Search engine optimization is one of those weird, nichey industries that’s hard for outsiders to understand. Hell, with Google changing the rulebook every week, it’s hard for us insiders to understand most of the time.  The industry’s opacity naturally leads to a lot of misconceptions. Half the world sees SEO as some kind of voodoo, a third see it as a scam full of snakeoil salesmen, and the rest think it has something to do with keywords tags and directory submissions.

Which is why for SEOs, business development feels a little bit like a carnival sometimes.

In the real world, we usually don’t get the opportunity to respond to ridiculous requests with what we’re really thinking. But we do have thoughts, and when the particularly wayward comment comes in, they usually goes something like this:

ridiculous SEO questions

Example A: it could be sperm

Our dear and fearless leader Gabriella has been slogging through the trenches of link disavowal lately, and she got this delightful little gem in response to one of her emails:

Dear Sannino, while we regret the inconveniences the under mentioned link is creating for your client we are please to our organization is not responsible for the link thereof you sent to us.
It could be sperm
Regards

Could it? Could it really?

I don’t think this one needs a reaction GIF. I’m just going to let it marinate instead.

What this site’s author is failing to understand, unfortunately, is that if they don’t remove the link, they’ll go in the disavowal spreadsheet that gets sent to Google, and they’ll get recorded as having bad links. Sperm or no sperm, it would be in this site’s best interest to go ahead and take down the link.

Example B: YOU CAN HAZ SEO!!

I get these all the time, and I have to say, I find them terribly annoying.

I am Jiya, Online SEO Consultant.
As per the trends in your industry – over 80% of people search for your products/services online and buy the same. These rankings also influence other channels of sales as well
It would be recommended if you go for search engine optimization (SEO) for your site which would increase your web visibility and generate better prospects traffic to your website.
Ethical SEO -> Better Traffic ->Higher Sales.
Just wondering, if you would be interested improving the position of your website for the key terms your clients would be using to search your services.

Orly? People are searching for my SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION services ONLINE?? Tell me more!

don't pitch SEO services to an SEO, dummy

#Protip: if you’re targeting people who need SEO services, it’s probably best to steer clear of people who say they provide SEO services RIGHT ON THEIR WEBSITE.

Example C: I want 100 directory submissions per month! Can you do it for $X?

This is another real life RFQ from Gabriella’s giggle file:

100 directory submissions each month
50 Social bookmarks each month
2 articles per month
1 hyperlink press release each month
Each press release will be submitted to an additional 25 PR distribution websites

Please advise your monthly fee.

just say no to bulk directory linkbuilding

First of all, building that many directory listings that quickly is going to get you smacked by Google faster than your mom smacks you when you use the c-word. Second, 2009 called, and it wants its social bookmarking strategy back. The other items aren’t so bad – well, with the exception of all the spammy PR marketing – but the real issue here is that this is a backwards strategy. It’s a non-strategy. SEO isn’t about hitting quotas for certain types of links. It’s about building your brand authority.

Example D: Just send me your boilerplate SEO proposal.

This is the kind of request that comes from a business owner or marketing manager who is probably brilliant in their particular field, but knows nothing about how marketing in the digital space works. It’s usually an honest mistake, and I feel kind of bad when I have to tell the client that asking for a boilerplate SEO proposal is like asking for the stamp snowflakes are cut out of.

there's no such thing as a boilerplate SEO proposal

Just like offline advertising and marketing, digital marketing – which includes SEO – requires brainpower, data and creative strategy. I can’t tell you what I can do for you unless I know what you need.

Example E: Naw, we don’t need ongoing – just build us a template we can customize with new keywords!

So, you want to be able to “re-optimize” your website whenever you want by just “tweaking” the keywords, huh?

there's no template for SEO

First of all, let’s be clear that we’re not even going to talk about meta keywords tags, because they’re obsolete. Yes, they are.

Second, “tweaking” the keywords on your website isn’t going to do anything other than make it harder for you to rank consistently for certain terms. Your core products and services remain the same, and if you add new ones, then you should be adding new content for them, not cannibalizing another page’s rankings.

If you’re an SEO, what’s your favorite giggle-worthy request? If you’re not, what do you wish you understood better?