Friday, December 01, 2006

Ted Leonsis SEO Contest is Misguided

While I respect many of the search marketing industry veterans participating in the Ted Leonsis SEO Contest, such as Michael Gray (aka Graywolf) and Todd Malicoat (aka Stuntdubl), I think the whole thing is a bad idea. Why? I worked as a software engineer at AOL from 1995 to 2001. While I can't claim to know Ted Leonsis personally, I knew him from the company-wide meetings. He delivered terrific speeches which always motivated the AOL employees. I remember one meeting where he produced a video montage to get everyone excited about facing the competition. Keep in mind that in the mid '90s AOL was a distant third behind Prodigy and Compuserve in online services. Anyway, one of the clips from Ted's video was the last few minutes of the US-USSR hockey game from the Olympics when the US, as severe underdogs, beat them. The guy next to me was in tears - it was that moving. Anyway, I think Ted Leonsis is one of the good guys. I don't like to see the SEO community bashing him. No, he certainly doesn't need me to stand up for him, but I'll participate in this Ted Leonsis SEO contest. The contest page states:
I guess there are only two rules in play here. The first is that if either myself or Graywolf wins, we will donate the money to St. Jude's Children's Hospital. Anyone else can take the cash if they win. The second rule is you must link back to this page so I know who is eligible to win the loot.
Maine soccer clubIf I win, I'll donate the $500 to Blackbear United Football Club, a not-for-profit 501c3 youth soccer organization that develops soccer players aged 5-18. My brother is the club's director. I like to donate to organizations I'm familiar with. Notice, too, that this contest is called "It's A Very Ted Leonsis Christmas" SEO Contest. You might as well do some Christmas shopping while you're here. Shop from our clients or buy Christmas Gifts from Maine (that's a Squidoo lens). Check out my Ted Leonsis Squidoo lens. Or, forget about this whole Ted Leonsis SEO nonsense and play a game of Squidoo TagMan!

BTW, reading the Washington Post article which appears to have sparked the strong reaction in the SEO community, I don't see what the big deal is. The fact that a CEO wants to learn about and engage in SEO is a good thing. The information in the article is a bit clumsy but that's often how it is when a reporter is pulling together notes from a conversation they've had. I wonder what Ted Leonsis thinks about that article. He posted his reasons for blogging awhile ago and I think it'd be commendable if more executives engaged the blogosphere.

Update: Stuntdubl linked from his original Ted Leonsis post (so I'm linking back).

Update2: If you want to help, please read Ted Leonsis SEO Contest | Request for Help. Thanks.

Update3: Now, I can see going after Jason Calacanis. Not Ted Leonsis.

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Todd said...

Hey Richard -

I agree with you - and I'm actually not a fan of contests - BUT

a. I think Ted is a sharp guy
b. Reputation management is important

>I think Ted Leonsis is one of the good guys.

I think you're right too - and I hope it doesn't turn into a negative thing. I DO think it's a good opportunity to show that SEO and rep management can be good things. Ted is a high profile guy - and it will hopefully attract the attention of other executives curious about rep management.

Added ya to my original Ted page.

6:25 PM  
Richard said...

Hi Todd (aka Stuntdubl),

Thanks for linking from your site. I've linked to yours from this Ted Leonsis Squidoo lens.

I reluctantly joined this SEO contest because, like you, I want to see positive URLs in the "Ted Leonsis" SERPs. I suppose I'm in the unique position of having worked at AOL and now being in the SEM industry. Perhaps that alters my view, but I don't understand what all the fuss is about.

Anyway, thanks for keeping the SEO contest positive.

5:00 PM  
John Andrews said...

Hey Tagman. I'm not sure where you picked a "negative" vibe. This all started when someone read my Ted Leonsis post and took offense at his dismissal of SEO based on limited experience. Ted's a high-profile guy, and an enrepreneur; when he speaks, people listen.

So what's wrong with other's disagreeing with him?

Good to see you in the contest.

10:50 PM  
Richard said...

The WP article doesn't mention SEO. Leonsis simply realized that blogging could help with search engine listings for his own name. How many executives at major corporations get that? How many of them have comments turned on if they do blog? People took your quote, "He doesn't need an SEO, because he is an SEO" and went crazy on sites like making odd statements like:

"Ted Leonsis is NOT attempting to learn, According to Ted he does not need an SEO, he is an SEO... You really think it is bullsh*t to show Ted Leonsis and others SEO is not as easy as all that."


"Ted's a big wig, someone at the top of the AOL food chain. When he makes blanket statements about SEO like that some other execs might actually believe it's really that easy."


"He may say whatever, but he will notice and I'll bet he backs down on the I don't need a SEO, I am an SEO crap as well."

There's a blog post on the site that's sponsoring the SEO contest that reads:

"Let’s say you have a big brand or a big name and you’ve pissed some people off. An entire industry of people who make very good livings off of the very technology you claim to have mastered. Well, you might want to dot those i’s and cross those t’s when spelling “stupid”."

Have you seen the PPC ads on the ted leonsis Google SERP? I currently see:

Vanity Ranks Go Both Ways
Smokey the Bear says Reputation
Management is no laughing matter.
[site snip]

Reputation Management
Playing Games With Your Reputation
Get a Real SEO to Protect it Today
[site snip]

Now, do you see where I've picked up a "negative" vibe? It's one thing to inject a little humor into SEO or PPC listings, but it's another thing to be disrespectful, particularly to someone of Ted's stature.

Do you think these SEO and PPC "hacks" are going to help the SEO/M industry? These are like stupid pranks you do in college. I think they'll further tarnish the reputation of the SEO/M industry. Stupid? Perhaps. Misguided. Definitely.

12:48 AM  

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