It’s been a busy week in the world of SEO. First, some ass-hat writes a piece on his blog calling all SEOs “Spammers, Evildoers and Opportunists,” and he refers to anyone that claims to be a clean “do-good” SEO as a web developer. Then, Danny at Search Engine Land offers a retort, highlighting some examples of proper SEO and the benefits, etc. Surprise, after a bunch of lame SEOs jump on the ass-hat’s post, he does another post and adds more fuel to the fire. Surprise, surprise, Danny offers another retort.
So, what did we learn?
I think that friend of the blog, Melanie Phung, put it best in a tweet yesterday:
Yes, that’s about right…most of the time.
The thing that made this little debate so much more interesting to me is that both sides are actually saying some truthful, albeit misguided things. Let’s start with the salvo from Mr. Powazek. Some truthful elements in his post:
- Make sure to use keywords in the headline, use proper formatting, provide summaries of the content, include links to relevant information. All of this is a good idea, and none of it is a secret.
- It’s not your job to create content for Google. it’s their job to find the best of the web for their results. Your audience is your readers, not Google’s algorithm.
- Make something great. Tell people about it. Do it again. Then tell people about it. Start with your friends. Send them a personal note – not an automated blast from a spam cannon. Post it to your Twitter feed, email list, personal blog. (Don’t have those things? Start them.) Tell people who give a shit – not strangers.
All of these strategies are essential to being successful online, and should be heeded by anyone trying to increase traffic to their site. While this may seem obvious to Mr. Powazek, sometimes it’s hard to remember that this isn’t obvious to everyone. There are plenty of businesses out there that have no knowledge of how to be successful online. In Danny’s response, he highlights a few of these situations:
- A real estate agent selling real estate in one of the most competitive areas of the country, Newport Beach, California. Her friends aren’t all going to buy homes she’s listing. Her “community” congregates on Google and does things like type in “newport beach homes for sale.”
- She probably needs to kick [her individual listings] out into Google Base, in order to fully be listed in Google.
- Where’s her web site now? Is she running it off Blogger? Using her own domain? These have impacts on how both the search engines may see her as well as how she’s perceived.
- Does she have a local office? If so, has she claimed her listing in Google Local?
- Has she considered some unusual, creative ways to create content around real estate in her area, perhaps some catchy link bait, which may pull in the links she needs to rank better.
Danny offers a couple other examples, and then hints at some web developers being slightly shady too. However, these sets of arguments from both men are all we need to look at today. (I’m completely ignoring the mudslinging as it was frankly woefully out of date and misguided, the heart of the argument lies within these points – not in the bullshit).
I think the problem with both of these gentlemens’ posts is that they aren’t seeing the whole picture. Danny does stress that this “It’s not your father’s (or mother’s) SEO that you rant about, … But make no mistake, it’s SEO.”
Aside from the first, third, and fifth suggestions that Danny offers, would we really consider the rest to be SEO? While it’s true that leveraging Google Base and Google Local (Bing Local, Yahoo Local, etc) for a small business is great advice and could be seen as “optimizing” said company’s presence on Google, does it qualify as SEO. Technically, sure – as it’s helping to improve the site’s presence on Google. However, this is really more online advertising than SEO. There’s no code adjustments or link building or content massaging here. Nothing on site. Nothing that a web developer should be doing.
Frankly, Mr. Powazek’s SEOs shouldn’t be doing this either. In his eyes, they should be manipulating the site, creating drastically outdated spamming systems, and causing all sorts of irreversible grief for him. However, in his model, I don’t believe the web developer shouldn’t be held responsible for this either.
The truth of the matter is, both Danny and Mr. Powazek are wrong. Powazek is wrong because he believes that SEOs haven’t evolved past the shady tactics used in 2000, whereas Danny is wrong by using the ever expanding blanket term of SEO.
We are not SEOs. We are Search Engine Marketers, Online Marketers, Online Advertisers, Online Strategists, et cetera.
We do not spam sites.
We do not hide links.
We help create good content. We build a brand strategy. We understand how to achieve higher ranking on search engines without manipulating them.
This isn’t the first time I’ve stressed that the term SEO is out of date, and until that term is changed or updated, it surely won’t be the last.