Posted by & filed under Search Engine Optimisation.

Recently I received a cold call from a SEO who told me that he could not find my website in the search engines. (Yes, unbelievably we get them too!) He then went into, what I now call, the ‘miserable failure’ sales pitch.

About the Miserable Failure results

The results returned when you search for ‘Miserable Failure’ on google.com have been touted by some SEOs as proof that good copy is no longer important, or at least a lot less important than it used to be. The miserable failure is any SEO that tells you this.

The Miserable Failure pitch

Me : So I need help with my rankings can you tell me what to do?
Seo : You need more links, I can sell you some if you like!
Me : Links?
Seo : Yep you need more links, try typing miserable failure into google.com
Me : Miserable Failure?
Seo : Miserable Failure!
Me : OK
Seo : Let me know what you get
Me : A page about George Bush
Seo : Have a look at the page, the term Miserable Failure does not appear anywhere
Me : Wow
Seo : Look at the code, miserable failure does not appear there either.
Me : That’s true. No miserable failure there
Seo : That’s because there are lots of links pointing to this page that use the term miserable failure in the anchor text.
Me : So search engine optimisation is just about links then.
Seo : You dont need your keywords on the page any more, just links pointing to your site using your keywords. You need about 500 links. I can arrange that for you now, do you have your credit card at hand.

Firstly the page was never intended to be relevant for the term ‘miserable failure’, that’s why miserable failure does not appear on the page. Nor is there any page clearly targeting the term ‘miserable failure’ loosing out. What you are seeing is an amusing misuse of the google algorithm known as google bombing.

Webmasters with an axe to grind with George W have linked their site to his using the term ‘miserable failure’. While it is amusing it should be noted that very few pages have been optimized for the term ‘miserable failure’ so to rank for the term should not be difficult. If it were such a difficult term to rank for how come Michael Moore ranks for ‘miserable failure'; he appeared from nowhere and now ranks number two for the search phrase ‘miserbale failure’.

Links are a very powerful tool when used properly, i.e. when the keywords used in the page title, content, Meta tags etc are synchronous to those used in the anchor text. It is doubtful if any competitive term like ‘search engine optimization’ or ‘online casino’ would rank the same way as ‘miserable failure’ on links alone, unless thousands of links were involved.

Although the ‘miserable failure’ pitch sounds almost believable Search engine optimisation is not just about links, although they are an important factor many other factors have to be considered.

Craig Silverstein, Google’s director for technology, says the company sees nothing wrong with the public using its search engine this way. No user is hurt, he said, because there is no clearly legitimate site for “miserable failure” being pushed aside. Moreover, he said, Google’s results were taking stock of the range of opinions that are expressed online. “We just reflect the opinion on the Web.” he said, “for better or worse.”

Don’t be fooled by the ‘miserable failure’ pitch it’s just the snake oil salesman with a new twist. It is easy to manipulate terms on google this way for non competitive terms. If you are in a competitive market trying to rank for highly competitive terms you will also need well written keyword rich content, error free search engine friendly code, a value proposition and a clear call to action to mention just a few.

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