American Express Guide Calls SEOs A “Waste”
Search engine optimization received no love from the credit card issuer’s small business guide, which published some oddly contradictory advice about being found in places like Google or Yahoo.
American Express promotes a small business program called OPEN as part of its Business Gold Rewards Card program. The company also sponsors small business Meetups in several cities.
As Search Engine Watch noted, American Express published views on search engine optimization. The opinion in question comes from a PDF called OPEN Book, which AmEx calls "A practical guide for business growth," available for download from that Meetups page.
Here is the paragraph from the guide that’s like to ruffle some feathers in the SEO community (spacing added):
Search engines, like Yahoo! and Google, are usually the first place people will look for you. Make it easier for them to find you. Yahoo! and Google offer tools to let them know the site map structure of your Web site.
Also, using clean U.R.L.’s like yourdomain.com/store/widgets instead of yourdomain.com/store.php?id=42&categoryID= widgets will increase your chances of getting indexed in a search engine.
Finally, don’t waste money on so-called Search Engine Optimization (S.E.O.) specialists. Search engines are very quick to penalize sites that try to trick their filtering techniques, and once your site has been put on Google’s blacklist, it will take forever to get off.
The advice appears as part of a broader story on building a web presence credited to design group Cuban Council. This is the San Francisco firm that developed the Facebook logo.
Another document also hosted on the OPEN Meetups page promotes the idea of search engine marketing. This document advocates SEO and gives advice on what to do (Use the right keywords. Beware of "Black Hat" optimizers and their tricks) and provides a brief primer on SEM.
Our advice for small business owners: be wary of companies that promote two different ideas to their customers and don’t seem to know they are doing so.