American Express Guide Calls SEOs A “Waste”

Advice from OPEN publication slams SEO pros

Get the WebProNews Newsletter:

[ Search]

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.

American Express Guide Calls SEOs A “Waste”
Top Rated White Papers and Resources
  • http://www.cool-designs.org ???? ?????

    Sorry form him for he doesn’t know the difference between SEO and SEO spam.

    • http://www.moovinonup.com/ SEO

      he sure doesnt people like that give us a bad name

  • http://www.seo-pro-singapore.com seo singapore

    What a load of bollocks.

    Anyhow that statement Amex made is really uncalled for. It’s more of an opinion than a fact. Opinions published in that fashion is a really daft move. What Amex said will surely draw wary attention of prospective clients for SEO’s but there will be a heavier weight of the SEO community who will draw negative comments toward Amex. 

    Amex really shouldnt forget that dishing uncalled for or unsubstantiated comments like that can damage their online reputation – Especially when youre dealing with SEO’s  ; ) .

    Oh well, it really seems to me the person who wrote the article has had a bad experience and developed a hatred toward SEO services. 

  • http://www.excessivesweatinginfo.com Marius

    good and bad, honest and scammers in every industry out there. Is like calling all the casino and adult webmaster spammers, just because these industries are generally associated with spam and black hat techinques.


  • http://www.indianpad.com/user/boots72/history L.W. From Indian Pad

    Apparently, some BlackHat seo convinced one of the big bosses at their headquarters to spend thousands of dollars on search engine "tricks and gimmicks", and probably got their site pimp slapped by Google’s PHD developers’ algorithm. 

    It sounds like it is an angry cry for help, in which case, what they really mean is: "Can someone please show us the right way to rank our sites without ripping us off, and having our sites banned and competitors snagging most of our potential profit."

    To me, SEO is a way for the search engines to find your sites and filter through all of the crap that the search engine tricksters flood Google and other search engines with.  You can be blinded by the truth and think that, "Hey, if we build it and follow rules, they’ll come."  Soon after, you’ll have a rude awakening. 

    I understand their view about watching out for people looking to charge you money only to get your site banned, but the truth is, if you are into quality SEO it likely won’t happen in the first place. 

  • http://www.mbridge.com mbridge

    The only thing about SEO that matters are the results.

    What’s interesting is the number of companies stating that they are the SEO "Experts."  It is far easier to tell people you are an expert, than to actually deliver any meaningful results.  Anyone can put up a web-site claiming to help your site gain more audience.  After 6 months if nothing happens they can say, "Well….  Google changed their algorithm on us.  Let’s try for another 3 months and see what happens."

    AMEX may have been alluding to this fact, though the way they said it could lead one to believe that all SEO is a waste of resources.

    SEO of course does have a place as long as it does what it is supposed to do.  The tough part is determing which company will actually make good on their promises.


    • http://kaibo2.com Kaibo2.com

      If someone tells you that they guarantee top 10 or 20 for 2000 bucks within 1 or 3 months, they are the “so-called” SEOs, who are most likely some “black hats” . Real SEOs can plan good things to improve your ranking in a long run and that takes great efforts, that’s why they are expensive, but can really help you maximize your ROI.

  • http://www.g4hq.com Runescape Forums

    its not a waste, they are just mad that they are getting owned by SEOs

  • http://www.affiliate-marketing101.com/ Kevin – Webmaster (Affiliate Marketing Help 101)

    In my opinion, SEO is dead! You need to optimize your site for the visitors: it’s called VEO or Visitor Experience Optimization. The idea is to build a website your visitors will absolutely love. Provide useful information and provide links to other sites related to yours. If you build a quality site other webmasters will link to it to enrich their own visitors’ experience and your site’s popularity will rise.

  • http://travel-guide2india.blogspot.com Tourism places in India- Famous places in India

    To me, SEO is a way for the search engines to find your sites and filter through all of the crap that the search engine tricksters flood Google and other search engines with.  You can be blinded by the truth and think that, "Hey, if we build it and follow rules, they’ll come."  Soon after, you’ll have a rude awakening.

  • http://www.iwanted.ca Free High PR Links

    I guess one could say the same thing for AMEX as well.  The power of SEO cannot be denied.  How else can one take a website from obsurity to be profitable doing nothing else other than SEO?

    Get with the program there AMEX

    Internet Marketing Website SEO

  • http://www.swankigifts.com/ Articles

    Damn… thats a pretty harsh statement.

  • http://www.articleblip.com Articles, News, Facts

    Great article, I just cut up my AMEX card

  • http://www.1seoexperts.com Yamir Coochah

    I wonder what is behind this?  Perhaps there was an inordinate amount of money charged back regarding seo companies.

  • http://www.motorcycle-helmet-affordable.com/ full face helmet

    Why they said? I cut off my amex card.

  • http://www.pennington-high-school.com Pennington Gap VA

    "I wonder what is behind this?  Perhaps there was an inordinate amount of money charged back regarding seo companies."


    Yamir, that’s a good point.


    This is also coming from a giant company with name/brand recognition long before the internet mattered. Companies like this have never had to ‘work’ at it.



  • http://www.answerblip.com/2008 answer archives


  • http://vb.maas1.com ???????


  • http://www.ssrichardmontgomery.com ron

    I find from my site logs that about 90% of my traffic from search comes from Goggle,yahoo,& msn. I do my own seo but makes very little difference. have been using the net with my (own sites 3-4 years) for about 12 years so what chance of the average user using any other search engines as a preference to the main 3 in my logs

  • http://www.lenmolden.com Len Molden

    I also think that American Express has some other agenda it’s pushing making comments like: “don

  • http://acheapwebdesign.com CheapWebDesign

    SEO can’t be bad for a website given that Google itself emphasizes on it.

  • http://www.seosean.com SEO Service

    Booo, I think they have some sort of misunderstanding or had a bad experience with SEO in the past.

    • http://www.endai.com Michael Kannon

      The article notes, “The advice appears as part of a broader story on building a web presence credited to design group Cuban Council.”

      One look at the Cuban Council website shows content that channels the viewer to their message. It’s very thoughtfully designed to control this. But nowhere on their site does it mention SEO, its just not part of the Cuban Council service.

      So when AMEX paid these professionals for content, its not surprising they recommended against SEO.

  • http://www.webwildcatting.com dbvanhorn

    While I agree with many here that AMEX took a low blow, I really don’t think it is quite in context. AMEX is obviously pointing to acts of malicious link sharing etc., that frankly will get your site blacklisted.

    However, proper SEO, done with a systematic approach of optimizing each page is a much different animal. Any ‘new’ web site owner can come to us at www.webwildcatting.com to learn the difference. We practice the fine art of organic search. Not to gip Google out of any money, because we believe Adwords have their place. Our goal is to demonstrate to our clients the value of ‘paying’ attention to your page content and taking the time to do it right the first time as over the long haul we will generate better results.

    Any quality SEO firm will not promise you ‘instant on’ results. If they do, run screaming from the room and come talk to us at www.webwildcatting.com where drilling for profit on the internet is our business. Let us help you with yours. db

    • Guest


  • http://www.designbits.de Webdesign Hamburg

    Wow, these people are crazy. But if they don’t need SEO that fine too.

  • http://www.biznesor.pl biznes

    Well I think SEO is not dead. However search engines algorithms are changing.

  • http://fightexcessivesweating.com Orville

    SEO is not a waste IMO, it helps many webmasters to gain traffic from organic search and make money for it.

  • Guest

    Here it is a year later and SEO is not dead. Guess it was all blah.


  • http://tostopsweating.com/ sweatstop

    SEO is good thing for new sites.

  • http://www.colourscape.co.uk Colourscape Photographic Backgrounds

    I also believe you have to build a website your visitors will love. I do not believe SEO is dead, what is the point of having a great website if no one finds it ?

  • Join for Access to Our Exclusive Web Tools
  • Sidebar Top
  • Sidebar Middle
  • Sign Up For The Free Newsletter
  • Sidebar Bottom