Three things hit me today that made me ask myself, "Why bother then?"
The first is the incredible news from the US (where I'm from) about the so-called anti-spam Bill signed yesterday by President George Bush. Called the "Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act" (CAN-SPAM), it's nothing more than nonsense that won't decrease the amount of spam email in my in-box. Says an article from Silicon Valley.com:
"(It) imposes an opt-out standard instead of an opt-in requirement, which gives businesses the right to send unsolicited marketing e-mails until you opt out. It also allows businesses to broadcast as much spam as they like - as long as the messages are obviously advertisements with a valid U.S. postal address or P.O. box. David Sorkin, an associate professor at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago and an expert on spam laws, said the bill will do nothing to block junk e-mail and could increase it."
When I read further, I come to understand why Nigerian spam won't cease, I'll still have to mess around with email filters and now, in addition to deleting email, I must now take even more time to opt-out.
Why bother to get excited over this?
The next "Why Bother Then" mind-feed came in the form of data released by Jupiter Research, in a Businesswire write-up called Jupiter Research Reports That One in Seven Consumer-Facing Web Sites Has an Error on Their Home Page Severe Enough to Cause Visitor Defection The fact is, most companies push usability issues and/or Quality Assurance testing underneath the rug. Rather, they'll spend enormous chunks of money to send people to SEO conferences, pay for keywords and PPC campaigns, pay employees to record website traffic and write nice ROI reports for Department Heads and hire SEO's to perform rank miracles.
Yet, they won't bother to use link checkers or do performance testing of their web pages.
Why bother to worry about algorithms when meanwhile your website visitor arrives at a dysfunctional homepage?
An even more shocking "Why Bother" moment hit me after reading something Barry pointed out in his wonderfully informative coverage of the Chicago SEO conference. He wrote:
"How many people and resources does each search engine put towards spam reports? All but Yahoo! said they did not have any specific team or individuals responsible for spam. Yahoo! said they have 3 full time engineers who handle spam and send your spam reports to either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Google said they will rarely (almost never) block or ban a specific page or site, they said they will look at the spam and build into their algorithm to filter out those types of sites. Teoma basically came out and said that they do not have spam based on their unique method of ranking site."
This is news to me! I've seen many SEO's state in their newsletters and forums that search engines are interested in knowing who is spamming their indexes. I've seen debates in forums over whether it's considered ethical to be "Spam Police". Google even provides this form for you to report web page violations you might find. They state:
"If your Google search returns a result that you suspect is spam, please let us know using this form. We investigate each report of deceptive practices thoroughly and take appropriate action when abuse is uncovered. At minimum, we will use the data from each spam report to improve our site ranking and filtering algorithms. The result of this should be visible over time as the quality of our searches gets even better. In especially egregious cases, we will remove spammers from our index immediately, so they do not show up in search results at all. Other steps will be taken as necessary."
So, why bother if they don't really take any action and this is just blowing smoke up our you-know-whatzits?