Every Rich Jerk Sells Snake Oil

Shoemoney pointed out that the Rick Jerk website is for sale, alleging that the sale is required to avoid bankruptcy. Was the Rich Jerk just a marketing scheme?

I have been seeing numerous others claiming the selling of snake oil recently. Dr Garcia flamed a whole slew of honest SEOs because we incorrectly refer to semantics as latent semantic stuff or call tools that show word co-occurrence as LSI like:

In an effort to save face and avoid litigation from consumers, some of these purveyors of falsehood as other crooks and their friends play with words and call theirs "LSI-like", "LSI-based", "LSI-driven" technology or use similar snaky phrases.

Odds are most of the people using words like LSI-like probably mistakenly referred to co-occurrence stuff as though it was LSI. To an SEO it really doesn't matter if search engines use LSI or something that acts similar...we only need to understand roughly what it takes to rank.

And I am fairly certain Dr Garcia was flamed in the past in SEO forums....I think it was in Cre8asite forums a few years back by an SEO who has been a big name since 1999.

Today Michael Arrington referred to domainers in a negative light

This is actually one of the cleaner scams occurring in the extremely dirty domain name business.

On that same post Frank Schilling dropped by to offer a comment

I agree with a few others here Michael. You make yourself look foolish when you unfairly and inequitably malign an entire industry because of the actions of some.

A few short years ago you made your living in the dirty domain industry. While I understand that your employment tenure in the industry may have shown some unsavory facets and your exit from the Canadian company you worked for may not have been to your satisfaction, calling the entire industry ‘dirty’ makes you no friends and garners you no respect by those trying to shape it in a positive way.

I look at all the worthless bags of smoke that you pump on this forum, all the investors you sell down the river in these Web 2.0 jokes. Who’s dirty Michael?

I do think much of the conflict between various web personalities is ego and envy driven, but I also think it is just a reflection of the business world as a whole.

Today a friend of mine explained that he thought it was dirty that in a game of basketball that if a ball goes out of bounds that both players will point at each other even if they know it was out on them. Business (offline or online) is the same way. Everyone spins for distribution and authority. Just look at how spammy and full of false promises many of the headlines are in some mainstream media outlets. How are we going to drum up support, gain a fan base, and further our industries if we are not evangelical about them? How can we steal marketshare from Google if we don't promise to know what people are thinking?

What makes the web seem so dirty at times?

  • It is unfiltered by corporate communications policies.

  • Language without body language is not as clear as some would like to believe.
  • Messages spread so quickly.
  • Everyone has a platform to spread their message.

Nobody knows what the web will become, but everyone is vying for attention hoping to stay relevant for another day. Some are better positioned than others, but everyone is selling.

Published: May 23, 2007 by Aaron Wall in marketing


May 23, 2007 - 2:47pm

I think you've answered your own question to an extent, Aaron:

Nothing succeeds like controversy and insults are the quickest way to create a scandal.

Cornwall SEO
May 23, 2007 - 3:05pm

What is snake oil anyway? Is it oil from the snake you rub on your skin to stop the black death or is it something you rub onto the snake.

Etymologists save me the 120 secs it will take to find out.

I thought the Rich Jerk was such a brilliant concept.

May 23, 2007 - 3:07pm

This is I think the series that kicked off buzz about keyword co-occurrence/semantic connectivity with SEO's:


May 23, 2007 - 4:07pm


ethical (white hat) LSI-based SEO.

May 23, 2007 - 7:45pm

Hi Patrick
But the people mentioned in the article and the guy in that forum were two different groups of people.

May 23, 2007 - 11:08pm

>I also think it is just a reflection of the business world as a whole.

It's a shame. It doesn't have to be this way.

It's easy to understand that when people feel threatened or unsure of themselves and fear they may be wrong, or worse found to be only what they are instead of what they pretend to be, that they resort to justifying their own actions by convincing themselves that "THEY" do it too.

It is also easy to understand that it is only natural to defend oneself when one feels slighted. That often being as shallow and mean-spirited as you feel the person was who did the slighting to you first. This of course creates an ever-quickening downward spiral.

It doesn't have to be this way.

There is a lot to be gained by taking the high road. By not making allegations without first hand evidence and by showing the respect you would like to see yourself shown.

There is reward in turning the other cheek. In giving the benefit of the doubt and in focusing more on what you say and do than on what others say and do.

The Internet Golden Rules really does work. It really does improve your image and makes for a better environment all the way around. Especially as the low road becomes crowded in a faster and faster race to the finish.

Do you want to stand out from the crowd? Do you want to be noticed? To you want to be known for more than being good at being an internet bitch? Then dare to be different. Dare to be better.

Don't retaliate. Offer to educate.

Try to couple your opinion with historical reference to help illuminate your own motivations.

Remember actions speak louder than words. Let them have the last word as long as you have the best say.

Try to understand their motivations for why they feel like they do and then offer alternatives.

Respect comes to you from showing respect for others.

You can't make all people respect you but you don't have to acknowledge or deal with those who don't.

Try to elevate those around you but don't let those whom you can't pull you down.

Or just keep being a bitch. It can be fun. But remember that every word you type is being recorded in the Way Back Machine. It' ain't like you can take it back once it's out there.

>I also think it is just a reflection of the business world as a whole.<

My apologies Aaron, you KNOW how much I respect your opinion, but this part I disagree with. I believe business is what it has always been and what it always will be. Motivated by profit and it rarely profits them to target individuals in a way that they can't expect to control.

I think this phenomena is more related to the part above about individuals fearing that the world will find out they are not actually multi-national corporations. Instead they are just some guy who is making pretty good money at the time from something that is so new no one is really sure exactly what it even is.

That is scary. Especially after you have shot your mouth off a few times about what a good business person you are but deep down, you may know that you're no more than one Google update away from having that which makes you want to brag in the first place all of a sudden and without recourse taken away.

With Google recently pulling the plug on SOME MFA's, I predict this will get even worse. There goes an entire industry right down the crapper.

It doesn't have to be this way.

Oh yeah, the Internet Golden Rule is
The more you give the more you get.

Nate Moller
May 23, 2007 - 11:58pm

Everyone is a salesman in some way.


Selling snake oil may be questionable but all businesses, ethical and scam, are selling. I really like what you said about the basketball idea - no matter how guilty a player is, no matter how hard they hacked the other guy, they're always going to complain about it. They're never satisfied with the referee's call. So it is with business - someone is always the "victim" of a scam, most likely because they didn't do what they needed to to make it work. I could easily say that one of my competitors is a scam and hope that it would get me more business (I think ripoffreport.com does this as a business strategy).

Everyone has to sell though; whether it's your product or service or an idea, you're selling something. I often question people that say they're not salesman - if they really thought about it, they are selling the fact that the don't like selling. Interesting post.

David Novakovic
June 4, 2007 - 7:20am

"To an SEO it really doesn't matter if search engines use LSI or something that acts similar...we only need to understand roughly what it takes to rank."

Thats akin to advertising a car with airbags when really all it has are crumple zones. it should matter what terminology you use, especially when its a source of revenue. Ignorance is the same as Lies when you don't make the effort to understand your own marketing spin, it just takes less work to do.

Dr Garcia has one of the best resources about what LSI actually is. Not only that, he actually is making the effort to make it easy to understand. You should read the content on his pages.

May 24, 2007 - 12:27am

I have a question about your Competition Finder tool. It utilizes soap API, which you can no longer get through Google. Does this tool still provide accurate results with old soap APIs? Is there a way to get a new API that it will work with?

Michael Duz
June 4, 2007 - 10:12am

LSI is just like long division, percentages, differentiation, integration, non-Euclidean Geometry etc. You either understand the concept or you don't.

If people talk in public about concepts they don't understand, then it is hardly surprising that when they make mistakes they are corrected in public. It's also human nature that when caught with their pants down the excuse that it "doesn't matter" is more prevalent than "Sorry, I did not understand what I was talking about".

If "honest SEOs" have "mistakenly referred to co-occurrence stuff as though it was LSI" then at the very least it is legitimate to question their judgment.

Unfortunately there are many dishonest SEOs who sell "LSI" based services and Dr Garcia is quite correct to refer to them as snake oil salesman.

May 24, 2007 - 12:58am

Hi Stacey
I am not a programmer and can't tell you much of how to get the current Google API to work.

May 24, 2007 - 2:46am

Hi Aaron, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to mix up those 2 groups of people. When I read LSI-based SEO, it just made me think of that post a SGuild off the top of my head w/o having read the article thoroughly enough to see, you, SEW, Andy Hagans, etc.. were sort of made out to be crooks (here goes the negative reputation of the SEO field, again...).

May 24, 2007 - 4:15am

While its easy to be critical of the Rich Jerk, and trade him off to be the snake type. Some of the ideas he used in making his site popular are not doubt used by web marketers today. I definitely am not saying he's a cool guy, I despise the whole turn key system crap created by his brand of reseller sites. It hurts everyone when people fall for these systems and they fail. But the fact that everyone wants to believe, and everyone wants to make money online some how will always lead us back to some rich jerk that figured it out first. I started profitindex.org to sort through this, accidentally stumbled onto this site. Hope to read more enlightened material.

May 24, 2007 - 7:16am

Compared to most offline industries the domain name game probably is a little dirty. It's easy to cheat people when you don't have to talk to them or look at them eye to eye.

John K
May 24, 2007 - 6:03pm

BTW, the Kevin Ham article about the .CM system is one of the GREATEST internet marketing campaigns ever.

A great example of using the press for your own purposes - because he has a fantastic story to tell.

My proof: my *dad* just mentioned the .CM issue to me - he saw it on CNBC or something. In the space of a week, Kevin Ham has outed himself and gotten incredible exposure.

This is much more effective than Ron Paul, I think :)

Kevin MUST be doing this in a purposeful & planned way - since he spent year keeping everything very secret. It's a good way of introducing himself to the world. I think he's building credibility.

Franck Silvestre
May 25, 2007 - 12:15am

Oops, the man did make some mistakes..

nice guy -
July 22, 2007 - 2:53am

In a way, you are not helping when you use phrases like "I heard" reducing the perception of that other guy's business. why not iniclude some objective data like this site:


May 29, 2007 - 7:21pm

I hadn't even heard of the Rich Jerk until I did a search for Brad Callen trying to find a link to his newsletters. RJ had an Adwords ad that came up in the #1 position that said;

Gurus Suck
Don't buy anything from Brad Callen until you read this.

I don't know the history of RJ or how much credibility he has, but not only did I think this was unprofessional to take stabs at competing SEO professionals, but also a violation of Google policy. I've never met Brad, but at least he hasn't succumbed to these tactics. It's a karma thing.

Bill Slawski
June 2, 2007 - 9:07pm

And I am fairly certain Dr Garcia was flamed in the past in SEO forums....I think it was in Cre8asite forums a few years back by an SEO who has been a big name since 1999.

That might have happened somewhere else, Aaron. I'm pretty sure that it didn't happen at Cre8asite. Dr. Garcia is pretty well respected and appreciated within the forum. See this thread, for example:


June 3, 2007 - 7:05am

Hi Bill
here is the thread where Dr. Garcia's research was questioned as being questionable.

June 3, 2007 - 3:57pm

Thanks, Aaron.

That one had indeed slipped away from my memory. Reading your post, I had envisioned a thread that Dr. Garcia may have actually participated in at the forums, and I couldn't recall him appearing prior to June, 2005 when I invited him to discuss a Yahoo patent application that covered the use of a unit or concept based indexing method that involved co-ocurrence.

There are firms that are selling services based upon their "mastery" of "LSA" and "LSI" and it can be misleading. I agree that many of the folks referring to stuff as "LSI -like" aren't doing so with the intent of deceiving or harming anyone. I do think that it would benefit us not to use the phrase.

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