“He wanna play a riff to the man with the wires
He wanna play lead but his hand’s getting tired
He just wanna play but don’t know how to say, stop!”…Mott The Hoople ‘Marionette’

I got into SEO in the Year 2000. AdWords didn’t exist yet.

What I liked most about SEO was how cool it was to manipulate stuff on your page/site and have it immediately show up ranking well in the search engine results. My earliest tactics could be construed as very crude black hat SEO.

Ultimately, these techniques became quite profitable as I got some very nice affiliate payouts for these “crap” pages. However, the search engines caught up to me and swept these results (deservedly) from their index.

Eventually, on-page factors became less important in favor of link factors, and it became pretty obvious that reciprocal link exchanges could push some nice search engine rankings. So I got deep into them, and they worked…for a while.

The search engines caught up to these techniques, too, and many sites I worked on got shot down.

With my limited level of technical expertise, I realized I could no longer trick or manipulate the search engines to do my bidding. If I were to continue and succeed at SEO, it would have to be of the White Hat SEO variety.

While I found White Hat SEO interesting in theory, I never found doing it to be all that enjoyable.

So, I switched over to Paid Search.

You see, ethical Paid Search still shares a number of characteristics from “Early” SEO.  The nexus between actions and results is much closer and much more immediate for Paid Search. At its core, Paid Search is a shrewdly manipulative art.

For example, the purpose of choosing paid keywords is to only bring a certain class of visitors to your site, excluding all others.

The purpose of ad text creation is to smartly manipulate a visitor into clicking your ad.

The purpose of keyword bidding is to place a precise value on the visitors you desire, controlling and regulating website traffic flow.

The purpose of landing page optimization is to not only cajole visitors into performing the action you desire but to give them a landing environment solely contrived to suit your aims and purposes.

The playing field in Paid Search is much more level than in SEO; anyone with a budget can not only compete, but be competitive within hours of placing their campaign live.

By contrast, with SEO, you have far less control over the volume and type of website visitors, as well as the conversion paths they might or might not take. It can take a long time and a lot of work to be competitive in natural search (and frequently, it’s either impossible or cost-prohibitive to compete).

I’m not one of those paid search people who puts down SEO in any way, shape, or form. The impact of a well-run SEO campaign is phenomenal and incredibly valuable.

However, for me, SEO ceased to be fun a long time ago.

Todd Mintz, Senior SEM Manager


  1. TheGodof Seo March 5th, 2012

    That's because everyone lied about SEO. They forgot to say that blackhat doesn't exist. Matter of fact, white hat doesn't exist. Only results exist. Sorry to hear about another one leaving the field.

  2. Alastair McDermott March 5th, 2012

    Interesting perspective. As a techie – ex-mainframe assembler & UNIX systems coder – the geeky side of SEO is the fun part for me. I like the way it's almost completely open-ended, and there are so many different factors requiring often quite detailed expertise in almost completely unrelated technologies.

    The part of SEO that I don't like personally is the sales pitch, which can sound something like this to a client:

    "We want you to pay $largeAmount and we will do X, Y and Z, which will probably help increase your rankings, but we can't make any guarantee about results or timing".

    I know there's a lot of good ways to communicate the message far better than that – ou can point to previous results, offer money-back rather than positional guarantees, etc, but at the end of the day that's the basic message and if the clients aren't experienced with SEO it's a tough sell – educating the client is a big part of the pitch.

  3. Aaron Alexander March 5th, 2012

    I see them (SEO/PPC/Social Media etc ) as unique tools for specific goals. I’m pretty sure unless this article is a landing page for your “PPC Consultant” adsense campaign, it is for “organic growth” in search engines. SEO overall is just another color for the marketing artists canvas. It can be used correctly and incorrectly, like the various knives in a chef set. You do make accurate assertions on the intent of marketing and in these days…highly targeted marketing. Well done Todd.

  4. David Rodnitzky March 5th, 2012

    Great post Sean. What really bugs me about SEO is that what is white hat today is black hat tomorrow. You can do everything you can for a client and try to stay above board, and then the search engines can declare your work "spam" in seconds. SEM is – for the most part – much more black and white.

  5. David Rodnitzky March 5th, 2012

    Oops, meant to say, great post "Todd"!

  6. Alastair McDermott March 7th, 2012

    Y'all should take a look at your title tag settings, coming up a bit funky:

    <title>Why I Quit SEO | | | PPC Associates Blog| PPC Associates Blog</title>.

    Fix: reset your theme's title tag back to <title><? php wp_title();?></title> in http://www.ppcassociates.com/blog/wp-content/themes/twentyten/header.php.

    If you are running multiple SEO plugins, disable all but one.

    I'm sure you've got it covered, but if you do need help give me a shout.

  7. admin March 7th, 2012

    Thanks, Alistair! I think we fixed it, but if you see it cropping up again, please holler. Much appreciated…

  8. beth March 9th, 2012

    In my opinion, PPC and SEO are two completely different animals and are utilized by different people/businesses with different goals in mind. If you are working independently then you may not have the funds to support a decent PPC campaign. For those that are just looking to start a business online, many fall in this category. I think as one gets more experienced in building sites and knowing what keywords are best, they may want to streamline the process and just go for the immediate results of a PPC campaign. I think your points are definitely valid, but just not for everyone.

  9. Anonymous December 8th, 2013

    SEO methods and techniques don’t remain same always because many new updates has been added in its strategies and methods due to the release of google updates of panda , penguin and humming bird.Rather than being disappointed, it’s better to step forward and learn something new in this SEO field.

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Todd Mintz
Todd Mintz, who has been with 3Q Digital since March 2011, has worked in search engine marketing since 2000 and has used Google AdWords since it began. He also is very visible in the SEM social media space and is a curator/contributor at MarketingLand. He was one of the founding members of SEMpdx (Portland’s Search Engine Marketing Group), is a current board member, and writes regularly on their blog.