Lee Odden

Lameness in the SEO Biz

It’s all part of doing business in the industry, but I’ve been dealing with more and more parasites lately, so here’s my new definition:

  • Competing agencies that do not specialize in search marketing, but are too lazy to learn. They leech off of your information and good nature for their own betterment offering nothing in return and call it “co-opetition”.
  • Prospects that try every trick in the book to suck how-to information out of you in the name of “learning about the SEO process”.
  • Content spammers, copyright and trademark hacks who will take every last opportunity to rob you of your brand and content.

What do you do?

  • Be smarter about how you package information and be more conservative about setting expectations
  • Qualify prospects quickly and be happy to just say no
  • Monitor your brand/content and do something about it when it matters

[/end rant]

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Lee,

    Good post, although I’m sorry it sounds like there are a bunch of crappy people you have to deal with in your business. That doesn’t quite sound fair.

    I wonder, would you mind maybe expanding on your first bullet point “be smarter about how you package…” maybe in a future post? It sounds to me like you might be getting at something that could really apply to all bloggers in terms of how we dispense our knowledge over our blogs.

    Thanks for the good work. Keep it up!


  2. Hey Tony, you caught me in one of my very rare “rants”.

    The people already in the search marketing business are actually a collection of the smartest, most innovative and collaborative bunch I’ve ever had the priveledge to work with.

    It’s the occasional entities that are outside of the search marketing industry that go about things in a parasitic way that gets me going.

    As far as repackaging information, I’ll certainly take a look at posting something more about that. Particulary on full vs partial feeds, full vs partial posts and limiting the amount of detailed how-to information.
    I do think if you post something to the web, you’ve decided that it’s open and available to all, so there shouldn’t be any complaining (by me or others) if someone decides to create an AdSense site out of content grabbed from an RSS feed.

    I don’t have as much of a problem with that as I do when someone “legitimate” takes our content or tools and presents them as their own.

    Thank you for the comment.

  3. Lee: I think everyone trying to make a living in this medium feels your pain. When your product is knowledge and information it is too easy for people to steal from you, expecially if you are open and willing to help.

    As blogging becomes more and more a “business,” this is going to happen with greater frequency, regrettably. Ethics is always second to the might dollar or shekel or ruble or yuan.

    Copyright your knowledge, get on sound legal footing with your Intellectual Property, and make anyone you deal with sign a Confidentiality Agreement. If these are violated then hit the first offender with a sledgehammer and blog about it to the masses. Would that cause any change?

    Takes away the whole community feel doesn’t it? Sadly, that is business. Gird up and get ready. The ride is just starting for all of us.

  4. Good rant, Lee.

    As someone implied here, Search Marketing is still in in its infancy. This has many implications as I spoke about in “Implications Of “Infancy” of SEO-SEM Industry”: http://www.brokerblogger.com/brokerblogger/2005/12/implications_of.html

    You have some great suggestions on what to do about your specific rant points, and I have one “to do” about your rant on “# Prospects that try every trick in the book to suck how-to information out of you in the name of

  5. Avatar steve Mistretta says

    Lee for all of those reasons especially

    “Prospects that try every trick in the book to suck how-to information out of you in the name of

  6. Avatar Michael Brito says

    Hey Lee…this rant wasn’t because I asked you what your opinion was about linking strategies, was it?


  7. Lee,
    You have to expect this sort of activity in any business where there is great revenue to be made. Well before there was an internet there were knock-off artists who made a living stealing product ideas, service ideas, marketing ideas, etc.

    I understand your pain. It is a painful thing to deal with the fact that if your ideas are good, your information is valuable and you can communicate this effectively online; somewhere someone is likely going to use it to their own benefit and enrichment.

    I agree that I too would love to have a better way of dealing with this problem. I toyed for a while with the idea of a blog subscription model. Make people pay for the content I produced on my blogs. I decided against it because the notion of a blog subscription for pay closes off any hope of building a community within the blog.

    I also for a season refused to speak with anyone about communicating on the internet without a small retainer. This has also been phased out as it was too off putting to potential clients online many of who are used to free initial consultations.

    Regarding the monitoring of your own content and doing something about it when it matters; I am not sure I have the time to do this. Do you have any suggestions about an efficient and effective way of doing this that is not going to cost me too much time or money?

  8. 🙂 Regards Lee

  9. I’ve had similar concerns with respect to how much information to put online. I decided to simply go ahead and try listing things like pricing and see what happens. Sorry people are wasting your time.

  10. These posts make interesting reading, particularly for those of us new to blogging and looking at it as a marketing communications vehicle.

    Surely though the point of blogging is to share information and wisdom that others may take value from. By giving away some real value this should enable you to foster an open relationship with prospective clients. After all, you are the experts and it will take your talent and skills to turn text and descriptions in to business results.

  11. I think you should take it as flattery…lol. I don’t have this problem at all. I think that it is perhaps because I am not as much an authority as you. So, congratulations.

  12. I agree entirely. Sometimes you feel that you will be giving away all information just to get a knock back. There needs to be an element of trust and if I feel that I’ve been called in for a fact-finding experiment I’ll let them know and walk. Sometimes I feel that I should optimize anyhow to prove a point, but that idea soon wears off 😉


  1. Starked SF, Unforgiving News from the Bay » Blog Archive » Talk of the Town: Monday, September 25 says:

    […] Parasites in SEO business. […]

  2. […] Was I completely out of line? How would you handle this differently? I’m sure he’ll find some stooge to give the free advice. I’ve been stooged plenty of times by information suckers and SEO parasites on the phone. However, I think you have to value your time and services and just say no in situations like this. […]