Do as I Say, Not as I Do

About a week ago a lot of bloggers were up in arms about Yahoo of all people committing a bit of cloaking.

When things like this happen, sometimes it's just a reminder that nobody's infallible, even those who set the guidelines against which many marketers work.

However, sometimes it's something else. With the complexities of search, advanced work sometimes comes down to consciously committing certain acts that would otherwise normally be flagged as worst practice. N00bs should note that "Do as I Say, Not as I Do" comes up in search marketing from time to time, in association with this.

Take for example this image. It's from this page from the site of SMX, the new event series kicking off next week in Seattle.

Looks like a classic mistake: text as an image needlessly, right?

Wrong. It's not walking out on a weak limb to assume this most likely a very conscious site building decision.

The giveaway is in the site itself, and who it's catering to: Advanced search marketers. So of course, the team building this site wouldn't be caught with their pants down doing something like this. Calling them on it would be like the first-year music theory student who struts into class one morning proclaiming

I found a mistake that Bach made!

only to find the professor's reply is

Bach was one of the people who pioneered and wrote what eventually became the rules. What you found was not a mistake, but part of that process playing out.

Having this bit of text as an image helps preserve a bit of confidentiality and/or juice exclusivity. Unlike how content related to speakers and sponsors is presented, it helps avoid passing casually content love between the SMX brand and those of the attendees.

Simple, subtle, effective.

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Matt Cutts' April Fools Day

It appears Search Engine Land and others fell / are falling for this:

This was an April Fool's Day joke by Matt, not SEOs. It went live the evening of March 31st and was instantly flagged in the community. Dark SEO Team's subsequent public reply is was here... and because of it, among the dimmer bulbs out there the joke seemingly continues to go viral. So it's all almost funny... I suppose. 🙄

Anyone still confused about the differences between BH and all-out hacking should read this.

[Update, 02:17 PM PDT] ::

The touch has been removed... but not before it got cached, of course:

Dark SEO Replies to Matt's April Fool's 2007 Joke

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Mama Mia!!!

Jason Calacanis is seemingly stirring up all of SEO yet again.

Here's why many of the straight-up White Hats among us in particular are so pissed off about this: It's hard enough being one of the "good" guys. It's especially testing for those of us with families to feed, who know deep down that though we'd take no pleasure in it and it would be nothing personal against anyone, if it comes down to it we can and will spam - aggressively if need be.

If I need $2000 right now to keep my house, I'll spam.

- Rand Fishkin, SEOmoz

High profile people calling all SEOs spammers tests the patience of those on the fence. Distorting reality here might only worsen what they're complaining about for them, i.e. it increases the chances that SEOs who aren't already spamming will start doing so either now or later. Many of us WHs note our Black Hat brethren poke fun at us, and the really committed and successful ones make more money than some of us... Like many people some of us lost a lot of money to the post-Bust funk, moreover within that group some are still losing. Such individuals are making every effort to keep both their noses and resumes clean nonetheless, as are the rest of us. So we don't need this kind of crap, nor do we deserve it.

Just to be clear on my position: I'm no WHW (White Hat Whiner) nor a defender thereof normally, but I do feel compelled to call out ignorant name-calling from whatever source when I see it. The core issue here is not the Black Hats. It doesn't take a rocket scientist - or a BH apologist - to recognize they are a natural part of the SEO food chain no matter how plagued some people might feel by them. So my respect goes out to those who suck it up and speak as much with their actions as their words, if not more. Webmasters can choose to work to defend their sites against BH as they can, or not.

One more thing on that note: It's almost like he's asking for someone to mess with him. If at some point calacanis.com ends up uber-spammed, vandalized, otherwise hacked, hijacked or overloaded...

Trivia: Bart is voiced by a woman... Power to voiceover!
I didn't do it.

Anyway, most of the SEOs capable of some of those things I expect will stick to their usual spamming, figuring they have better things to do. But one never knows. As I've indicated before there are a few distractible players out there with itchy trigger fingers. Some claim to have made themselves wads of ca$h filling engines and sites with stuff, and also that they enjoy it when something comes along to help liven up their days (hey, who doesn't?).

Don't mess with the family.

It's wise to avoid giving such peeps an excuse for a little target practice. There's a point where buzz goes too far, and there is such a thing as bad publicity. With few exceptions I find SEOs overall are smart, talented, basically good people who aren't really out to hurt anyone. True jerks are very, very rare and the scene has its ways of filtering them out anyway, which significantly limits whatever damage they can do. Within their chosen camps SEOs mostly stick to their own publicly, and take care of their own privately. Perhaps more us in the marketing blogosphere might do well to do the same.

Fortunately the Godfather of all us Search Marketers (on all sides) has spoken. When Danny Sullivan says you should apologize, you really should.

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Based out of Northern California, bl.asphemo.us is a bl.og dedicated to the advocacy and study of high-impact, data driven marketing disciplines and related concerns: Analytics and Data Mining, Marketing Automation, Integrated Advertising (targeting, retargeting), Demand Generation and Lead Nurturing, Social Media / Social Engineering (Crowd-hacking) and the new PR, Privacy, Security, CRM, SEO / SEM, CRO, ROI... more TLAs (three letter acronyms) than any sane person's daily lexicon should include.

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