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Like Graffiti in Detroit: SEO Has a Spam Problem

Let’s be straight about one thing: I’ve seen some incredibly beautiful, even moving graffiti in my time in Detroit — but that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. Graffiti is one of those art forms that has far too many practitioners and far too few masters, and pretty much by definition it’s unwanted.

Hey, does that sound like something familiar? Maybe something you have in your inbox right now? That’s right: there’s graffiti in Detroit, and SEO has spam. We all know and hate spam, but few of us realize how much of a problem it is. According to Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing Blog:

  • Spam costs American consumers and firms nearly $20 billion each year.
  • 43% of adults in the U.S. said that more than half of their emails are from marketers.

  • 3.5 billion tweets posted to Twitter every day are spam.
  • 8% of social media posts are spam.
  • 87 billion spam emails were sent out every day in Q3 of 2012
  • Spam averaged 74% of all emails sent during Q3 of 2012.
  • 69% of those who are texters say they get unwanted spam or text messages. Of those texters, 25% face problems with spam/unwanted texts at least weekly.

Standing Up And Standing Out
So what do we as SEO people have to do about the spam problem? Two things: stop creating and sending out spam, and tell our peers to do the same. I’m here to officially acknowledge my support of HubSpot’s “Make Love, Not Spam” campaign and encourage all of you SEO types to do the same.

I’d like to encourage all of you to examine not just what you personally are adding to the spamsophere, but what your contractors, employees, freelancers, minions, and underlings are as well. If there is a communication that has your brand on it, you should already have editorial control over it’s content — and if you see that it looks like spam, you should send it back for a redux.

Detroit’s graffiti problem costs the city millions of dollars every year — spam costs the US apparently almost twenty billion. But unlike graffiti, which is done for thrills or for the sake of art itself, spam has a much more venal cause: it’s all about the Benjamins. Baby. But just like Google cracked down on spammy practices first with Panda and then with Penguin, the market itself is shifting. People are getting more inured to spam — they have to, look at those stats again!

Spam won’t ever die. It may change mediums, just as the amount of physical junk mail has lagged a bit since the Internet took over our lives, but it will always be out there. The best we can do as businesses and as individuals is not fall for it and not produce it. Join me, won’t you?

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