TNG/Earthling, Inc. : Enterprise SEO
By Gella Sales
The entities responsible for the high ranks of this and many other websites are New York City based TNG/Earthling and CEO Bob Sakayama, who heads up a team of tech savvy developers, webmasters, artists, copywriters, and internet magicians. The label "enterprise SEO" is probably misleading, since the services they offer go way beyond the traditional boundaries of search engine optimization. In researching this company I found references to risk analysis for venture capital & investment firms, development of content management systems, music production (they have a recording studio), domain acquisition, software and data consultation, storytelling, fraud analysis, SEO recourse, etc. But it's very clear that the primary service they offer is related to search performance.
Unlike traditional SEO agencies, TNG/E is not focused on sales - they have no marketing team and don't even have a corporate website. When asked about this, spokesperson Rev Sale responded, "Not having a website when ranking them is our primary business is the perfect counterintuitive strategy that is itself a meta bragging right. Services at the very top of their field can afford to avoid the excessive hype that is the essence of marketing. Performance speaks for itself and bragging about it undermines the trust that enables us to take the calculated risks that can advance our clients interests in highly competitive markets. And low key professionalism is a preferable standard over aggressive marketing. So we do zero marketing. We know this sounds crazy and we like it like that. We are not like any of our supposed competitors. If we did what others do, we would not be who we are. People will always find you via word of mouth when you are consistently the reason for your clients' success. And besides, SEOs have the worst reputation of all - do you really want to hire someone who claims they can get you to #1 on Google on a website where they control the message? By saying nothing and outperforming your competitors you gain a type of respect that can't be bought - that's the respect that comes with trust. Just answering this question makes me a bit uneasy because it feels like we're playing the marketing game we seek to avoid."
While the company may not advertise or promote their services, they do seem to occasionally post articles intended as entertainment and humor. They recently posted an hysterical article written as a technical press release about 2 of their bots that escaped and were recently recaptured. These bots, named Chewbacca and Darth had recently developed a kind of free will and were crazy about wanting to fold paper airplanes. They apparently succeeded before being recaptured. In another humorous post, on a domain that I thought would be the ideal vehicle their SEO business, BobSEO.com, instead has a page titled "What About Bob" that has this content, which Bob claims to be largely true:
What about Bob?
Bob spent his youth reverse scamming the perpetrators of the Nigerian 419 scam. Using numerous aliases, he manipulated would be scammers into following his instructions as he led them on wild goose chases, concluding in humiliating recipe submissions, photo shoots, and telephone auditions. His work was so effective in diverting criminal behavior, that corrupt government officials inside the Nigerian government thought he was acting on behalf of the CIA, and formally filed a complaint. The political pressure applied by the organized crime syndicates became so great, that warrants were issued, and he was eventually picked up and held in a secret detention center on trumped up Google charges. He was last seen in person on October 25, 2003.
Where is Bob?
But while incarcerated, he developed a number of strategies that enabled him to gain a deeper understanding of serendipity, and its relationship to semantics. He also realized that "where" no longer mattered, whereas "how" became all important.
Only a few people can say they have met Bob, and the person they met may not really have been him. So the answer to the question, "Where is Bob?" may not be meaningful.
I wanted to know how they landed their first clients if they did no marketing because having a track record is usually how most people evaluate the value of a service. Bob claims that in the early 2000s he did actually make cold calls out of necessity. But what really launched the business was their early success based on the esoteric expertise they developed solving search penalties. Because of their sophisticated penalty experiments they quickly achieved very high search ranks just by posting what they were doing. At one point, three of their sites were #1, #2 and #3 for "google penalty" and similar terms back when they had no competition on that search. From there the business took off. Bob: "If you can solve an existential problem like a Google penalty, people tend to trust you with other technical tasks, and we very quickly became the market leader in that arena." Their clients began to include SEO agencies and marketing firms that had inadvertently triggered penalties on their clients' sites. Bob was used as a source for a Forbes article focused on Google penalties, and was behind the most popular website on the topic - Google-Penalty.com.
Most SEO services are happy to brag about their client list and prominently post that information on their websites. But since there's no corporate website, TNG/E does not do this, and they do not publicly share examples of their work. "What differentiates enterprise SEO from street level promotion is the need to protect the confidentiality of the enterprise. The bigger the client, the more cautious they are about guarding trade secrets. And one of those secrets is who they've trusted with the sensitive work involved obtaining their high ranks. They are also much less likely to approve any public displays in promotional material - they don't want to hand competitors any knowledge related to their success. Confidentiality is the operative word."
They do seem to be more interested in publicizing their search experiments than client successes. "That's because we value the knowledge more than the money or fame. Staying out of the limelight works in our favor once you understand this philosophy." One of those experiments has been noted in the press recently and is an effort to attain a high rank for the word"nothing" with a very semantically robust treatise entitled "In Search of Nothing." While this may seem like another humorous and jokey post, Bob claims it is a serious attempt to demonstrate 2 important messages. The first is the lack of satisfying results currently in Google's search results and secondly a genuine world class competition - that search has about 2 billion documents. Yet the search has little or no commercial value, so once again we see how unimportant financial considerations are.
Both Bob Sakayama and TNG/Earthling's spokes person Rev Sale continually reiterate their philosophy about what garners trust in the online world, and it's not brags. Telling the world that you are the best at something only raises doubts about your claims. Proving it over and over, but quietly is more productive in the long run. They apparently follow the Enterprise SEO Rule of Experts: Real experts never claim to be experts, but let their actions speak for themselves. Anyone who claims to be an expert is less likely to be perceived as one.
gbs at abmeta.org