Dumbass of the Week: Gene Marks

DuhI had this week’s dumbass post all lined up and then I received a suggestion from Sphinnster Incrediblehelp about a more deserving candidate. So without further ado, I give you this week’s dumbass: Gene Marks.

Frighteningly, Gene writes for Business Week on MSNBC and his column is read by a large percentage of small businesses. The link above leads to his very unenlightened post titled Tech “Solutions” Your Small Biz Can’t Use. In the post, he basically states that having an online presence is a bad idea for small business.

This article contains possibly THE WORST advice for small business that I have ever read. Certainly the worst I’ve read this year.

Here are five 13 reasons why this article makes Gene Marks a dumbass:

1. He uses “highfalutin” as an adjective:

“A lot of highfalutin software and gadgets aim to help you run your company, but too little of it is suited for a small business environment.”

2. He claims to speak for ALL business owners:

“We business owners are subjected to an endless array of tools that never fail to disappoint. We’re promised. We pay. And we’re let down.”

3. He claims that the following technology doesn’t work when evidence to the contrary is staring him in the face:

“1. RSS Feeds 2. Spam Filters 3.Antivirus Software 4. Blogs 5. Search Engine Optimization 6. Mobile Applications 7. CRM Software 8. AdWords 9. Online Video 10. Web 2.0”

4. He recommends against using anti-virus software:

“Betsy was looking for just the right technology to slow down her employees’ computers and significantly degrade the performance of her business applications. Well, she found it, and it’s called anti-virus software.”

5. He tars all SEOs with the same brush because he was scammed by one:

“I forked over a bunch of dough to a firm in California that promised to get my company’s name on “all the major search engines” when someone was looking for products that we sell. How did they plan to do this? I’m still not really sure, but it had something to do with spiders, black hats, and link farms. That should’ve been enough of a hint that witchcraft was involved.

6. He recommends against using anti-spam software:

“I get this question at just about every presentation I give to business owners: ‘What spam filters do you recommend?’ My answer: ‘None.’ They all suck.”

7. He recommends AGAINST using anti-spam software! (Thought this one was worth repeating)

“In the end, it’s cheaper for your employees to just sort and delete spam as it comes in.”

8. He considers mobile apps (and renewable energy) science fiction:

“Mobile applications will be a great thing someday. Just like hovercrafts, telepods, and renewable energy. But for a small business on a limited budget, it’s still science fiction.”

9. He sold $20K worth of software to a customer who didn’t need it and blamed the customer:

“I’ve always been a big proponent of customer relationship management [CRM] software. One big reason is that my company sells this stuff… Unfortunately, we have a lot of other customers who haven’t been as successful. Fred, a manufacturer of roofing materials, is one of them. Fred and I both learned that a CRM system doesn’t work for a small business without an internal “champion” who takes ownership of it. His $20,000 system just sat there. No one used it.”

10. He encourages readers NOT to buy his company’s software:

See 9.

11. He writes off pay per click advertising for all small business just because HE can’t figure it out:

“Are you interested in a mind-numbing exercise? Give AdSense a shot. Or Yahoo SM or MSN AdCenter… Here’s a word of wisdom: Leave the mass-market advertising to Coke (KO) and Pepsi (PEP). Small business owners should stick to less mystifying forms of promotion.”

12. His comments about online video are pure fiction and display his total ignorance of the medium:

“Quality videos require production companies. Otherwise you’ll have grainy, useless footage. And videos that run beyond a certain length aren’t even YouTube-able.”

The final clue that shows Gene as a deserving candidate for Dumbass of the Week is this one:

13. He complains that RSS Feeds are meaningless, but his own articles appear in them:

“Bob, an electrical contractor, knows what RSS stands for, and I feel sorry for him. He had the misfortune of signing up for an RSS feed.”

In fact, there is an RSS feed directly under his article. Priceless!

Wow, I started this post assuming I’d only find 5 reasons why Mr Marks is a dumbass, but I ended up with 13. Well 12 really. Judging by the commentary his article has triggered, it seems I’m not alone in my assessment. But it’s scary to think of how many small business owners will read this article and take it as gospel. Let’s hope they read the comments!

Have you got an opinion on the article? Why not contact the editors of BusinessWeek directly, or simply comment on this post. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Search Industry Job of the Week: SEM Strategist

Job Title: SEM Strategist
Job Reference #: Unknown
Position Type: full time, permanent
Name of employer: Yodle, Inc
Location: New York, NY
Date Posted: 7 January 2008
Position description:

Reporting to the VP, Operations, the SEM Strategist, will be a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) expert, have Pay per Click (PPC) knowledge and will develop and implement effective (SEM) strategies and tactics, with the goal of generating higher quality leads at lowest cost.


• Analyze search marketing campaign data and make suggestions to optimize search-marketing campaigns.
• Developing vertical specific industry knowledge and best practices that will drive account profitability and drive increase in online revenue generation
• Oversee a large number of customer accounts with intention of driving high retention rates.
• Identify, communicate and train our internal account management team on SEM best practices for the local market.
• Work with Product Managers and the technology group to incorporate these Best Practices into our platform and bidding system.


• 3 + years experience analyzing web-based marketing reports and data to develop solutions that optimize campaign performance.
• 1-2 years PPC campaign experience. Certification in either Google Adwords, Yahoo!/Overture, and MSN AdCenter preferred.
• Background in search engine marketing strategies and optimization techniques including: pay per click advertising, paid search advertising, keyword analysis and selection; competitive site analysis; keyword density analysis; optimization of site content; ad copy generation.
• Knowledge of online lead generation space and experience with CPL, CPA, and PPC advertising
• Strong Analytical and problem solving skills: Ability to deal with large volumes of data and making actionable decisions
• Experience working with web analytics tools preferred.
• Strong attention to detail, organization, time and project management skills, with the ability to collaborate and inspire others
• Ability to work on multiple projects with varying deadlines
• Excel and PowerPoint experience are required, SQL skills a plus.
• Bachelor’s degree required, Masters degree preferred.


• An opportunity to further enhance your skills and refine your talent.
• Continuing education including; training, seminars, books, periodical subscriptions.
• Highly competitive compensation.
• Attractive Stock Option Plan.
• Health/Dental benefits, 401 (K) plan.
• Great work environment and culture.
• Accessible and open-minded leadership.
• A unique opportunity to work with smart people and learn a lot about one of the fastest growing industries

To apply here’s what to do:

Email your resume to jobs[at]yodle.com Please reference, “SEM Strategist” in the subject section of your email when you apply.

Salary range: Competitive
Closing date: Unknown
More info from: [www.yodle.com]
Contact: Send resumes to jobs[at]yodle.com

For more search industry job vacancies visit Search Engine College Jobs Board

Q and A: Does it matter where keywords are placed within the site copy?

QuestionHi Kalena…

I do have a question I would love an answer to. Is keyword/keyphrase placement within copy relevant? Does it matter “where” the keywords are placed within the copy? Does placement affect search engine relevancy?


Dear Di

All other things being equal, the closer to the beginning of your copy you can integrate your keywords the better. Some people insist that scattering keywords throughout works well, but all agree that you need your major keywords in your main heading and first paragraph no matter what. This is because search engines scan the first few paragraphs first when determining relevancy.

First Search Light Newsletter for 2008

In case you missed it, I published the first Search Light Newsletter for 2008 this week. It features some of the most popular search engine Q and A posts from this blog, together with a feature article about how to increase your conversions and a discount for Keyword Discovery thrown in for good measure.

Yes, I know the green template is annoying some of you, but I didn’t have time to fix it this month. I promise I’ll soften the colors for the next issue. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can sign up via the Newsletter tab at the top of this page.

Q and A: As a new content / SEO writer, how should I quote?

QuestionHi Kalena…

I’m after some advice from a professional and I immediately thought of you as I’m one of your SEO students. I’ve set up my new website and I’ve just had my first request for a quote. However, I’m not sure how to quote, what to base that on, or how others are doing that.

Would you be able to let me know how most content/SEO writers quote for doing websites? It’s really for writing new websites, so not simply editing existing ones. I’m not sure whether to base that on the number of pages/words or on a time spent basis, or what. I don’t know what the norm is.

Could you give me any pointers?

Thanks very much!

Dear Micky

There are some very good pointers for this in the bonus lesson that comes at the end of SEO 201 so you might want to download the bonus lesson PDF and look at that.

Basically, it’s always better (in my opinion) to quote an hourly rate and then work out how many hours each page will take you to copywrite. If it’s easier, you can always provide the customer an estimate (e.g. each page should take between 2-3 hours at my standard hourly rate of $150 + taxes) and then invoice the final cost after the job is done.

This will require you to keep timesheets and be accurate with your time measurements. It also gives the client the option of reducing the number of pages to be done if they want to save money instead of expecting you to lower your fees. Something else I offer clients is the ability to save 10% or 20% if they purchase consulting hours in bulk e.g. hourly rate is $150 but drops to $135 per hour for 10 hours or more purchased in a single month or to $120 per hour for 20 hours or more in a single month.

You might also find my past blog posts about Home Based Business helpful, particularly As a freelance SEM, how should I structure my fees?

In that last post I talk about Freshbooks online invoicing software that has built-in timesheets and a start-stop timer so you can monitor time spent on projects and bill clients accurately. Apart from the fact that it’s very low-priced, I simply could not function without this software!

Good luck with the business.