Jonathan Leger – SEO And Internet Marketing Blog Internet Marketing Blog


How to spot bad SEO advice.

I'm constantly shaking my head at the stuff I read on blogs or sites run by people claiming to have some knowledge about how Google works.

Here's two quotes from a blog I happened across the other day:

Unethical and dishonest SEO techniques will result in one of two things happening:

* Your website will actually lose rankings and drop like a brick in the Ohio River, or
* Your website will be banned from search engines.

Further down in the post he says:

I won't mention any of the bad techniques here, but if they have to do with creating extra pages in your website; stuffing your site with links, hidden links or hidden keywords, they you are going down the wrong path.

There are a lot of problems with these statements. Let's talk about them so you will know how to avoid such material when you inevitably come across it (and let me tell you, there's A LOT of this kind of stuff out there).

Problem #1: Ambiguity.

The author's BIGGEST problem with his entire blog post is ambiguity.

He refers to "Unethical and dishonest SEO techniques" but fails to give any precise examples of what that might include. He gives a few vague examples in the second statement I quoted above, but none that are precise enough to be useful to anyone who's actually trying to do well in Google.

In fact, he even says:

I won't mention any of the bad techniques here

Um, why not? The post is supposed to help people know what to avoid when building their site, but he purposefully won't say what to avoid. That doesn't make much sense.

In his vague list of possible "black hat" techniques, he includes:

1. "creating extra pages in your website"

Okay, so we shouldn't add content to our sites because that's "black hat"? Stop writing those articles boys! Again, a statement that makes no sense.

2. "stuffing your site with links"

I give you and Both are CHOCK FULL of links and do very well in Google. Google's own webmaster guidlines say:

Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number (fewer than 100).

That means that if I have a 100 page site with 50 links per page, Google is fine with those 5,000 links.

Where is this guy getting his information?

3. "hidden links or hidden keywords"

What is he thinking constitutes "hidden"? Does he mean links and keywords placed on the page so they won't be noticed by HUMANS? Or using the same foreground and background color for the text? Or using stylesheet settings to hide the content? Or what?

There's WAY too much ambiguity going on here.

Any time anybody starts making very broad statements like this, BEWARE. There are black, white and gray areas all over the world of SEO. If you're going to make a statement like this, it MUST include precise examples or it has no credibility.

Problem #2: Zero Proof

The owner of this blog apparently expects us to believe that his words are the undeniable truth. I have to assume that because he gives no proof or examples to back up his statements.

Now, if he was Matt Cutts (a well known Google Search Engineer), he could do that with some authority. Guess what: he's not! He's just some guy out there on the web making ambiguous statements about Google. There's nothing wrong with being "some guy out there", but if you want to be believed, provide proof and evidence.

MOST of the rumors about Google are started from posts like this which SEEM to come from credible sources, and SOUND reasonable, but which show very little (if any) proof to back them up. When people make statements but fail to back them up with evidence, BEWARE!

Don't Take This Wrong

I'm not trying to bash the guy who wrote the post. He's probably a great guy who's honestly wanting to inform people about what he THINKS is true about Google. The problem is that the wealth of ambiguity and complete lack of proof only causes confusion and raises questions.

There is a MOUNTAIN of this kind of "information" on the web about search engine optimization (especially regarding Google). Avoid it like the plague. Look for PRECISE examples and PROOF of accuracy. If either one is lacking, move on.

It's this kind of "information" that motivated me to write Search Engine Myths Exposed! Look for the full report on January 9th. It obliterates all kinds of myths about Google with precise examples and a wealth of proof.

Please post your thoughts and comments below.

Related Internet Marketing Q&A

Comments (70) Trackbacks (3)
  1. I agree with the article you wrote about bad SEO Advice. it seems to becoming more and more common everyday and people think they know everything about it.

  2. I have seen so many post just like explained above. The worse I have seen is the follow me attitude with Guaranteed results, and they go on to write how wonderful they are, how they have found the magic formula to fast page rank. And we are supposed to believe that Why? Well I guess just because the author said.

    Wonderful post. Thanks for pointing this out with tact.



  3. John, you are not joking when you say “mountain” of information. Man, I have to tell you that I have been reading so much stuff about SEO that I have come to conclusion that it just goes around in circles because most people out there are “just some guy” who hit some dumb luck and decided to write a book about it.

    You, my friend, make more sense than ANYONE I have read. I like your straight forward real person approach. So much of this stuff is a bunch of blah, blah and you talk to us like real people.

    I’m in.

  4. I have done a little experiment lately with google as far as the URL Registration. It seems that the longer the time period the URL is registered the more traffic I will get. 3 or 4 years out and tons of traffic. 1 year out and the traffic is good. 3 or 4 months out and Google seems to cut traffic. One month out and you will be lucky to get 1/3 of normal traffic. I have had several web sites ready to expire and I was losing a lot of traffic. I couldn.t decide which ones to delete and which ones to renew. I checked a year long history of AdSense earnings and used that to decide. So the ones I renewed all popped up in traffic. I have heard of this before. Now I know it is true.

  5. Jonathan, why turn around the burden of proof?

    There might be nuances that would have been interesting to see.

    Anyway, thanks for a fine blog. :-)

  6. John,

    The world of SEO needed a report like the one you just put out. I have had similar experiences for many years with so called duplicate content and static sites that were never updated but ranked well.

  7. If there are errors in the SEO techniques, why he didn’t mention what are those? To prove for his complaints. This simply shows that some information over the internet is not true!

  8. I picked up some bad advice from SEOBook. It states that if you get a lot of links from link directories will not hurt you because if so a competitor could add you site to a bunch of link farms & directories and hurt you. I tried it out. I was making $600/mo from one of my sites and now it makes nothing after paying someone to submit it to 300 directories. Lesson learned. Maybe you can hurt your competitors this way…

  9. Jon,
    Thanks for making SEO understandable. Looking forward to the report next week.


  10. This only shows internet is full of misinformation. This is something serious especially in the field of medicine where internet users gather information about different remedies from many sites not knowing what could they’ve gotten is wrong information.

  11. Jon,

    Once again, you help us wade through the heaps of bad SEO advice and identify questionable “gurus”. In order to stay focused on what’s really important to our Internet businesses, we certainly need to disregard the majority of the marketing hype, vague and unsupported advice, while sticking to our plan — more quality content and more links.


  12. Looking forward to the news about your SEO book Jon. Judging by the comments on your blog, I think you’ll be onto a surefire winner there :-)

    ~ Paul

  13. It sounds a lot like the person who made that post on their blog is misinformed and is passing down the bad info. Probably not realising the info in question is bad. I agree with you, Jon. Always look for proof behind the allegations. It’s the only way to assess the credibility.


  14. Hey Jon,

    Thanks for the post…I just wanted to say that I also loved Puerto Vallarta! Jalisco is an interesting part of Mexico, and I had some troubles getting in, but once I got there I had soooo much fun.

    I’m glad you got a much-needed vacation, too. Take care,


  15. This is a great article! I can’t wait for Jan 9th!

    BTW, Elvis’ birthday is Jan 8th. (no relation to this)

    Thanks Jon, for the facts.

  16. Good Job! Good Advice!

    A simple and easy to understand analysis of breaking apart information provided and debunking articles by so called “SEO Experts”.

  17. Your report should be like a breath of fresh air Jonathan.

    I feel that people should apply a few basic techniques that could be gleaned by checking out the top ranking sites for their keywords and focusing more on producing quality content and social networking.

    SEO is over-mystified I think.


  18. Hi one n all … that’s one of drawbacks with the internet … to much information, even information overload … just because its free information here there and every where does not always make it correct information or information that will do you any good what’s so ever … but hey its just a matter of a few clicks a bit of study and bang good well researched information at its best!! … That’s how most of us have ended up in this blog …. Yes

    All my best every one 2008 rocks
    Phillip Skinner

  19. Prime example of do not believe everything you read…and especially if they do not provide proof of what they are saying. Jon does a great job of providing proof of what he says and thats the best route.

  20. look foward for your new case study

  21. There are lots of reason to read your blog. Helpful and straight review of what you think should be done right. It proved to be another helpful tips to learn. Thanks for the great post.

  22. The problem with half education is that it creates quacks who think that they are knowledgeable. Thanks for your timely intervention; this kind of “guru” is like a quack Doctor who kills instead of cure.

    The worst crass of “his lessons” is his obvious disdain for article writing. He obviously does not know that article marketing yields Raw Backlinks, Improved PR, SERP-organic targeted visitors and conversions.

    I wonder how many newbies have already accepted his “snake oil” advice

    Once again thanks for standing between us and people like that.

  23. How do you make your adsense shake??? Inquiring minds want to know.

  24. I get bombbarded with seo advice and often wonder who to believe. I have a question about backlinks. Lets say I put an article on a PR4 blog that is basically multi-topic. He agrees to write about my niche and puts in a couple text links to my website within the article (200 word).

    If I did this about 10 to 20 times (different PR3 or 4 blogs) would it help me get a better rank for my target keywords? Obviously this costs money but if I can advance to the 1st or second page it would be worth it.

  25. Sounds like good advice to me.Also anyone can go to Google and get advice on how to build a site that wont get dropped.

  26. Thanks Jon!!

    I like the way you put it!! Back it up and prove it!! I’ve been keeping up with you recently because you tell it like it is! Credibility is a much needed thing in this business of Internet Marketing. Because that’s what it is, A BUSINESS!!
    My site is not up yet, because I am compiling information, supported facts, tested programs, ads, and articles (ALL OF WHICH IS ‘CONTENT’)for my future subscribers so that they will actually learn and benefit!! My plan is to have plenty of FRESH(key word indexed)CONTENT and INFORMATION ready to go, along with program opportunities, Affiliate Tips & Tools, and GOOD ADVICE for my readers!!
    Thanks for the inspiration Jon! Thanks for keeping it real. Empty words are just that, Empty.



    Happy Holidays and a Wonderful New Years to everyone!!

  27. Elliot:

    The purpose of the post was not to bash the original blog author. It’s easy enough to find out who wrote the post and where if you really want to.

  28. How about those people that think they qualify as SEO experts because they can show you proof that they are ranked on Googles’s first page for the most obscure longest tail keyword with only 15,000 results.

    As far as what doesn’t work, there is plenty of stuff that still DOES work. For instance outbound relevant links will increase your ranking, wan’t proof?

    Sorry, not ready to release that report yet! :)

  29. Nowadays many kinds of technology are available in this world but people misused it instead of using in right way they used it in bad way which many people where affected. They must be thankful that it is easy to communicate anywhere in this world.

  30. yeah, information like that makes it even more difficult for newbies to succeed because newbies don’t know any better and take advise like that hook, line and sinker… what happens next is they realize the advise they took did not work and they conclude there is no money to be made online when in the first place it was simply a case of taking the wrong pill

    again Jon, great advise… Happy New Year

  31. Hello Jonathan,

    Thank you for this enlightening post. I must confess, the world of SEO is a world which is steeped in mystery for me. And when I read posts like the ones you mentioned, they really deepen the seeming mysterious haze that surrounds that world.

    Or maybe he was deliberately trying to be vague? Could it be that he’s selling something or plans to come up with a product he intends to sell that will clear up the vague implications he’s written?

    Anyway, thank you for writing in such a way that it helps people like me who’re just learning about this concepts.

    Have a Happy and Prosperous 2008 … 2009 … 2010 … (well, you get the idea)!


  32. Jon
    I home you include in your booklet how google is changing a lot lately and it is hard to say just what they will do. On the other hand last year they had a PR update on the 15th of January so I am predicting they will do the same this year at the same time. Last year just before the change the traffic figures jumped around a lot. 200 new one day and 300 the next. Then when the page rank changed it was PR2 for a few days then PR3 for a couple days, back and forth. I believe that is because there are many google repeaters around and it take a while for them to get up to speed. Also there seems to be a new measure of a web pages authority. The web pages age. My main web page is 11 years old. I am getting a lot of traffic on it for no other reason over other web pages that have been built for SEO but are a lot newer. One other weird fact I have noticed is that if Google makes you number one for a word and you don’t get the clicks they will push you down. In other words If your clicks and traffic don’t warrant the placement Google may cause you to drop. This is a case of the tail wagging the dog. Also it may not be true since I have only studied it a short time.

  33. Hi Jon,
    Once again, you are sharing something we all need o know.
    I agree with you, whenever I see someone ‘expose’ some Google’s ‘secrets’, I always wonder how they know about that!

    Thanks and keep up with the great sharing.


  34. What about your own ambiguity? For instance, which blog are your quotes from?

  35. Hi Jon,

    thanks for the post and your advice.

    The excerpts you’re quoting may well be kept deliberately vague to sow fear in the hearts of the competition and maybe get them to go away or lay off their strategies that are probably working just fine. Who knows.

    It’s good to get a reminder not to take things like that too seriously, and to keep looking for the facts. Oh and take a close look at the source of such “information.”

    Happy New Year!


  36. Waiting for your SEO book, Jon :) I try not to go into the specifics of SEO cos thats when it tends to get really inaccurate. I try to follow overall, “bigger picture” SEO strategies.

  37. Hi jon,
    Interesting stuff, i have come across one person who shared a little SEO advice which seems to be working well despite the fact that all the methods used confirm everything you say about these so called gurus, totally blows everything they are trying to say right out the water.

    Nice one!

  38. Hi Jon,

    Thanks for telling it like it is. Seems like the so called INTERNET marketing guru’s are just like the politicians running for President, a lot of what they think the people want to hear and little if any substance.


  39. Great post and such valuable information!

    Far too many website owners either ignore SEO or just trust their luck, and it really is not good when you are trying to put money in to your pocket.

    This post pretty much explains the process, and I for one agree. Especially for home business beginners or website owners trying to get more traffic.

    Before you get the click you have to get the search engines to send you traffic, so it makes sense that SEO is vital for getting revenue in to your bank account.

    Keep it coming and thanks again. Sincerely,
    John Adams

  40. I find myself looking forward to your updates with real anticipation.

    You never fail to please. There is always something of value that I can take and incorporate into my own business, even if it’s just an opportunity to ad to my own knowledge bank.

    Thank you Jonathan! you are a true resource.

    Kirsten Plotkin

  41. Hi,

    As again very good information, I look forward to reading this in the new year.


  42. Hi Jon,
    Thanks for another interesting blog. There are so many “Guru’s” out there that I have spent a lot of time in the past couple of months sifting through all their “advise” and unsubscribing from their sites.
    I look forward to reading your blogs in 2008.
    With that I would like to wish You and your Family a wonderful and prosperous 2008.
    I would also like to wish all your readers and subscribers the same.
    Have a wonderful year every one

  43. Thanks for pointing out how easily it is to be misled. With the internet being so anonymous it’s getting more difficult to tell who really is an expert.

  44. Some of the stuff that Steve wrote on his blog page makes sense but I agree that this particular post was useless. You’d expect more from an “SEO consultant”. Maybe he was having a bad day. His web site is very “fishy” and purple isn’t my favorite color. Oh, dear, his page rank is 3. Even my non-optimized sites do better than that.

  45. Jon,

    You are right, his intentions are good, but the evidence to back it up is a little on the light side. I do appreciate your case studies and the effort you put into them. You can’t argue with what actually works.


  46. Thanks so much for exposing this misinformation to your readers. The fact that this person was able to mislead “anyone” into believing what he posted, is both harmful and destructive.
    You would think he would want better for his readers than some un researched and unexplainable theories regarding Google or for that matter, any subject , he hardly knows anything about.

  47. Nice find.

    I just went to that guys site, I’m not sure if he knows much about what he talks about.
    The guy doesn’t even have a page rank or alexa rank. sites like that aren’t worth looking at.

    happy new year to all. :)


  48. Jon,

    I totally agree, the Internet is adrift in a sea of mis-communication. I’m sure the blog poster is a good guy or gal trying to help other people by simply regurgitating what they have heard.

    Another area I hope you address in your upcoming report is “duplicate content.” I have some high-powered computer geek friends who laugh at the notion that Google has the computing power to search the entire Internet, word-for-word, then compare those results to each individual new post. Talk about super-computing!

    Now, I’m not advocating plagarism, that’s theft. But I am suggesting that there’s not one shred of evidence which shows that using other people’s material (duly credited, of course) harms your search engine ranking. Quite the contrary, I follow your advice and use a blend of my own postings and those of other people who are on-target….works great!

    Keep up the good work,


  49. Hi Jon,

    With all the crap being spread around as truth, it is very hard to weed out the good from the bad for many people.

    Your studies and reports are great! Testing results for any technique and having the data to back it up is really the only way to know for sure.

    Thanks for keeping us informed.

    John Stiles

  50. Yea…especially that so called “world’s No. 1 super affiliate” named Ewen Chia. Hez always trying to sell something on every mail that he sent to me and Im so sick of it until I unsubscibe from his {snip} list.

  51. WTG Jon, our favorite internet watchdog!

    Yes their post is faulted in many ways, lets explore a few.

    First off a site must have outbound links to relative sites in order to rank well. The S.E.s want to serve up sites the clients can go to, spend time on gathering the information requested and go from the site to other areas related to the search query.

    My experiments show a site with several outbound (not reciprical) links does better than a site with no outbound links. Can a site rank well with no outbound links, yes in certain long tail keyword phrases as long as the information is targeted and the site is optimized.

    The practice of hidden links is to provide the outbound links for the bots to crawl but not visible for humans to click on and leave the site. This is an outdated practice. The S.E.s can obviously read the color code for the link and tell that it’s the same as the body color. Duh, the S.E.s aren’t stupid, blind and easy to manipulate.

    Another outdated practice is added pages. It used to be that you could use hidden links to a few keyword stuffed (overstuffed to 20%+)pages and you would rank better as being keyword targeted. Another duh in todays world.

    White hat SEO is not complicated, it’s simply providing the S.E.s with what they suggest, a precise description tag, a keyword related title, properly written information, some outbound links to related sites, some backlinks from related sites, a handful of reciprical links and your keywords in your domain.

    Oh yes, and time. I have a site that is 100% duplicate content and has been up for 2 years now and is on the first page in the results for many keywords. All the other sites that used the same articles have gone, guess they didn’t want to pay hosting fees for sites that wouldn’t show because of to many with the same content. I’m the only one left! Except for one page of the site, the original composer of the article is at #6 in the results but because I optimized I’m at #3! Go figure!

    There are very few black hat methods that will help anymore. The great minds behind the S.E.s are constantly aware of new “techniques” and change their algorithyms to prevent anyone from getting undeserved results.

    Black hat is temporary, white hat is forever!

    Brian Ankner (non-guru)

  52. Well, here is someone who doesn’t really know what he is doing.
    I’ve started a Blog a couple of weeks ago about Google Adwords.
    I need some well founded advise, critique and what ever may come to your mind
    regarding that subject. Anyone who cares, please visit {snip: no personal urls in your comments please}
    And hey, don’t leave without a comment :)
    Wishing everyone a happy new year and all the best for 2008.

  53. I, too, have unsubscribed from every other “guru’s” mailing list. With my science background, I love those case studies!

  54. Jon,
    As always, you are right on in your assessments.
    Please keep the good information coming as there are so many out here in cyberspace who need the help you give. Thanks for being one of the few people out there who seem to care more about giving good, solid information than constantly selling…it is appreciated.

  55. It is important at the right time, you have advised us of bad seo advice spread by people who does not know google & seo.
    It is a great help for Newbees who is looking to each and every advice as step towards making money online.
    Great article.

  56. Dear Jon ,
    Bravo. Very Well written .
    Best of writing .

  57. Any SEO person who is still talking about “stuffing your site with links, hidden links or hidden keywords” immediately drops in my estimation. It must be surely something like 5 years since anyone surely thought that any of the search engines which matter could be fooled by such ideas?

    I am glad you had a great holiday and are back Jon and looking forward to the planned make-over for Article Builder.

  58. Hi Jonathan,

    Of course many of use were curious to learn who you were speaking of, and it was nice to see how careful you were not to totally reveal the author.
    My point here is that while his information was misguiding, I doubt that he was being malicious in his actions.
    As we all should know, writing articles is an important process in being “heard” on the internet, but sometimes in their haste authors will use bad information, or incomplete research to create that article.
    There are many amateurish marketers trying to make it online, and just as we all had a learning process, so too do they.
    But tolerance can only go so far when we understand that another newbie will come along and could possibly be harmed in taking to heart the erroneous information.
    That’s why I appreciated your article Jon, and I’m curious to read what you have in your Google Myths Report. I’m sure the information there will give people much better information that you’ve taken the time to properly research and produce.
    Best regards,

  59. amen bro, I check your blog almost daily for your updates on
    stuff like this, finally after being hooked up here Im making
    huge progress in the internet marketing world. I floundered for a long time because of things like you expose here on a
    weekly basis, keep up the great work!



  60. Jon,
    Good post, I tend to ignore most posts from “experts” on SEO. I did read and use SEO made easy by the maker of SEO Elite, works for me. I like and use your linking strategy for one-way links super value.
    Thanks for the quality information and your quality programs!

  61. Chas:

    That’s my point. So many people don’t provide any evidence to back up their statements AT ALL, whether or not there are other ways to do things in addition to the ones they present.

    It’s true that there are many, many factors for ranking in Google, but there are very few that effect your ranking more than anything else. This is what I’ve found after extensive experimentation across thousands of sites in hundreds of niches, and that’s what my report on January 9th will seek to demonstrate (through examples and evidence, as opposed to the empty words and fluff so often seen in the world of SEO).

  62. Thanks for your kind words guys.


    That is SO true. Teaching solid fact requires a lot of up-front legwork, and in a world of “get rich quick” online marketing, you rarely see people willing to put forth that kind of effort.

  63. “It obliterates all kinds of myths about Google with precise examples and a wealth of proof.”

    There are many factors involved in getting high rankings, and while you can mount evidence for or against any one influencing factor with specific examples, the best any SEO expert can manage is “supporting evidence.” PROOF is not really an option. One Internet Marketer does a statistical analysis of over 200,000 search engine results pages. The highest correlation he has found is 85%. That means that 15% of those results show NO correlation at all. So specific examples aren’t 100% “proof” either.


  64. Hi Jonathan

    Great post and I have learnt over time to take a lot of what I read on the internet with a pinch of salt and whose information I can trust. Your comment “Look for PRECISE examples and PROOF of accuracy. If either one is lacking, move on” is a great guideline.

    All the very best for 2008 and thanks for continually providing such useful information on your blog.

    Cynthia Minnaar

  65. Hey Jon,

    …buts that the problem with Online Marketing,
    most of the information available is useless as its either outdated or as you say in your article above ambiguous.
    Even the information purchased is usually unclear, and a person really needs to be an SEO geek to understand it in the first place, which surely defeats the purpose…

    …I for one would like to see some information that is clear cut….so therefore I am looking forward to seeing your report.

    And as Alex says …keep the case studies coming!

    Happy New Year to you ALL.

  66. I couldn’t agree more. The art of communication is not a very common skill nowadays. The internet is making this fact much more visible. I think it was John Reese that said a short while back that the internet will eventually be ruled by the people that can communicate with accuracy and precision. I’m an IT consultant of 15years and judged on the correctness of my advice. I am trying to make a move into SEO and PPC consulting and really identify with your post. The problem of course is best practice for SEO and google etc is shrouded in mystery because google likes it that way. How we decipher what actually is correct or incorrect is harder that just picking up a book on say Java and becoming an expert programmer. It comes down I think to actually doing it yourself and finding what worked for you. Then if you want to communicate it do so, but only say what you did and what result you got. Oh dear that means a lot of hard work and of course most of us don’t like that so you will continue to get stuff like you observed. Like the previous poster I’ve unsubscribed to a load of people as I clear the decks for 2008 and you are one that has survived the cull ! Keep up the good work.

  67. Hi Jon

    I regret you didn’t include a link to the person’s blog when one of your own points was why the guy hadn’t mentioned what black hat techniques to avoid and an actual example….. ;-)

    Kidding. Had to catch that little language thing just to show I read the entire article. It was well worth reading and there were many fine points indeed. I think one would have to be a complete fool to ever release all points in good webdesign and SEO policies. We have each our own way to score high and the main thing is, and always has been, having the best content and knowing something about the subject one talks about.

    Happy New Year everyone, and thanks for the blog. :-)

  68. In contrast to the chap who you’re quoting:

    Your precision over these kind of issues, and the case studies you set up to test your theories, are the reason I continue to return to your blog.

  69. Hi Jon, another great post from you – thanks very much for the tips! I just love your posts because they are of true value, and what i like the most are your case studies.
    I’ve actually unsubscribed from every other ‘gurus’ list that i was on except yours, because i realised that the others were mostly trying to sell to me every email they sent!
    Thanks again,
    PS – keep the case studies coming!