David Ogilvy on SEO

by Ruud Hein January 29th, 2008 

images1 "The most important word in the vocabulary of SEO is TEST."

"Never stop testing, and your SEO will never stop improving."

"SEO people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals."

David Ogilvy  on Paid Reviews

"There is no need for advertisements to look like advertisements. If you make them look like editorial pages, you will attract about 50 per cent more readers."

What do you think about a site marking those links nofollow?

"It strikes me as bad manners for a site to accept one of my advertisements and then attack it editorially - like inviting a man to dinner then spitting in his eye."

David Ogilvy on SEO Clients

images2 "The relationship between a company and their SEO agency is almost as intimate as the relationship between a patient and his doctor. Make sure that you can life happily with your prospective client before you accept his account."

"Many companies secretly question whether SEO really helps their site, but are vaguely afraid that their competitors might steal a march on them if they stopped."

"I avoid clients for whom SEO is only a marginal factor in their marketing mix. They have an awkward tendency to raid their SEO appropriations whenever they need cash for other purposes."

David Ogilvy on Blogging & Content

images3 "The headline is the 'ticket on the meat.' Use it to flag down readers who are prospects."

"On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar."

"I... I don't know the rules of grammar... If you're trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular."

David Ogilvy on Your Users

"What really decides users to buy or not to buy is the content of your site, not its form."

"The consumer isn't a moron; she is your wife."

Note: as Mr. Ogilvy has passed away in 1999 the above obviously isn't an interview with him. The above are actual quotes from Mr. Ogilvy made applicable to SEO by replacing words such as advertisement and consumer with SEO or user. I find it fascinating to see how relevant his statements are.

Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

Ruud Hein

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11 Responses to “David Ogilvy on SEO”

  1. imBuntu says:

    So in a summary, we need to do end user optimization first and then search engine optimization. So at the end both should co-exists with each other. If there is perfect mix, then only ROI will come.

  2. Hobo says:

    A real great read.

  3. Wingnut says:

    @imBuntu – I think that in the future of SEO, as the search engines advance or change to add user voted system, the lines between search engine optimization and front end user optimization will blur.

  4. imBuntu says:


    I am came across the news that google is trying to replace with its own brand where community voting power will be the prime aspect.

    Each user will be given credit to add authenticate data to this project and the sites which got more number of credibility in this project will rank higher compare to other.

    So that's the reason I mentioned that site should optimized for the end user. If end user finds the site useful, search engine will also.

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  5. Brad Shorr says:

    David Ogilvy was appreciated in his time and way ahead of his time, as you so wonderfully demonstrate. I recently read his books and they taught me more than the next four or five books put together.

  6. David Temple says:

    How relevant. David Ogilvy's advise indeed timeless. As regional head of search at Ogilvy (Neo) I will use this in my internal presentations if you don't mind.

  7. […] David Ogilvy on SEO What do you think about a site marking those links nofollow? "It strikes me as bad manners for a site to accept one of my advertisements and then attack it editorially – like inviting a man to dinner then spitting in his eye." (tags: advertising SEO David Ogilvy) […]

  8. Blur says:

    "what do you think about link spamming in blogs"?

    David Ogilvy:
    "It sucks man, people are just stupid"

  9. Ruud Hein says:

    imBuntu, Wingnut: I like those ideas. Facing towards the prospect will be much easier nowadays actually.

    Brad: yup, was the same for me :)

    David, sure feel free to use the material. If you have something that you can share with me (either in public on the blog or in private), let me know — would be interesting to see.

  10. […] David Ogilvy on SEO Ruud Hein, Search Engine People | 1/29/08 […]

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