Fox News Blasts SEO

Fox News slammed SEO without even understanding what SEO is. On this slide from their Top Online Marketing Jobs to Leave You Friendless they cover SEO, and they do it with a typically Faux News sub-par form

Ever wonder why "nonsense" Web sites sometimes turn up in your search results on Google or Yahoo? That’s because search engine optimizing scammers work full-time to create thousands of other Web sites that link to the spam site. For example, the creator of is hoping to dupe would-be visitors to, a legitimate site that bills itself as an online security resource.

What is so idiotic about their example is it is a domain lander page, not even a site that has had any SEO practices done to it. Worse yet, the site consists of nothing but an ad feed from one of the search engines, so if that site is spam then so must be the search ads.

If you ever thought Fox News was real reporting then your political ideology trumps logic.

How is a slimy reporter who pushes fake news any more respectable than a marketer? The latter generally makes no claim to be unbiased, while the former prides themselves on lying through their teeth.

Worse yet, Fox has had an in-house SEO team for nearly as long as I have been in the SEO business, which is just one more layer demonstrating how shallow and worthless most of their reporting is. Faux News - worse than you thought!

I was just looking at the Fox News site (for literally 15 second) and guess what ad I saw? Yup the scammy reverse billing fraud fakevertising ads.

Who again is littering the web with scams Fox News? You are.

Update: Danny Sullivan did a follow up on this story. It turns out Fox News is using XML Sitemaps, robots.txt, meta description tags (which are all SEO tools). Further they are selling sitewide links that flow PageRank to advertiser websites. So if Fox News thinks SEO is a scam then they must hold themselves in low regard.

It would be nice to see Google ban Fox News for selling links, but they won't because...

  • Fox News is a big brand (and, allegedly, brands are how you sort out the cesspool)
  • Rupert Murdock is trying to lead publishers to do a bit of a revolt against Google (and Google does not want to give him any ammunition)
  • Google likes it when mainstream publishers write ignorant + poorly researched drivel attacking SEO because it helps lower the perceived value of quality SEO services and helps set in a market for lemons effect
Published: August 18, 2009 by Aaron Wall in publishing & media


August 18, 2009 - 10:43pm

I'm no fan of Fox News but I won't blame a large organization for the ignorance of a news producer.

August 18, 2009 - 10:50pm

I tend to think that with Fox News the lies / distortions / hyperbole / misquotes / misinformation is systematic rather than a series of isolated accidental mistakes.

August 18, 2009 - 11:20pm

I have a (die hard liberal) family member working for Fox in Denver. And according to that person they wouldn't be surprised if the whole station closed the doors. Advertisers are picking up on the BS Fox allows to passed along as news, most recent example of Glenn Beck. But just like the Ted Haggard's of the world the house of cards will eventually come crashing in.

Thanks for the great post.


Tom McCracken
August 18, 2009 - 11:35pm

Good post, I bet this will turn into a political conversation/debate. =)

I think they should of just used the word "scammers" not "SEO scammers".

Would they not be considered "news scammers" for incorrect or misleading news?

August 18, 2009 - 11:48pm

"If you ever thought Fox News was real reporting then your political ideology trumps logic."

Actually, if you ever thought any of the TV News were real reporting then your political ideology trumps logic. They are all ridiculously inept - liberal and conservative alike.

August 19, 2009 - 12:01am

I've got to agree with mattmorr. No matter what your ideology, any close examination of the so called news reveals how inaccurate most stories are. Writers are under daily deadlines and they know the public likes provocative content. They don't bother checking the facts because a)they don't have time and b) they don't want the facts to diminish the impact of their story.

In the case of the example you cited, though Fox may well have an agenda, it's more likely they simply think this "news" item will resonate with their viewers. News outlets are businesses, and just like any business, they have to satisfy their customers if they want to continue to make money.

August 19, 2009 - 12:07am

Have you ever seen this wonderful reaction from the Dutch guy who got annoyed about Fox News reporting about Amsterdam, you can see the video over here:

I thought I would share for enjoyment.

August 19, 2009 - 12:46am

"Worse yet, Fox has had an in-house SEO team for nearly as long as I have been in the SEO business, which is just one more layer demonstrating how shallow and worthless most of their reporting is. Faux News - worse than you thought!"

Come on Aaron. The article is referring to SEO **scammers**. Not honest and legit SEOs. The fact that Fox has an SEO team means nothing about the integrity of their reporting.

August 19, 2009 - 1:18am

Well then they shouldn't have put the field of SEO as a whole on their list. It should have been some variation of it.

August 19, 2009 - 12:46am

Who cares about what Fox News says? They're not the point.

You brought up a really interesting point about how the general public is starting to view SEO. A few months ago my wife complained about how when she looks for products on Google, the top results look a bit spammy. It's kind of off putting. Since I started learning about SEO she was wondering how people could get away with that. Interestingly, when Bing came out a few weeks ago, she hypothesized that Microsoft is hiring people to "dirty" rankings on Google. Sounds funny but hey, it's possible!

Aaron, thought leaders like you should provide some insight on how SEO's can counter this kind of negative PR. I think you wrote a post along these lines, and it would be helpful to share your ideas here.

Online marketing attracts its fair share of scumbags and losers. So how can legitimate internet marketing and SEO professionals proactively counter these stereotypes?

Eagerly waiting for your response.


August 19, 2009 - 1:00am

Hey Aaron,

Great site but just to clarify, the in-house SEO team you mentioned was not affiliated with Fox News. I ran that team when I was with Fox Interactive Media and we only worked on SEO for the online properties that were part of the Fox Interactive Media division (MySpace, IGN, Fox Sports, etc..). was in a different division entirely (I believe Fox Broadcasting Company).



August 19, 2009 - 1:21am

Thanks for that comment Bill. Still doesn't change how inept their reporting is. :)

August 19, 2009 - 1:26am

so in regards to their reference to 'search engine optimization' and its references... that, my friend was funny.

Right on the same page they have zedo ads with the title as 'learn the trick'


Arnie Link Builder
August 19, 2009 - 1:29am

Aaron, thanks for posting this. I do think we need to point out to all that the news is not always a trusted source. Doesn't matter whether it is Fox, NBC or your local paper. They have to crank out content 24/7 and the do... good and bad.

Remi van Beekum
August 19, 2009 - 9:02am

Can anybody explain to me (someone from Europe) why Fox still exists and people even watch it?
I hear stories about Fox spreading rumours, telling lies, telling only one side of a story and so on every few weeks. Are the Americans really that stupid? Or is there something else going on?

August 20, 2009 - 4:54am

Quote: "Can anybody explain to me (someone from Europe) why Fox still exists and people even watch it? I hear stories about Fox spreading rumours, telling lies, telling only one side of a story and so on every few weeks. Are the Americans really that stupid? Or is there something else going on?"

Too funny.

A while back I walked a ways from NYC out to Long Island, with a traveler from Ireland. We passed through a dodgy section of Queens and a dive pub, where we stopped for a drink and bathroom break. It was a complete dump, full of rascals. As we walked away she commented that it appeared to have been that way for some time, and asked me why it is still there. Was there something special about it? She told me that where she was from, the people would have burned down a pub like that very quickly.

I guess we're just more civilized over here ;-)

August 19, 2009 - 12:40pm

But Fox (faux) News has a big brand, they MUST be good! Right? Right?

August 19, 2009 - 2:37pm

Does anyone really truly believe any news outlet doesn't push their own ideological agenda? Is there anyone who can say with a straight face that FOX, CNN, or MSNBC shoot straight and show no bias?

As for the ads example...lame.

Go here:

Seems CNN supports mothers who can make $63/hour online and part time jobs earning $88/hr "from only a computer"

And here:

MSNBC "promotes" two mothers who followed "1 rule" to losing massive weight...strange they both are named Rachel Ray....

And don't get me started on the "Hugh Downs Reports" ad running on ABC's homepage :-)

Who again is littering the web with scams CNN , ABC and MSNBC? You are :-)

August 19, 2009 - 2:40pm

This might be one of the worst journalistic articles I have ever read regarding SEO or FOX NEWS, and it doesn't even make sense to have on this particular site. After this post, I will be removing myself from all future email inquiries, not just from here, but your affiliate sites as well.

First of all this video is from 2006 and is compiled of dozens of 3 second clips. Really? DO I even have to say why this is stupid?

Secondly, the reporting in the quote you are discussing is accurate. I did some ACTUAL research showing that has over 100 pages in their index, so to say that NO SEO has been done is a lie... yet you resort to make FOX NEWS look like the bad guys? Seriously?

Thirdly, the domain name has been registered for more than 9 years and has had multiple sites and companies using it. According to the Way Back Machine, the site looked to be an automotive company running it around the time period of this video.

Why would an automotive company be running a site under the domain Sure sounds like spammers to me.

Fourthly, FOX NEWS is destroying every cable news network in existence. The fact that their ratings beat the other cable news networks rating combined just goes to show how lame your perception on reality is. Instead, this article sounds like an angry "I Hate FOX" broadcast that has virtually nothing to do with SEO.

What was the point?

Kevin Webb

August 19, 2009 - 3:39pm

First of all that video does not look much different than most of the hate bait Fox News programming. And it was no more distorting or damaging to their brand than their poorly researched hack job of an article was toward the SEO community.

If they don't want to look ignorant they can start by getting a clue. Screw them.

Secondly If you look at a cache text version of the homepage of you will see that no practical SEO has been done. It is nothing more than an auto-generated site...and not one that is currently being actively heavily promoted. Why feature a site as an SEO play when it does not even rank in the search results? You have to go to page 3 of Google's search results to find it for [spamlaw] and on page 7 for [spam law] ... both of which would be ***AMAZINGLY*** poor rankings for a site that is allegedly optimized.

Thirdly the ignorant article bashing SEO was just recently published (2 days ago). Above you claimed the video was irrelevant and now it is somehow relevant? Please.

I understand your ideological need to try to make Fox News look less ignorant than they are...but it doesn't match reality.

Fourthly Popularity does not = quality. If you look through the archives of this site you will see that I have done extensive media analysis and have often stated marketing tips along the lines of being exceptionally biased is an easy way to build a following.

The point of the post was that Fox News promotes scams on their website (fact) while claiming to be fair and balanced (fact) while being extraordinarily biased (fact) and publishes ignorant distortions about topics they know nothing about (fact).

People who claim that media manipulation is bad and then use their media channel to lie, cheat, steal, and misinform are the lowest of the low. They deserve no respect. Which they earned once more.

August 19, 2009 - 2:47pm

I just read everything and watched the video again. I'm still really confused as to why this video is posted on an SEO website?

Any amateur could make a short video like this in regards to every cable news and non-news station out there. If I wanted to bad enough, I could snip clips and make Barney say he wanted to destroy America and punch kids in the face.

This site has completely discredited itself for letting this even be posted.

August 19, 2009 - 2:49pm


Did someone switch out videos because there's no mention of SEO anywhere?


August 19, 2009 - 3:42pm

It was this presumptuous line that made me include that video "That’s because search engine optimizing scammers"

For them to call SEOs scammers it means they must believe in some sort of pure / untainted media. Thus highlighting how tainted their media is shows how bogus their claim of moral superiority is...particularly as their sites are wrapped in ads selling various flavors of reverse bill fraud.

August 19, 2009 - 2:56pm

Aaron, I thought I was just losing my mind... the video makes no sense to be on here.

August 19, 2009 - 3:46pm


I get that. I'm saying that when I watched the video, there was zero mention of SEO or Scammers. It's a montage of video clips just bashing Fox News. Don't get me wrong, I'm fine with bashing Fox News, CNN, and just about any other mainstream news outlet.

I'm thinking someone swapped out videos midstream.

August 19, 2009 - 3:50pm

I wrote this above...worth mentioning again though: It was this presumptuous line that made me include that video "That’s because search engine optimizing scammers"

For them to call SEOs scammers it means they must believe in some sort of pure / untainted media. Thus highlighting how tainted their media is shows how bogus their claim of moral superiority is...particularly as their sites are wrapped in ads selling various flavors of reverse bill fraud.

If ignorant clueless & hypocritical scumbags crap on my industry for self promotion then I will highlight them for being what they are. Why should I work so hard as an SEO and then let the sleazy folks working at Fox try to brand me as being on their level? No thanks.

August 19, 2009 - 4:12pm

I think the most troubling part of this whole situation is the inability for Fox News to provide an outlet for SEOs (or anyone for that matter) to respond. Fair and balanced journalism is all about providing voice to both sides, yet I do not see any ability for one to comment on those slides - there's only a "Share This" option. Tisk, tisk.

August 19, 2009 - 4:47pm

Maybe they don't want to lose the link juice :)

August 19, 2009 - 4:59pm

Aaron, you are completely ignorant.

You used a 6 word snippet from an anchor as a bases for trying to discredit them? Really?

What if she was quoting somebody else? What if she said "That’s because search engine optimizing scammers, report that they work from home and for clients they never meet?"

The possibillities are endless, but for you to write such CRAP over a snippet like that is just dumb.

THE FACT is that there are SEO scammers/spammers out there who use black hat techniques to try and manipulate rankings and sometimes they even go as far as hijacking other company's brands.

Why is that such a hard concept for you to grasp?

I think you're just making crap up now. Nothing you say makes sense.

August 20, 2009 - 2:06am

A news scammer/spammer who uses their media channel to lie and distort (and then wrap it in ads for reverse billing fraud scams) is no better than the worst of the spammers. And THAT was my point. Why is that such a hard concept for you to grasp?

What I say doesn't make sense to you due to your limited understanding of linguistics and marketing. I can't force you to be knowledgeable...especially when you chose to ignore truth.

August 19, 2009 - 6:01pm


Hehehe. Yes, because Fox News is so concerned about link juice. :-)

How long have you been a member of SEO Book? What is your level of expertise in SEO? Please share :-)

August 20, 2009 - 2:07am

Kevin has been a member of the site for less than 12 hours total now. And his first post was over 11 hours ago :)

August 19, 2009 - 6:15pm

Thanks for posting about this Aaron - I wanted to but didn't have the time this week. Glad to see someone taking them to task; that kind of reporting shouldn't be called "news."

August 19, 2009 - 6:43pm

Here is a great video explaining how Fox News operates. It is a bit long (7 minutes) but you can just watch the last three minutes to see the meat of the discussion.

Obviously this would not convince people like Kevin Webb, but it is certainly an interesting perspective.

August 20, 2009 - 5:17am

Haven't we been called spammers for years? I'm with Kevin on this one.

August 20, 2009 - 7:14am

If people talk trash, lie, and misinform consumers about a topic often enough then they destroy some of the perceived value of that field.

Maybe you don't work as hard as I do and maybe you don't help out as many people as I do. But I work way too hard to just not care when a bunch of sleazeballs trash my trade by pumping biased misinformation through a megaphone.

August 20, 2009 - 10:42am

the landing pages made by "professional money makers", has so little to do with Seo that looks like a fraudolent attempt to play on the ignorant side of the poor tv watcher

August 20, 2009 - 5:53pm

Great post. For years no one knew what I did or that SEO was a real profession. And many of those people are now getting their initial impression of SEO via an outlet that quickly uses "SEO" and "scammers" in the same breath. You know what they say about first impressions....

Maybe I'm old school, but news, no matter what the source, doesn't name call or insinuate moral superiority - otherwise, it's just opinion, not news.

August 20, 2009 - 6:54pm

Loving the discussion!

@AaronWall I noticed he wasn't a member for long, which made me wonder whether or not he was one of those angry TV watchers made dangerous by "just enough information" on SEO. Granted, it was bad information, but still, it sparked a debate not only about the nature of SEO, but also journalism ethics and credibility. :-)

@Slimster I totally agree with your last line:

"Maybe I'm old school, but news, no matter what the source, doesn't name call or insinuate moral superiority - otherwise, it's just opinion, not news."

August 21, 2009 - 7:11am

Aaron you are completely flipping out here. I respect your SEO views. It would probably be a good idea if you stay with them instead of venting your leftist anger towards a news network that dares not to tow the liberal line.

KevinWebb is right, this is a teeny, tiny snip of words that could be disparaging to SEO professionals, depending on how you read it. It probably could have been better worded, but your response frames you as someone in the extreme left fringe - a 9/11'er perhaps.

Oh, and yes, I've been a member for only a few minutes...and that's relevant because? Just stick with SEO Aaron - everyone will like you more and you'll appear much smarter.

August 21, 2009 - 11:03am

Why is length of membership important? The people who sign up only to comment on this post were never going to be paying customers anyhow, so their opinion is worth $0 (or, often, less).

Just because I am not an idiot who buys into thought control and garbage media does not make me a leftist hack in the way that Fox News is a group of right winged ideological hacks.

I wrote this in the associated thread in our forums, but it is worth sharing here as well...

  • Fox News viewers may not be less intelligent, but studies proved that people who watched Fox News were more ill-informed about many political issues facing the country (particularly related to the bogus war in Iraq) running up to an election
  • I think the popular political lenses (liberal and conservative) are both there to make people fight amongst themselves like idiots and miss the bigger picture items...
    • like the FACT that bankers are robbing the country blind right now...that started with Bush & Obama promised change but was the same...both political parties are a bunch of hacks OWNED by the bankers, drug companies, and other large commercial interests
    • Radiohead's the gloaming has the lines "they will suck you down to the other side. shadows blue and red. your alarm bells should be ringing." in it...I believe that was to highlight how the political parties are only shadows of what they claim to be, and that the whole goal of the political process is to polarize the population to make them easy to manipulate (and that Thom wishes people would wake up and see it for what it is)
    • another nice take on this issue is the South Park episode where the students had to vote on a Douche or a Turd Sandwich as their mascot

How anyone can see the whoring out ***both*** of the major United States political parties did for the banksters and still believe any of the party line propaganda is simply beyond me.

It is not the label that political right or left winged nut jobs would give me, but I consider myself to be Libertarian.

August 21, 2009 - 8:21am

Hi Aaron, thanks for covering this story. It will prove to be increasingly important within the industry to directly confront such issues as they arise.

Calling for accountability from those who actively seek to perpetuate negative misconceptions about the search marketing industry is a worthy endeavor.

I would like to mention in passing, that I have a simple "2-Strike" rule that I live by when confronted by careless misinformation outlets:

First I politely address the responsible party with a thoughtful and well researched refutation of any inaccuracies. I suggest that perhaps a public retraction is in order.

If my suggestion is ignored (STRIKE ONE!):

I demand a public retraction of the inaccurate information as well as a public apology.

If my demand is ignored (STRIKE TWO!!):

I craft a more strategic and attention-worthy response in the form of a full SEO campaign.

A special SEO campaign; the kind that instructs the ignorant, inspires fear and stings for many days to come.

August 21, 2009 - 9:56pm

Aaron the study you cite is from a left wing org. so I'm not giving it much credit. What criteria did it use to determine whether the people were "ill-informed"? You'd probably say that I'm ill-informed about the Iraq war (I'm not) and I'd say that from your comments you're ill-informed.

I'm with on the Bankers robbing the country blind right now. Glenn Beck did a really great investigative piece showing how Goldman Sachs put their hand in all the cookie jars and got the US Govt. to wipe out it's competition. ( )

You're a libertarian? Really? Maybe a Liberal-tarian ?
I mean, your last comments do fall in the Libertarian camp, but your former rants do not. Beck and O'Reilly are libertarians - are you a fan? They're on the EeeeVille FoxNews channel you know.

August 22, 2009 - 10:16am

I tend to be more into media from sites like, Karl Denninger's Market Ticker, and Barry Ritholtz. I have always thought Bill O'Reilly is a bit of a jackass, but as a marketer I realize that a lot of his oversized ego and whatnot are just part of the entertainment / show aspect of his offering.

August 25, 2009 - 1:41pm

Hey Aaron: Linking to the FIM article in this post is like writing about Neutrogena and linking to an article about (both owned by Johnson & Johnson); of course this is easier to confuse as both have Fox in the name. I was also on the FIM SEO Team & Fox News is in a different division (just as the Wall Street Journal- also a News Corp company - is in a different division). Is there a reason why you didn't correct this, when you updated the story?

August 25, 2009 - 2:19pm

Hi Natasha
If all SEOs are scum (and Fox News publishes anonymous hack hate articles to postulate such) then why is it the job of everyone else to

  • give Fox the benefit of the doubt
  • know the internal corporate structure of their company
  • use granular language to reflect that convoluted corporate structure (particularly after Fox trashes everyone in a profession as spammers)

SEOs + entrepreneurs are supposed to be the "dirty spammers" while Fox is actually foisting scams and misinformation onto people.

And yet (even while seeing the above as fact) people who worked at Fox are asking me to hold myself to a far higher standard of journalistic integrity than Fox does.

Once Fox updates their article with an apology I will be glad to spend a bit of effort updating mine. But if they brush with broad strokes I would be an idiot to paint with a half inch brush.

Their company having multiple divisions is irrelevant to me.

Why should anyone give a bunch of hack jobs (Fox news, not you guys) the benefit of the doubt when Fox's goal is to misinform and spew hate?

September 26, 2009 - 7:38pm


You should keep your political and personal preferences out of you seo site.

Fox News is the only media outlet that isn't in bed with the Obama administration.

5 to 10 million people a day watch Fox News, and you making silly comments like a pouty teenager (I hate Faux News - whine, whine, whine) is immature for someone running a legitimate business.

You should learn when to keep your mouth shut. Don't mix politics or religion with business. There is wisdom in that.

September 27, 2009 - 9:07pm

5 to 10 million people

How many people use heroin? Popularity doesn't make something right/just/good.

You should learn when to keep your mouth shut.


Just because other media channels are ***also*** garbage, it doesn't get Fox off the hook for publishing poorly researched ignornant anonymous hate spewing content.

They don't stand for journalistic integrity and so they can't be trusted as a media outlet. Simple as that.

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