Recently we at Popehat have been receiving many emails from people offering to help drive more traffic to our modest site. They urge us not to be content with our existing search engine traffic, which may very charitably be described as eccentric. Rather, they want us to unleash the power of teh internets by "optimizing" our site for search terms that are key to our enterprise. (Possible examples: "snark" "conceited assholes" "off-brand small-l libertarian wankery" "geekish effluvia").
So, are professional search engine optimizers — or internet marketing specialists, or keyword rankers, as some call themselves — deliberately targeting the big-side-of-tiny/smaller-side-of-small blog market? Is there money in the narcissistic ramblings of frustrated writers in the blogosphere?
Well, no. Most of these marketing emails by SEOs are, as far as I can tell, spam generated by automated Google searches.
Take, for example, Jamie Spottz and PeakSearchEngineRanking.dork. Okay, it's actually .net. But I didn't want to link him directly.
Jamie — who I certainly hope is not the baseball player — sent me an unsolicited email to tell us that he can help us with our traffic:
Hello, my name is Jamie Spottz and I am an internet marketing specialist. I was looking at websites under the keyword Denver Real Estate Attorney and came across your website http://www.popehat.com/2009/04/15/attorney-steven-l-hill-denver-colorado-ticket-void-llc-spammer/. I see that you're ranked number 29 when doing a Google search for that term.
I'm not sure if you're aware of why you're ranked this low but more importantly how easily correctable this is. There's no reason you can't have a top three organic (natural) ranking for the keyword Denver Real Estate Attorney based on your site structure and content. You have a very nice site.
You need significantly more one way anchor text backlinks to help improve your ranking. If you're interested I can help you with this…I'm talking about getting you ranked for ALL your keywords. Adding new backlinks on a steady and consistent basis from high PR quality websites is what produces the rankings you are looking for with your website http://www.popehat.com/2009/04/15/attorney-steven-l-hill-denver-colorado-ticket-void-llc-spammer/.
There are a number of amusing things about this. Amusing thing number one is that Jamie Spottz is referring to a single blog post as a web site. Amusing thing number two is that Jamie Spottz thinks that we want to be one of the top three sites for people searching for Denver Real Estate Attorneys, despite the fact that the briefest look at our site would reveal that while some of us are lawyers, none of us are in Denver or practicing real estate law. The third amusing thing — and by far the most amusing thing — is that the very blog post that Jamie Spottz seized upon is a discussion of sleazy internet marketing techniques — in that case spam comments promoting the traffic-ticket-avoiding skills of attorney Steven L. Hill of Denver, who used to work in real estate.
Now, perhaps Jamie Spottz thinks he can drive traffic to us so that we can be the premiere site for criticizing sleazy former real estate lawyers. Is that it, Jamie?
I didn't send this communication out to very many people but I am currently reaching out to a list of your 'keyword competitors' as well. However, I favor your website because I can see your website monetizing the keyword Denver Real Estate Attorney in an effective manner.
Um . . . thanks, I think. I need a judge's ruling. Is "monetizing" a word? If so, does it mean "referring to in a disparaging manner once"?
Why would we choose Jamie Spottz, anyway?
The right kind of links are very critical in getting top rankings….and I can hand deliver these quality links to you. My partners and I have relationships established with thousands of websites and offer private linking to hundreds of website owners just like yourself.
He knows all the top men who post snarky entries about fallen Denver real estate attorneys.
Hey, how much is Jamie's service gonna run us?
I have a very simple method of proving that what I do works and you wont need to give me anything upfront but a chance to earn your business. I will let you use the ranking service for 30 days without an obligation – I won't even ask for a credit card. Nothing beats seeing the results with your own eyes. If you agree that our firm provided impressive, upward movement for your keywords in the 30 day trial period you can hire us to get your terms all the way to the top of the search engines. The fee to continue with the service is $250 a month, payable monthly, and it usually takes us 4-6 months to get a keyword to the top of the search engines and to then have it stay there. We will work on 4 keywords at a time for you. We will help you select the most relevant terms to use.
Jamie Spottz is being modest here. I've seen firms charging far more — often up front. But if he gets a few clients to bite, this can be a very profitable line of work.
So, if I delete this email, am I shut of Jamie Spottz?
I have your contact information and phone number. Is it ok if I give you a call?
I'm pretty sure Jamie Spottz is messing with us here. There's no number on this site. Two intrepid reporters have called me based on things posted on this site, but they are experienced researchers, and I'm thinking Jamie is not so intrepid. Call me cynical, but I think Jamie uses this line on everyone.
Here's the thing. There are tons of people out there who can help you improve your search engine rankings through a variety of methods — from methods so easy that an idiot like me can use them, to methods that require a level of web design far beyond me. If you are going to pay someone money to do it — assuming that makes sense — you're going to want to make sure the person you've chosen is competent. You want to make sure they are trustworthy, because you're going to be giving them at least temporary access to the back-end workings of your web site. You want to make sure they can actually deliver useful results. If you are a real estate lawyer, you don't want to pay to optimize search terms that will bring you people searching for snarky blogs about lawyers behaving badly, and vice-versa.
So — if you are smart enough to have a web site, and smart enough to be concerned about increasing traffic, and smart enough to earn enough money to pay for help getting more traffic, why would you even consider hiring someone like Jamie Spottz and PeakSearchEngineRanking.dork? If you are looking for help with smart and well-targeted marketing, why would you choose someone who spams web sites with ill-targeted emails clumsily and insultingly designed to appear customized?
Does anything about this spam email give you even a scintilla of confidence in Jamie's abilities, or the value of his services?
How smart can Jamie be, if he thinks his solicitation is appealing?
Who the hell falls for these things?
By the way, Jamie's site has this stern warning about the sort of people he won't help:
Adult Oriented sites, or any site that is offensive to anyone. If we would not be proud telling our families about you, we won't work with you.
I'm offended that Jamie thinks that Popehat is not offensive to anyone. We try our best, dammit.
UPDATE: In the comments, someone claiming to be the Jaime Spottz who sent the email — and claiming that he is the same guy as the baseball player — shows up in the comments. Exercise skepticism about whether (1) it's the same guy whose company sent the email, or (2) it's the baseball player. However, corroborating evidence is discussed in the comments.
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