April 5, 2007
There's something about the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry that I find highly distasteful. I've never quite been able to put my finger on it, until I read Rich Skrenta's pornographers vs. SEOs.
It's all clear to me now.
SEOs are the new pornographers of the web.
Money is the most prurient interest of all. Just as pornographers sell sex, SEOs sell money. They trade in get-rich-quick schemes via search traffic.
Rich pointed out this SEOmoz post as an example:
My favourite Digg irony is the hatred the (a-HEM) Diggorati have for SEO, coupled with the fact that they fall for linkbait All. The. Time.
Every so often, one of our employees will roll into the office and announce, "I'm going to get on Digg today." Said employee will sit down, write something and then nervously monitor the server as predicted Digg occurs. I can only remember one instance in which this tactic has failed. The post does not always come from SEOmoz; in fact, it's often posted elsewhere. Sometimes, some Diggers will catch on to the fact that the submission came from someone affiliated with SEO and the comments will get nasty, but still the diggs keep going up.
If that's not pure gaming of the system, I don't know what is. There are entire guides on how to properly linkbait, such as Andy Hagans' Ultimate Guide to Linkbaiting and Social Media Marketing. Read it. I did, and now I feel like I just walked through a sewer.
Although SEOs pay lip service to the quality of the content, it's clear that the focus is on one thing, and one thing only: naked, raw greed.
Jason Calacanis is probably the most prominent critic of SEO techniques.
The SEO folks got really pissed off at me for saying "SEO is bulls@#t" last year, but the truth is that 90% of the SEO market is made up of snake oil salesman. These are guys in really bad suits trying to get really naive people to sign long-term contracts. These clients typically make horrible products and don't deserve traffic. That's why they're not getting it organically. So they hire the slimebuckets to game the system for them.
There are some whitehat SEO firms out there, but frankly the whitehat SEO companies are simply doing solid web design. I don't consider them SEO at all. SEO is a tainted term and it means "gaming the system" to 90% of us.
So much of what is optimistically termed Search Engine Optimization is basic web design 101. And yet the seedy SEO underground will still try to convince you their super-secret methods-- their magical snake oil-- is the only formula for success.
In fact, the only difference between SEO "experts" and pornographers is that pornographers are more honest about what they're actually selling. Hiring a SEO expert to increase the quality of your site's content is like renting a porn video for the plot and character development. Stop kidding yourselves.
What's most depressing about all of this is that reliance on SEO is ultimately self-defeating.
Let me tell you a story about my cousin, Steven. Steven wanted to become a musician. He had a rock band he diligently put together, and they recorded an album. When he played the album for me, he described it as a mixture of Green Day with some Linkin Park. He told me how he took the best of both bands and created his own sound.
The problem was, his music was boring, and his band sounded like hundreds of other indie bands.
Steven was just an average looking guy, his band was good but not brilliant, his music was solid, but not different. Steven believed in his band, and he was just good enough for everyone to encourage him to go on working on music, but never good enough to attract a fan base.
But Steven never even tried to build up fans. He never played his music for totally random people, and asked them for their opinion. All he did was try to get the people at the record labels interested in his music. He called and hounded, he stalked and staked out. He kept chasing those labels for years and years, and then suddenly gave up.
Steven did not care about the music. Steven cared about the money. Steven did not concentrate on getting his music to the people, he concentrated on getting his music to the people who would guarantee him money and connections.
When you focus on SEO, you're focusing on money and connections. If that's your goal, then have at it. But don't be surprised when people see through you for what you really are.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
The other parallel? SEO seems to dominate a disproportionate amount of time, energy, and money on the web.
And somebody always ends up getting screwed.
Hillarious! This is why I love Coding Horror...you articulate my gut reactions to all sorts of things!
you might read this:
which will help you understand, if you care to, that you are characterizing a diverse group of people as if they are all the same.
the short story is, SEO is not all about tricks, not all about gaming. if that were the case, Google itself wouldn't say:
"Many SEOs provide useful services for website owners, from writing copy to giving advice on site architecture and helping to find relevant directories to which a site can be submitted."
@Danny....I agree: SEOs are people too. But then come up with a name that's not linked to tainted/gaming/slimy techniques for the "good" people in the industry. Web optimizers? Sounds much better to me...
"Many SEOs provide useful services for website owners, from writing
copy to giving advice on site architecture and helping to find
relevant directories to which a site can be submitted."
Sure. And there are some really *great* articles in Playboy. But that's not what you think of when you hear "porn" now, is it? And as Jeff noted, solid web design isn't what comes to mind for most of us when we hear SEO.
The name's tainted. And it ain't getting any cleaner...
Where did you that picture of me explaining recursion to a friend from? Nice mustache eh?
The photo of the guy holding the Google cheque. Isn't he the owner/founder of plentyoffish.com? I fail to see why an image of him showing a Google cheque, which he's earned, fits in to this post? Especially after the end of the previous line "raw greed".
Diego, I would make the guess that whoever is holding that cheque is the founder of ShoeMoney--namely Jeremy Schoemaker. How that ranks in Jeff's judgment, though, I've no idea.
gosh, you know, a lot of people have odd opinions about gay people. so maybe gay people should come up with a name that's not linked to mistaken stereotypes.
the seos that you assume are in the minority -- the ones that you assume should change to some other name? talk with some of them sometime about the horror stories they've encountered trying to clean up the messes some programmers and designers can make of web sites because they refuse to understand that search engine deserve as much consideration as to how they will render a web site as perhaps opera or safari.
given the bad rep these groups have, maybe they should change their names. they're pretty tainted and not getting any better.
sure, seo gets a bad rep. but it also actually has a good rep with plenty of people who don't assume the worse, who do hire firms and get good help. i'll stick with the name. we've had the stereotypes for years. i'm sure they won't go away. but, you know, ya try.
Heliologue... thanks for the further details. Was just Googling and came across an interesting post about the site's claims and Shoemoney...
A Google image search for "markus plenty off fish" brings up the image Jeff used in this blog post as the first result. Don't know if it's him.
Anyway, I don't really care for the squabbles. At first I thought it was the guy and he's just making money of his popular site then there's someone else saying his claims are false... oh well. Back to twitter.. :)
Diego, thanks for the clarification. I'll update the link so this is clear. Although when your site is named "shoeMONEY", I think that's another illustration of where your priorities are.
Hmmmm... one could easily confuse this post as a linkbait post? Meets the well known hooks of attack or contrary.
SEO is the ancient art of advertising pure and simple. Just as slimy (or not) as any other advertising. Anytime you think about nothing but advertising and stop caring about your product you are bound to start getting slimy.
The salesman that sells you your car using human engineering, the fact that milk is a loss leader and in the back of the supermarket, making your company start with AAA to get at the top of the list, and playing up controversies to get more exposure in the media...... Marketing and advertising tactics existed long before SEO. SEO is just the latest incarnation.
Nobody loves marketing/advertising but it plays an essential role if you ever want to sell anything. All marketing/advertising is a calculated way to sell a product. It may seem duplicitous, but people will continue to market/advertise. SEO won't go away it will just smarter about getting on our radar and annoying us.
There's no doubt SEO is a pointer to a very shandy portion of the web that is not a good citizen--that which tries to "fool" relevancy with interest. However, search traffic, if used correctly is less intrusive than even typical media ads. If I know you're looking for a 2005 M3 Convertable, then I'm going to show you an ad for that and not financial services (ala CNN).
Given that, I think a real marketplace exists for people who want to help advertisers enter the relevancy game. I mean, how many companies have you seen whose entire brand is presented in Flash? If a consultant tries to optimize a site for relevancy with actual content treatment and ad to context ranking.. isn't that just making a better user experience for all?
As with anything it's all a semantics game. If you define an SEO as someone who helps people most efficiently match their advertisements with the needs of searchers, to me, that's doing the web a service. If you define it as one who tries to fool search engines into thinking you're relevant for a term on which you are not.. then priorities are not only opportunistic, but also lacking foresight.
I'm the other example that Rich used in his post of an SEO who pays attention to changes in technology on the Web.
You may view the SEO industry as one which primarily engages in get-rich quick schemes and scamming people, but I view it as an industry which amongst other things, helps people who have been harmed by programmers and designers who don't know as much about the Web as they should.
You know, the designers who convince their clients that search engines will be able to understand and index content on the all-flash sites that they build for those clients, or who place important text within images that search engines can't read.
The programmers who come up with content management systems that pass multiple data variables through the URLs of web pages, and sites with pages that have multiple different URLs all pointing to the same page, or endless loops that keep spiders from indexing sites.
Or the template builders who decide that they should make the post dates in blog posts into H2 elements, and the post titles into H3 elements, even though the post date isn't a semantically meaningful heading for a post.
Some aspects of SEO are basic web design 101, but the skillset that a good SEO possesses can go far beyond that. But selling snake oil is a skill that only a few possess and practice. If you haven't read Danny's Search Engine Land link above, I hope that you will.
Where's the similarity with porn? If you're trying to say it's simply as objectionable as porn, then it's so poor a comparison as to be meaningless. In that case you could say SEO is the new pyramid scheme. Honestly, I think people just like hearing and using the word porn, it still shocks people surprisingly.
I work in the industry by the way. All of the products my company, and 99% of our competitors, sell are both legal and truthfully advertised. I don't work with greasy sleazbags (though there are some in the industry) and resent the implication that we're all somehow shady. If you're going to demonize the adult industry fine, I understand some people's objections to what we do, though I don't share them myself.
Oh, and I'm posting this under a pseudonym because the world's too ignorant to have a mature perspective of the industry I call home.
SEOs are the *new* pornographers of the net? SEOs are as old as the search engines, which have most likely been round on the net longer than you have!
Some dentists take more then 500$ for 5 minutes of work, nobody says nothing against this people. People involved in plain marketing are trying to earn some money for thier clients, nobody talks negative about them. But if some guy or company work as SEO it's a big problem, why? All other industries work to earn money and pay the bills.
SEO is not tips and tricks, it is more about knowledge of SE guidelines these days, like
* Duplicate content checks
* Sitemap submissions
* Webmaster tools
and so on and on. Also many brilliant people do not have time to understand the html part of their business. a good SEO will empower the web business. Do not generalize it this way.
I think alot of the other posters would agree it's not the SEO that are slimy it's the people hiring them. The SEO's are just trying to provide a service, just like the the neighborhood video store with a porn section in the back. They do it because there are poeple looking for it but they run their business with the real content up front.
Who would have thought so many SEO fanboy marketeers would read this blog? And who would have thought they were such sensitive souls? :) hehe
"But then come up with a name that's not linked to tainted/gaming/slimy techniques for the "good" people in the industry."
That's not really a bright suggestion. The phrase SEO way predates the stigma that the shysters have caused to be associated with it. What do you do afterwards, license out to who can and cannot refer to themselves by this "new name"?
The problem is not even that the mass majority of SEO professionals are scam artists, or the web equivalent of used car salesmen. It is a problem of what sticks out in the average webmasters mind... the bad aftertaste that comes from either getting screwed or reading about someone else who did.
The major glaring flaw with the association being made between porn and seo is that 100% of pornographers engage in what is viewed as a less than moral field. As has been pointed out, making the same sweeping statement about an entire industry is obviously nothing more that a somewhat slimy attempt to garner attention. Attention seeking tactics are not in and of themselves a bad thing, just when they can only be gotten through an attempt to smear others.
Now, all that being said... wtf is wrong with porn? :)
Wow. You are really making a huge generalization here. I think a distinction needs to be made between Search Engine Optimization as a profession and search engine optimization as a skill set.
SEOs are professionals, many of whom are highly valued employees for respected companies. In fact, I'd be really surprised to hear of any large companies that don't have an in house SEO these days.
I am not a SEO. I am a programmer/ web developer. I do, however, try to keep up to date on all aspects of search engine optimization, because I know how important it is.
There are also a lot of other people who know and use SEO, including spammers. Yes there are people who just spam for a living, and many of them use SEO techniques to manipulate search results.
On Social Media: If a "SEO" submits a story to a social bookmarking site, and it becomes popular, then maybe it's just a good article. Otherwise, why would people keep voting for it?
On SEO being useless: Search engines wouldn't really work so well if people didn't optimize pages for them:
How many of the 33,700,000 pages here -- (http://www.google.com/search?q=untitled+document ) might contain some really great content that will never be found, just because the author didn't know how to optimize their pages to help search engines rank them.
The early-adopter aspect is really the only part of the comparison that holds up (that, and both SEO-ers and pornographers are scum). Pornographers are producing a commodity, one that's been in quite high demand for 150 years apparently. SEOs just exploit a market inefficiency. They're really very different.
Jeff, I think you're April fools post should have been the most ludicrous comparison you could have cooked up, but then you should have written an actual article for it so that people would have no idea if you were joking or not. Actually, you're next article should just be a contest for who can come up with the best Codding Horror article title, then you should write a serious-sounding article for the winner. Then get it on Digg.
I'll kick things off. I know these suck, so let's see somebody do better:
J2ME Programming as Organic Farming
Web Development as Public Urination
The Open Source Community is the New Catholic Church
This all leads me to one question: Who's our Gordon Gekko?
Jeff, I can't believe how wrong you are on this one.
Using SEO as you term it is one small part of the SEO business. MOST people doing SEO are employed, legitimtely, to increase their client's website exposure, and therefore to get their client's more sales. And by clients, I mean every day, run-of-the-mill businesses, trying to make money through their website.
Saying that SEOers are pornographers is akin to saying that all photographers are pornographers becase a small percentage of them take porn photos. It's just plain wrong. You're giving SEOers a bad name.
I usually value your opinion, but in this case, you need to look past all the big-number cheques and Diggs and do some better research.
There are thousands of perfectly legitimate SEO companies out there doing good work for their customers and helping them grow their business.
By the way, it's Google that makes the real money from the people you mention - these SEOs just get a cut. Does that mean that Google is the 'Playboy' empire of search engines?
ps. if this post isn't link-bait, I don't know what is.
SEO isn't a skill; this is basic HTML Web Development 101.
In that case, maybe you should change the title of this post to:
"HTML Developers: the New Pornographers of the Web" ?
Calcanis' bitching is hilarious, given I've seen the companies internal mailing list for Weblogs Inc. drones. Every other post is "Please digg this" and a link to some worthless post on one of their pointless websites.
Link baiting makes you feel like your in a sewer huh? We this article put you there.
As a developer/programmer who has seen and surely written many "coding horrors" in the past, I have enjoyed and valued your blog as entertainment and a resource. However, this post is just babbling at the mouth of a ludicrous apples to oranges analogy. I hope this is just a perverted test of "link baiting", and not your true beliefs on SEO, or insight into your lack of true web development experience.
As a long-time "web developer" myself, and I assume to some degree you are as well with your occassional web related post, you must have been asked to write "SEO" type code at some point in your career. You even provided a "SEO tip" in your February post concerning URL Rewriting to Prevent Duplicate URLs (http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000797.html). While you may have not mentioned "search engine optimization" in your post, you did talk about the benefit of the solution and "page rank". I guess this begs the question if you are a pornographer, or merely the porn star?
The simple fact is, there are alot of HORRIBLE architectured websites with valuable information on them that are never seen in the search engines because the developers of these sites do not understand how search engines and indexing works or do not care. Regardless if you are compensated for your SEO knowledge/skills, it is our duty as web developers to ensure that our sites are properly optimized to be search engine friendly so PEOPLE can find them.
Because I dabble in SEO for clients from time to time, does that make me a pornographer? Only if I build porn websites for them IMO. Personally, I have only built one of the SEO 3 P's (Porn, Pills, and Poker), and porn was not one of them. Anyone want to "bet" on which one. You have a 50/50 chance of winning ;-)
If someone want to compensate my web development AND search engine optimization skills for cold hard cash, you can call me a pornographer or just a plain whore, I don't care as long as I can continue to put food on the table.
SEOs just exploit a market inefficiency
SEOs exploit people's greed. Who needs good, relevant content when you have linkbait and magical SEO pixie dust?
it is our duty as web developers to ensure that our sites are properly optimized to be search engine friendly so PEOPLE can find them
That's right: SEO isn't a skill; this is basic HTML Web Development 101. Make sure your pages have title tags.. avoid postbacks.. use simple URLs.
I'll agree that many web developers don't understand this, but many web developers are also terrible *developers*.
HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. Excellent! Linkbaiting the linkbaiters! Just look at all those links piling up. Show all those "SEOs" that you know more about "SEO" than they ever will, Jeff. Never let facts get in the way of a great linkbait.
basic HTML Web Development 101. (...) use simple URLs.
For example, not
I'll agree that many web developers don't understand this, but
many web developers are also terrible *developers*.
Well, yeah... But like the example above, nobody can know everything about web development. That doesn't make them terrible developers.
It is true, however, that anyone should take a SEO "consultant"'s claims with the same amount of salt that you use for any other consultant. Anyone promising to make you the most visited site on the planet is lying.
The fact is that most of their advice is quite "common sense but not commonly known" when you think about it. I mean, you can surely see that my suggestion about different url's will give you more keyword matches in Google (as we put semantic content in the url, it will match the url as well as the page contents), but if I had just made you pay $10,000 for that knowledge you would surely feel ripped off.
Finally, there is no silver bullet. (Otherwise every site would end up No 1 for every search.) So no one should expect to get that from a SEO.
I never understand why people pay for SEOs, when all ya need to do is simple basic HTML adjustments that any competent person can do.
Also, in terms of content, how difficult is it to understand that keywords, phrases, and relevant content is utmost important? It's like writing an essay at University level.
It's common sense once ya know the very basics.
"I never understand why people pay for SEOs, when all ya need to do is simple basic HTML adjustments that any competent person can do."
Well clearly, it's not that simple. There is a lot to know about SEO. That's why people employ SEOs, and SEOs exist.
All the SEO explanations I read seem trivial to me. Advertising is scum, yah, and we should all see if you haven't "The Truth In Advertising."
Regarding the companies that don't want to learn SEO and helping them, the helping is really boiling down to, use online tools provided easily by Google to help with Google indexing, put a title on your webpages, this is how robots.txt and meta tags work -- Google's algorithm indexes by number of uses of words and who's linking to you -- all in all, if you didn't know these things you simply just fail at web development. It's true that tools like Dreamweaver, even MS Word now can be used to generate a website and everybody wants their own page (myspace's success) but I see it as peripheral web development services.
I've used Google Adsense, and Adwords and MSN marketing and Yahoo! marketing and text link ads to promote some of the projects I've worked on but I wouldn't call myself a SEO guy. Just purchased advertising -- and for people who don't know those kind of things, you really just have A LOT to learn about web development/using the web.
I made the mistake of subscribing to some RSS feeds for these SEM/SEO guys, and it's just repetitions of basic web development coupled with complete crap on how to manipulate the public. The world changed in the early 1900s as public relations took hold, and the focus groups, and not for the better. Thank you Adblock.
For the 6 years I have been providing search optimization services to clients, I can safely say that while these business owners were all motivated to invest in their websites by the opportunity to avail their businesses of the traffic that Google brought together into a single market, not one of them was of the mindset that they would gladly smear their own reputation for a few more sales.
It strikes me as very similar to consultant bashing when I read these anti-SEO themes. We provide an experienced and valuable service for other business owners whose lives and livelihoods are buoyed by the growing market of search traffic and the potential customers that grow it. We are working with real businesses to attract an interested audience to their place of E-Business and if it was easy or all a big scam, could the SEO industry survive? Find a company that wants to provide a service and you've found a partner whether they print your menus or master your website.
Seriously, how are you gonna sit there and badmouth an entire industry of web service providers? Think of mechanics. Do you blame the uninformed repair customer for choosing a chop shop? Remember that good news travels fast and bad news travels faster. The companies on the first page of Google in natural results aren’t the ones complaining about it are they? I feel sympathy for every business that has been Sold rather than Taught, and I offer a bit of my time to show you the difference.
Who needs good, relevant content when you have linkbait
Good relevant content *is* linkbait, and it's usually a lot better than this sorry attempt at socialist-tinged controversy.
You're a poor man's Jason Calacanis, Atwood, which is a truly sad place to be. Enjoy.
I'm sorry Jeff, but I'll have to disagree with you here, when I've had to update sites for people, I've seen such a mess made by the previous developers. Sometimes I get lost in the what they're trying to sell, market, or whatever, based on their designs.
Don't forget that it is far cheaper for a mom and pop shop to hire a "SEO" firm rather than a good developer. The way they look at it is, we'll pay a few hundred dollars a month to someone, rather than pay $5K to redo our entire site.
I agree that you wouldn't need SEOs if it wasn't for bad development, at the same time if you look at majority of small business sites, they're pretty much something out of the box, the hosting company provided them with, and more often than not it's crap.
We can't brush all SEOs with the same brush, granted most do fit the bill though.
I actually can't believe you've taken the time to write this tripe (nor that I've actually bothered to comment on it).
Organic search is a fundamental channel of the online environment. Apart from being a suberb low cost traffic generator,if nothing else it is the lowest common denominator and can greatly magnify the effects of promotional work through other channels. In short, good defensive SEO means your name/brand in lights where it needs to be on the web. Good aggressive SEO can position your name/brand at the forefront of relevant current events and drive significant revenue.
Web development without SEO is an absolute abortion and diplays a basic lack of understanding of the way that humans use the internet. If you can't see the value of SEO, you should make sure you stick to backend applications or get out of the business altogether. SMM tactics are motivated by the same manipulative marketing needs that drive all other channels, period. To throw all SEOs in with the black hats is naive.
Now, have I just fallen for link bait?
Vietnam, a country made famous by war, has a unique and rich civilisation, spectacular scenery and friendly people. From the Red River Delta in the north to the Mekong River in the south, the scenes throughout Vietnam are timeless, with green rice paddies tended by labourers in conical hats.
The most priceless example validating this blog entry? The comment above mine, clearly comment spam by some jackass trying to get a backlink to boost his PR.
You've taken a few random quotes completely out of context.
If this isn't linkbait, then I think you don't understand much of the web world. Many sites fail, not because they're not good, but because no one ever sees them.
Yes, there are people that try to f**k the system - there always will be. However, a lot of SEO is about making sites more efficient for the person, because most of the tactics that give you good rankings are just good web practices.
You're absolutely right! I was thinking of the same thing a couple of days back, and was happy I had something to start blogging (again) with. You've beat me to it.
A lot of people have said that you're generalizing, but in my mind, SEO isn't respectable anymore. It's long fallen from its 'specialist' status, and now it's down there with Youtube; Everyone does it, and most do it badly. And the reason for that is intent, as you rightly put it.
Man, I wish I could find a get rich quick scheme that actually worked. I have to admit though. SEO pervs have clogged the internet with junky spam sites and google eats them up. That's why I just try to SEO my porn instead of SEO junk. Much easier.
What are we here, communists? Are we unhappy with economic models within the borders of the US or North America?
Porn is what it is, and is unapologetic about it. It's pics and videos of people getting it on.
SEO in it's various forms is people trying to change, alter or enhance how a website is viewed by another (massively) for-profit website cataloging service. That's all.
Do you know that there are these distasteful groups of people out there, working in tall buildings covered in mirrored glass and stainless steel called "consultants", whose only job is to change, alter or enhance the way a business is run, solely for the purpose of making more money!?! They hide behind these gates and large logoed signs with names like Accenture, Deloitte Touche and BCG (who gave all 101-level economics professors the BCG matrix to teach their students).
I couldn't believe it when I heard about it.
I can't believe how far society has fallen. When people will do things....for money!
I think you would do the world a great service if you were to make a stand for your beliefs and stop accepting pay for the work that you do. I mean, we can all get by on a little love, right?
"Love is all you need" - The Beatles
Hilarious! As someone said, this one is a good linkbait as well. Prepare to get tonnes of "pretty hard" linkbanks from SEO sites!
I have to disagree about SEOs from Jeff's point of view. If the web is your business, then you probably want someone or somegroup doing search engine optimization, and based on some of the posts here, there seems to a legitimate business around this.
Just for example, take this site:
Now if I type in "Coding Horror" into Google, your site comes up #1 relevance. However, how many newbies woudl know that, no one.
However if I type in "programming discussion group" or something else a little more generic that I am interested in, no Coding Horror. Then I would miss out on the fine content here. I would probably end up someplace like "Joel On Software".
For this site, not that big a deal, because this is not a commerical web site. But, if you selling computers, or stereos or something else over the web, relevancy is huge. If you get in on the first google page, 100s and 1000s of more visitors come to your site to potentially buy things.
I agree there is definately some "tricky" means of "pushing" your site and its content to the top of the relevancy list, and its not just coding titles in your HTML pages. Meta tags used to be a big deal, not sure if they still are. Knowing the way Google and other search engines work to make the relevancy rankings I can see someone paying for, espeically if your primary business source is the web.
It's hard to defend SEO when you use the truly greedy as examples. Great linkbaiting, you are an expert!
Visit Google Groups or other forums and you will find many extremely smart SEOs helping others out while asking for little in return.