The SEO’s Apprentice

It’s a guilty pleasure I know, but I’ve watched every season of Lord Sugars, Apprentice and The Apprentice USA with Donald trump – God help me. And God help anyone investing in an SEO business.

If you consider what search engine optimisation ‘is’ instead of the way its sold, you may agree. SEO experts will claim to improve your position in search rankings with a variety of magic tricks and secret handshakes. And no doubt, in many cases they do. But what exactly are they doing? The fact is, in most cases, SEOptimisers are simply making the client’s website more readable (to search engines) than other sites on the web… and that’s all they can do, short of paying for promotion.

Mobile phones and personal devices has lit a clear new direction for content delivery and discovery. Services like Siri, Cortana and of course Google Now, want to pre-empt your searches before you even know you’re looking. Google Now for example, scans everything it knows about you from your account usage to provide you with news cards on your home screen. Everything from sports scores of teams you’re interested in, to flight arrival times that it scraped from an email you had with your old colleague who’s flying over for Christmas.

With such a level of personalisation, it would naturally follow that my results for a search term would likely be different from yours – tailored to what the system knows about me. These will no doubt be served by delicate, finely tuned algorithms that Google won’t want us manipulating or circumventing. Even now you’ll take a slap for messing with meta data and in-page links that are suspect.

And rightly so. If google wants to maintain value for its paid-for promotion, it needs to sustain a level ecology, where only money breaks the beautiful system.

When all web pages are optimised, no web pages will be optimised.

SEO, for the last few years has done a good job of tidying up an otherwise solecistic internet, but as we move forward and the web pulls up its socks, well-formed semantic pages, with honest content descriptions will be everywhere. When all web pages are optimised, no web pages will be optimised.

Mark’s business is so entirely dependent on powers outside of his control. Any promises he might make are ultimately subject to the big search engines continuing to play nice and stick on a consistent linear path of working that a sales person (not a developer) might understand. Which is a highly unlikely thing to do for tech companies, such as Google.

So as a business, I don’t see Mark’s SEO company having legs… certainly not as many as Bianca’s hosiery plan.

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