Friday, 29 March 2013

"My SEO Shame" And Why Bonkers Is (Quite Literally) A Traffic Stopper!

Topic advisory - this post may only interest fellow bloggers, bots and web techies of most stripes...

I get a fair bit of mail in my flittersniffer inbox - not, as you might think, so much in the way of reader emails - you know, enlisting my help to track down a discontinued perfume or something that might serve as a decent substitute.  There was the out-of-the-blue request from Kirsten that time to help her with her l'Artisan rebranding project, but that was a one-off.  Then I suppose I do receive a fair few press releases for upcoming perfume and beauty product launches, but the single main category of mail I get at the moment is from SEO companies offering to help "fix" my blog (for a fee, obviously).

Now I am aware of the sorts of measures I should be taking to optimise my Google page rank in the Interwebs and to attract readers to Bonkers: things like regularly updated - and popular - content, and engaging with the reader through polls and giveaways.  It is also advised to shoehorn as many key search words into the title of your post, and to make a point of repeating the name of the item you are blogging about - a perfume, typically - as often as is humanly possible in the body of your post without being so heavy-handed as to draw the reader's attention to the fact.  Oh, and not forgetting the addition of a liberal smattering of labels/tags, embedded links to your archived posts, and sharing galore on social media. 

Maybe I just need to give up wheat, like Gwyneth?

So, yes, I know this is what you are meant to do to to make your blog more successful, and I do definitely nod in the direction of some of it, however in the grand scheme of things I am only paying lip service at best.  This is partly due to inertia and laziness, and partly because some of the more artificial tactics - like repeating the name of the topic a lot or having titles that are totally on-message - don't sit well with the the "house style" of Bonkers, which leans to the whimsical and the random.  

But these SEO companies are not to know that - they are reaching out (how I hate that phrase!) to a blog they see as floundering, with the promise that they can sort out the half-cocked mess that my behind-the-scenes - and behind the curve! - content has become.

So I thought I would share with you some of the recent highlights from my mailbox!   I didn't understand a lot of them, but they were uniformly amusing.

First off, a gentle warning from a company in the US:

"In the present day scenario it’s very essential to take a proper care of your website and keep it updated with fresh and original contents. One single unwanted link might put your website in disaster situation."

This from a company in India:

"I would like to update you that your website is still not ranked on the top pages of Google SERPs for your popular keywords (Products). Your loss is your competitor’s gain i.e. the traffic which could have generated quality sales for you goes to your competitors as they rank well in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) organically."

Sales?  SERPS?  Isn't that something to do with pensions?  The company goes on to explain:

"If you are getting rigid by paying a huge amount in PPC, then Organic listing by using white hat technique will be definitely a right choice for you. As the rate of conversion is more in organic listing as compared to PPC, eventually it will be an absolute gain for you." 
Rigid?  Stiff as a board, me!  Though that's more from not having done pilates for a year and a half.  And white hat technique?  I am reassured to hear it.  I was so interested in fact that I took a look at this company's website, where I learnt that they also specialise in Google Panda and Penguin Complaint SEO Services, which is good to know.  Pandas and penguins are endearing creatures and I like the thought of their complaints being promptly attended to.

And in case I am wavering...

"I know I am not the only company who is providing this service, but I can bet that the quality and genuine service you will get no other company won’t provide you."

I can bet too.

And finally this, from a saddlery factory in China.  Not about Search Engine Optimisation interestingly, but offering to satisfy all my saddlery needs, which are of course extensive and wholly unmet.

"Great to know you are working in field of saddlery.  This is Mr.Win working in Rayyee Saddlery Co., Ltd which is a professional horse grooming and cleaning products factory in china.We have most complete varieties as well as more than 10 years exporting history in this fields.  

We are very strong at all kinds of comb,curry comb,hoof pick,sweat scraper,horse brush,feed scoop,forks,boot jack as well as horse grooming kit and so on.

You can check my attachment." 

Does his attachment have a sweat scraper, I wonder?

Photo of Google from, album cover from, cartoon of panda and penguin from, photo of sweat scraper from


queen_cupcake said...

I'm not a blogger, but I got a pretty good giggle from this. To paraphrase a song from the good ol' 60s, "..but baby, remember! It's your blog, you can do what you want!"

Vanessa said...

Hi queen_cupcake,

Glad you ventured to read this post, for to write about SEO matters on a perfume blog is - by the SEO folk's own yardstick! - a pretty off-topic thing to do, hehe.

That's a good motto from the song you paraphrased - I think I am happy to follow it for the most part. : - )

Anonymous said...

A cute and funny take-down of the SEO marketers. Thanks for the laugh.

Vanessa said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for dropping by - am glad my post raised a smile. : - )

Andrew said...

Following on to your comment back on my site, now I completely understand the interest in the send-up. You're completely spot on. We're all 'supposed' to increase the presence or search appearance of our content in sites such as Google and the like, and I admit that I keep it in mind when writing but not to the point where it completely interferes with the overall quality of the message. It's been enough of a debate with other bloggers about the balance between maintaining integrity versus "building the brand".

The bottom line for me is that -- if I need to constantly incent you to read my site by providing giveaways with every review -- I may as well hang it up and tell people I'm just engaging in the world's oldest profession, and the only difference is in which currency is being used.

Tara said...

Thanks for this enlightening (?)and amusing insight, V.

I am relieved that all your future saddlery needs are now taken of ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Andrew,

This post has been brewing a while, and reading yours on the topic of authenticity in blogging very likely made it jump to the top of the queue, because the 'bribed read' gambit is another way of skinning the traffic-building cat (pardon?!). I do host giveaways myself, but I am quite sparing/stingy?? :-) in that regard. Actually, I think I see more of what you describe on beauty blogs tbh - well certainly more PR copy being seamlessly included.

I didn't even plan to blog today, but the topic just kind of welled up in me! Does that count as a sort of "organic traffic" too, I wonder...?

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

I am indeed more bamboozled than ever by these SEO strategies!

Yes, it is a great relief to have my saddlery needs fully catered for. I am sure the combs and brushes in particular will come in handy. :-)

Cheryl Quimby said...

I love your witty analysis of the SEO stuff. And so glad to see you have finally branched into saddlery. :)

I used to get similar messages whenI used blogspot, but I'm not getting them (or there are filtered) on wordpress. And I do absolutely nothing. I mean nothing, to lure traffic to my site. Maybe I'm just way under the radar!

Happy Friday.

Anonymous said...

Dear lady, you make me laugh. I love your blog, and please don't change a thing! You have this gentle, wry humor, a professional traveler's eye, and educated taste in furniture, fragrance and (yes) perfume. I'd hate some commercial interest to change how you present your thoughts in this blog. May your blog remain a fun outlet for your musings. I certainly enjoy it.
(Off topic, and late as usual, but BTW, I must be of a different generation as well, I have loads of bars of exotic soaps. I related completely to your recent post, and luxurious bar soap is a pleasure I treasure :D) Be well.

Hazel said...

I think you should get together with Mr Chin with a view to developing a range of equine perfumery. When you sweat like a horse you need some kind of after-gallop splash on. Saddle soaps by Imperial Leather perhaps. Eau de Newmarket. Alpha Centaur. Win By A Nose.

Vanessa said...

Hi Cheryl,

Yet another nail in the coffin of Blogger, if Wordpress has good spam filters as well as all its other virtues (which are legion). Though Blogger did give me some material for a silly post, which is always welcome.

Well done you for not luring anyone to your site. It makes me even more inclined to visit! I want to take a more leisurely look at your Grasse post, for example.

Vanessa said...

Hi HemlockSillage,

Lovely to hear from you - your comments are always such a tonic! I am confident that Bonkers will continue in much the same vein - I don't think I could do anything else with a straight face.

And it is nice to meet another reactionary soap bar lover. Welcome to our dwindling club!

Vanessa said...

Hi Hazel,

What a hilarious notion! There is of course Hermes Equipage already, and one could argue that the Ralph Lauren line sports a polo horse motif, but I feel this particular equine seam is far from fully mined.

I am particularly liking Win by a Nose. No aspiring perfumer should be without a bottle in his personal wardrobe, horse lover or not.

Elisa said...


"But these SEO companies are not to know that - they are reaching out (how I hate that phrase!) to a blog they see as floundering, with the promise that they can sort out the half-cocked mess that my behind-the-scenes - and behind the curve! - content has become."

I know you're joshing around, but just in case these unsolicited offers make you at all self-conscious, please know that I work for a very successful SEO company -- we are regularly invited to write about and give presentations on how to do SEO -- and we get those same dumb emails about how we could get better rankings, from companies that suck at SEO compared to us. So please don't take it personally :)

Vanessa said...

Hi Elisa,

I am indeed joshing around, and I know there are pukka companies too who really help websites position themselves more favourably in the hierarchy of the Interwebs, which is especially helpful if you have a product to sell.

The chap who set up and maintains ex-Mr Bonkers' website is one such. My ex is successful in his musical field for sure, but is hampered by having a very common name. Thanks to the offices of this techie wizz, if I google my ex he comes up as No 2, which is impressive! (Or he does on my computer - YMMV :-) )

olenska said...

I want to comment coherently, but a long day in the saddle herding SERPS, penguins, and pandas has gotten me pretty rigid. Plus, this white hat is making my head itch.

(Seriously, I have laughed myself straight down onto the floor over this post. Please let Mr. Win I may need to have an attachment or two checked.)

Bryan Ross said...

Vanessa, do these companies offer translation pamphlets to accompany their messages?

Kafka said...

Sweat scraper???! ROFL. I'm laughing so hard, you have no idea. I almost wish you had written back to ask about the rest of his inventory.

As for SEO marketers, my favorite ones are the numerous comments telling me that my posts really need further detail and that I'm not addressing the issues with enough length. Those never fail to make me laugh.

Back to the spam posts, I wonder a lot about the poor sods who are enlisted to hit blogs with what they have to know is a futile task. I think a few of them amuse themselves by writing complete gobbdlegook because a few of the spambots just seem like a cat sat on the keyboard. Honestly, I almost feel badly for them at times. Yes, I know that makes me weird. :)

Carol said...

I'm such a ditz that I thought I had to google SEO - until I paid attention to your first photo. :S

Vanessa said...

Hi olenska,

Too funny! I seem to recall that you have had your fair share of 'interesting spam' down the years - I think you may have done your own post on that topic indeed, if my memory serves me. Hopefully you are troubled by the stuff less now that you have withdrawn from the front line! :-)

Vanessa said...

Hi Bryan,

If they don't, they jolly well should. It is jargon central with an acronym frenzy!

Vanessa said...

Hi Kafka,

Your posts need further detail? That is as wide of the mark as thinking I am involved in saddlery, hehe... Indeed it may be too much hanging out on your blog that made me stretch the definition of "mini-review" so flagrantly the other day. : - )

"Cat sat on the keyboard" is about the size of it. Indeed some cats might come up with more coherent copy. My money is on Rusty and Zelda being well up to the task!

Vanessa said...

Hi Carol,

Yes, that photo was indeed a clue, or so I hoped! : - )

Suzanne said...

"Pandas and penguins are endearing creatures and I like the thought of their complaints being promptly attended to."

<3 <3

You're a riot, Vanessa. And considering that you have been featured in The Daily Telegraph at least twice, I'd say you don't have a thing to worry about. (Not that you would worry ... I know you don't have time to fret, what with the daily care that is involved in sorting out all those saddlery items). :)

Undina said...

Thank you, dear Vanessa, for both a laugh I got from reading your post and your confidence in Rusty's abilities :) (speaking of which, once he managed to lodge his tushie on my laptop's keyboard in sucha way that he managed to rotate the window 90 degrees. It was an ordeal to type a search in this position to find a combination to turn it back ;))

A separate thank you to Kafka :)

I also get those messages. I smile because I do NOT want more traffic. Since I'm not selling anything and do not even use banners, etc. I do not want to be in the top search results for all those thousands of people who are looking for a giveaway (that's why I never put it into the subject even when I have those and do not try to promote them - unless I'm trying to promote the brand).

Vanessa said...

Hi Suzanne,

Well, you might think that, and thanks for saying so, but according to one of these SEO companies, I still have a number of key issues to address:

"HTML and other on-page errors are present on your website.

Low number of internal and external quality links present on your website.

Need to update fresh contents on your website as per the latest Google guideline.

Social media profile needs to be updated regularly."

It's going to be a long haul to fix all this I sense, especially as Facebook thinks my few blog update posts are spam already. And as you say, I am much occupied just now with organising my growing collection of saddlery items...

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

I love that story about Rusty. He has an impressively luxuriant tush, and I can imagine it being capable of wreaking all manner of havoc, IT-related and otherwise.

That's interesting about your deliberately omitting the term "giveaway" in your title unless it suits your purpose to do so. I definitely have a motley collection of titles that fly in the face of received SEO wisdom, and which may go some way towards explaining why people land on Bonkers through such unusual search term routes...

Ines said...


Well, what does it say about my blog, I don't even get emails like that, it's so well hidden. ;)

I am aware of all the tactics you mentioned about making one's blog more known, but that's not why I'm writing it, so I don't really care. Plus, I'm lazy like that. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

Your blog is far from well hidden - it was one of the first I discovered when I got bitten by the bug. I gather Wordpress has good spam filters - that'll be it, more like.

I am pretty lazy too in terms of all the SEO tactics. I don't have any aspirations to make Bonkers *very* widely known - it is never going to appeal to a broad audience given the daft stuff I put on here! - but I like the thought that there are at least *some* people out there being entertained. I do write it for an audience, though. If I was just writing for myself, I'd keep a diary, the way I used to when I was a kid, and stick it in a drawer. So to a degree any blogger must want to be read by somebody other than themselves, though not necessarily by lots of people. So we are probably similar on that score.

Apart from anything else, blogging is incredibly time consuming. To justify that commitment, you have to feel there is somebody out there "consuming" your content! : - )

Ines said...

You're right, we do write for an audience, but I don't need it to be for many people.
I think that's probably because I don't like being the center of attention and attracting a large crowd.

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

I think we are on the same 'web page' then in terms of our ambitions for our blogs.

Ines said...

:D ;)

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SEO Services India said...

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Vanessa said...

I rest my case!

Ines said...


Vanessa said...

: - ) back atcha!