By Larry Teren
SEO, search engine optimization, is the current torch bearer for old fashioned junk mail. Let me explain.
If you should happen to own a blog site you receive tens of junk notices on a daily basis. Most are couched as fake comments praising your posts. In reality, they are autobot attempts to get approval as pingbacks to their spam sites. Those of us who use WordPress utilize Aksimet protection to filter these into the spam comments folder.
Besides patting you on the back for a well written blog, they usually promote items you or your readers will never need (unless they suffer from inadequacy- but that’s as far as I will go with that). They often try to tell you that you need better search engine optimization. Hey, if I need better search engine optimization, how the heck did they find my blog to inundate with junk comments? Huh?
Look, I don’t care if I have better search engine optimization. If I wanted thousands of people to visit my site on a weekly basis and read the most beautifully written stories, I’d pay for the traffic with Google Adwords or Yahoo or Bing. I’d come up with better meta tags. Pagerank means nothing to me. I want people to open a web browser and come to my blog site because they want to come. Because they appreciate artful prose woven into good humor. How they find me is their business.
Of course, I’m joking- right? Thirty years ago every con artist was placing small inexpensive advertisements in newspapers. Their aim was to attract numskulls to pay for every get-rich quick scheme or to learn how to do just about anything and earn a decent income at it. I’ll be honest and state for the record I tried to do the same selling a brochure on how to do something or another that I can no longer remember. I rented a post office box in the Chicago loop for a few weeks. I spent less than fifty dollars placing personal ads in the Chicago Tribune. After two or three weeks of treking to check a more often empty box, I came to the quick conclusion that I did not have what it takes to become a mail order tycoon. I did, though, receive two checks in the mail and returned both along with an honest answer explaining that low interest caused me to shut down operations and cease publishing the brochure. If I was giving a lecture in marketing, I’d explain that this proves that there were at least two consumers in America willing to throw away hard-earned money.
Junk mail is here to stay and I’m sure that many con artists today prefer to do it electronically as it is cheaper. There are still a good number of purveyors of post office junk mail. They tend to hide under the guise of offering additional ways to get a good deal now that you are a customer of theirs or affiliated with one of their sister companies. My home phone company sends me a letter every other week trying to get me to add a television hookup as well. Hey, the freaking answer is NO! But they keep sending the junk mail invitations.
Yesterday I received an official looking document from a phone listing service with a big arrow pointing to where I should sign to approve the offer. In big dull letters, it also read THIS IS NOT A BILL. It also had a warning that “YOU MUST RETURN THIS FORM TO BE INCLUDED IN THE DIRECTORY”. Now, I wasn’t born yesterday. More like twenty-one thousand yesterdays ago. But, who’s counting?
I looked for the small print using the bifocal portion of my glasses. It read: “WE ARE NOT AFFILIATED WITH YOUR LOCAL PHONE COMPANY AND THE DIRECTORY IS NOT DISTRIBUTED TO ALL LOCAL TELEPHONE SUBSCRIBERS. IF YOU ADVERTISE IN YOUR LOCAL PHONE COMPANY’S YELLOW PAGES AND ACCEPT THIS OFFER, THIS WILL BE IN ADDITION TO YOUR EXISTING YELLOW PAGES ADVERTISING.”
It goes on to explain that it is an online listing and not a printed one and that it costs $396.00. Take it or leave it. It does not mention anywhere the url for their website. Don’t they want to improve their own search engine optimization? I guess that tells you a lot about these people. Intimidate, confuse, misdirect. Did I leave anything out?
So now we live in a world where we get junk mail delivered by the post office, spam mail delivered by the Internet to our email readers and junk comments delivered to our blog sites. What’s next?