An alleged SEO expert emailed me. This is what followed.

Producers Get Lousy Scripts All The Time. A Pro Screenwriter Wil

Fun and games with SEO, which stands for: Search Engine Optimization. Every business website owner has received an email like this:

I was visiting sites today and suddenly I came across your site.
I like the interface of your site very much.I did more research .
Before researching I was expecting your site must have traffic in thousands or in millions but Also it was not.After watching your site seo stats I feel I should give you advice.I have some tips and tricks about your site ranking related.
I have something special for your site traffic.
Please let me know if you are really interested to know about your site ranking?

As a writer and editor, a message like that makes me cringe. Forget the message, I’m looking at the poor grammar. These emails are pure bullshit. Normally I just delete them, but this time I replied:

Really? Nice try. I’m an SEO. Since 1999.

Ummm. I suck at math but I do have a calculator handy. That’s 24 years as of this writing. I hit send and fully expected the email to bounce, as most of the characters who send this stuff really don’t want people contacting them outside of a narrow channel they set up to scare site owners into hiring them to get the site to rank. Surprisingly, it went through. In fact, I got a quick reply:

Sir, I have a question for you, if you consider it appropriate, you can answer?? Sir you told me that you are doing SEO since 1999. So my question to you is why you haven’t done SEO of your site why its traffic is down?

Which immediately told me he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. So my reply was tailored to someone with minimal SEO knowledge:

Algorithm changes are part of the issue. The other issue is that Google allows a certain type of SEO cheating. Check the backlinks of newly high-ranking sites. Very often they come from paid guest posting websites, which is contrary to Google policy. Since Google apparently allows that technique despite calling it black-hat SEO, Google thereby encourages other sites to also cheat to regain positioning. SEO-related websites have discussed this extensively. Complaints of recent poor positioning in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) are rampant.

Now, regarding my website, if you examine the title tags, you will find they reflect important keyword phrases. There are hundreds of pages on my site and every single one is tuned to a specific keyword set, or two. As a result of what’s happened as described above, some of my pages have dropped in positioning, but they are now climbing back up. This will no doubt take several more weeks to complete. Many other of my pages rank beautifully for the keyword sets found in the title tags.

The problem with emails of the sort you sent me is: You make a claim of low ranking but you did not tell me for which keywords and for which pages. I know my business better than you do. I know what my customers search for.

I’m sure you know that SEO is a constant battle. Some techniques presently in use may be penalized in the future, so a good SEO needs to know what works and must be aware that it may stop working, and quick corrective action must be taken to recover. It is, in fact, a constant battle, a continuing struggle.


This is how I enter the code in WordPress, which is a tool to build websites.


The title tag is a piece of code behind what you see on any webpage that results in text at the very top of your browser window. That title tag is very important in SEO.


After I enter the code and hit publish, the info at the top of the browser window displays it.


His reply:

Thanks for the explanation.

And then he offered to assist the search engine positioning of this website by offering those paid guest posting services. I quit replying to him.

In case you’re curious about my background in SEO, here’s a brief history:

In 1998, my partner and I created an entertainment website, as a business. It wasn’t long before we realized it did not rank on the many search engines of the day at all. So I contacted a very well-known SEO expert, who shall remain nameless. We arrived at a deal. I sent him money every month – I no longer recall how much – and we waited. Nothing happened.

When things were getting desperate, I got him on the phone and demanded to know what he was doing for us. He said he was constantly working on getting my site ranked, but indicated that if we did a search for our business name, we ranked first! Woohoo! The only problem with that is: If customers did not know about us, why would they search for our business name? That’s when I fired him. The guy is more or less an SEO celebrity and my guess is not many have fired him. For those who go back far enough, a search engine is like an old library card catalog subject search, not a title search. If you don’t go back that far, here’s an example. Every library had one. You could search by title, subject or author.



This was the search engine before there were search engines.


If we were going to survive, I knew I needed to find out how SEO works. I joined an SEO website that proved to be useless. If you’re going to profess to teach a skill, it’s a good idea to actually teach instead of just dilly-dallying around the periphery. I was still lost in the woods until I discovered a booklet called: Nothin’ but Net. This was around year 2000. The author said he made three-quarters of a million bucks selling cell phone batteries using his SEO techniques, and his booklet went into precise detail about how he did it.

Suddenly, the light went on! I immediately began making changes to my website and we got ranked! Finally! I wrote to the author and thanked him profusely. Now, do understand that the techniques that he described are largely ineffective today. Search engines change how they operate. The other thing I did was join which had an excellent SEO section. I have stayed current on SEO matters ever since.

I even created a service where I offered my knowledge and help to other site owners. I got some customers, and then I found out some other guys were trying to pry my customers away by bad-mouthing me. An actual quote from a real estate sale franchisee: “He said he knows you and that you don’t know what you’re doing, and that you’re overpriced.” It happened with every site owner I had under contract.

Soon, I realized I’d be better off putting my skill set to work on my own business websites than trying to defend myself from a bunch of lying snakes. That is exactly what I did.

I even teach SEO. I have a couple friends with websites and they asked for help. I invited ‘em over, one at a time, and walked them through the process. The basic course takes 90 minutes. At the conclusion of one such session, my friend said: “That makes sense. That’s logical.” He asked me to tweak his website to improve his Google ranking and thus the volume of business he does. I went to his shop and in one session made a lot of changes that immediately improved matters.

Oh, one last thing. He had hired an SEO company some years earlier to handle all this for him. They never explained how SEO works but they did send him a lot of useless reports. I read them and laughed. They kept him in the dark and siphoned $2,000 a month out of his wallet. He fired them shortly after our little training session. He offered to pay me but I declined. I take care of his SEO issues and he responds in kind with the services his business offers.

True stories.

About Michael McKown

Avatar photoJournalist, specialty magazine editor/publisher for 22 years, entrepreneur, co-founder of America's largest working dog organization, producer/director, and co-founder of Ghostwriters Central in 2002.