This post has been a long time coming but today I am finally mad enough to write it. Today I woke to another SEO email in my inbox-
I am really satisfied with your blog content, your posts are really good and you are keeping it well. I would like to publish my post on your blog (as guest post) with my website link……”
It is a common tactic for SEOers (Search Engine Optimization) to try and do guest posts on other people’s blogs. When they do a guest post they will link to their or their employers websites. The reason they do this is because your website or blog will have high quality content and be ranked higher by Google because of that. By association, through the link, they get a little bit of your ‘ranking juice’ and improve their chances of getting ranked higher in search results by Google.
This was clearly a very poor attempt at trying to get a guest post. I am guessing English is not this persons first language e.g. no native speaker would ever start with, “I am really satisfied with your blog content”. However, there are better SEOers out there. A few weeks ago I was contacted by an “amateur archaeologists” wanting to try out blogging and was wondering if he could guest post on my blog. I had a feeling it was SEO but I asked him to send me a post and that confirmed it. It was a horrible post, I say horrible in the sense that it had a lot of words but said very little, typical SEO. For example it had phrases like, “archaeologists use trowels to dig” and that was about the depth of the post. It had a grand total of two links one to Wikipedia and one to a JCB company who had hired the SEO. His goal was to get the JCB company ranked higher in Google by using my blog.
The Internet is now flooded with this fluff work trying to vie for higher search engine rankings. You might be thinking that archaeology is such a low profit activity that it would not be swept up in this problem of trying to rank websites but alas we are not immune. I did a quick search for the phrase “how to write an archaeology cv” in Google with personalized results turned off. I was happy I came in first but number two was SEO crap. It was ranked higher than Chiz’s excellent post on an Archaeologists CV. It was higher than Bill’s book on how to write an Archaeology CV. Of course I am not going to link to this webpage because that would only help them out.
However, I will share some gems from it.
- About the author- “…is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing.” So not an archaeologists and probably has never been one.
- It has some blindingly obvious statements that aren’t very helpful, “An archaeologist’s curriculum vitae might include digs he has worked on.”
- It is chalked full of bad advice. Here is the advice it gives about applying for academic jobs in archaeology, “…you should arrange your CV to place your field experience prominently, such as on the first page directly after your education section. This arrangement shows the professor in charge of the search committee that you have the qualifications they are looking for.” If you are applying for an Academic position publications would be the most prominent, not field experience.
It is not just that SEO is flooding the internet with fluff, it is that they are flooding it with bad advice, misinformation, and crap. If a student was to follow the advice on that webpage they would have a hell of a time getting a job in archaeology.
Moreover, SEO pushes good content onto the second, third, 10th page of google results, which means no one reads it. I did a search of Stonehenge and the first two results were English Heritage and Wikipedia but after that it was tour companies. Which is fair enough as I am sure many people Googling Stonehenge are looking to visit it. However, if you were looking to find out more about Stonehenge you are stuck with Wikipedia, which is not a bad thing as the Wiki article is excellent. That does mean that because of SEO mega sites, like Wikipedia, dominate searches and websites run by archaeologists almost are never discovered through search engines. Which means archaeologists should be paying more attention to Wikipedia and how to get involved in it.
I also think we should start to have a serious discussion about how people find out information about archaeology. In a world were ‘just google it’ is fast becoming the main method of finding facts and information quickly we are getting swamped with SEO crap that is taking over the internet. We are quickly loosing the ability to communicate with the public through the Internet.