Josepha told me yesterday that search engine optimization professionals (or, as Tom puts it, search engine optimists) are lonely, according to the news. People in her office were discussing a Fox news story which is actually about black hat tactics and spam. Doing these jobs, the story claims, will leave you friendless and indeed shunned by decent people.
The story lists a variety of job titles and then offers inaccurate descriptions of the work holders of the titles do. Bloggers for hire, for example, “provide phony support for a product.” That’s not actually what professional bloggers do. I know, because I’m a blogger for hire myself. I blog for various companies, providing useful information for their visitors. Saying that professional bloggers “provide phony support for a product” is like explaining what professional dancers do by saying that they take their clothes off. There’s a difference between a ballet company and a strip club, and there’s a difference between SEO professionals and spammers.
I’m not saying that fake reviews don’t exist. I’ve been asked to write them, actually, though of course I refuse. I review lots of products for various companies, but never without using them, always honestly, and always under my own name. The fact that there are people who will write multiple fake reviews for pay (very small pay, by the way — as I say, I’ve been offered these jobs, and all I can say is that the people who do this stuff must be desperate) is irrelevant to the work of professional bloggers.
Professional bloggers write blogs for companies, just as professional cleaners clean buildings for companies, or professional photographers take pictures for companies. If Fox thinks that the average company blog is written by the CEO, then they are mistaken.
Fox also claims that search engine optimizers “dupe” people. Actually, we help honest business people make their websites communicate well with their customers. Fox is confusing us with con artists.
In fact, Fox includes professional bloggers and SEO professionals with telemarketers, email spammers, and people who sell ringtones with misleading phrasing. Perhaps they have confused themselves with journalists.