I’m Not Defending SEO

Neil Maycock looped me into a blog post called “Asking Bloggers To Break The Law” on Mummy Barrow.

In summary, it was a well-deserved, opinionated rhapsody on one SEO link building tactic. SEOs only need to read an excerpt from a link builder, which the author published, to get the gist of this article:

“Unfortunately we have had new guidelines introduced that state we can’t place any more articles that are labelled as sponsored as they highlight the link has been paid for. Not great in the eyes of Google.

If that’s the case that you definitely have to state ‘sponsored’, then I won’t be able to go ahead I’m afraid.

I don’t suppose offering you a bit more money would sway the decision would it?”


So here’s a rant of my own. So much of SEO is ridiculous. It always was, it probably always will be. We were born in forums, so conversations get kind of… bizarre, off-topic, chatty, etc. But, as long as there are SEOs who define search optimization as strategies to improve rankings, there will be tacticians like this, and their defenders. The problem for SEOs, who define search optimization as a more holistic marketing channel, is this grants a negative context by which they don’t want to be known by. The antics continue online, and the machine starts spinning again.

But negative or not, it’s one half of what SEO is. Other SEOs, and Google, may try to change that. It’s a lost cause. It’s complete chaos.

It’s like republicans vs. democrats. One party can tell another group (of any political persuasion) what code they should live by, but banking on a sweeping change is a fool’s bet. Instead, we live in a mostly-two party nation. I wish I could convince all our industry peers to see it my way (don’t try to lie and manipulate a blogger, don’t be a lazy link builder, etc.), but I don’t waste the bandwidth on the unachievable. Instead, I’d rather focus on sending the message I stand by, to the clients I pitch, the people who read my stuff, and the people I meet at networking events. I fully acknowledge what we REALLY are. It helps me define what I am.

I’m Bill. I do online marketing and strategy. The way I go about it, SEO is a big fiber in the whole canvas I create on.

I find myself more and more distancing from SEO as a label, and instead embracing all of online marketing.

I’m Not Defending SEO image hi my name is seo1I’m Not Defending SEOIt started a year ago. At Mozcon 2012, there were a couple presentations about “SEO needs to grow up”. We need to get more into digital PR, content marketing, etc. I completely disagreed (it took a few weeks to sink in). If you want to get more into those channels – and why not, it’s an asset – I think you stop labeling everything as SEO, and start considering yourself bigger than SEO. Should an SEO be an expert at usability, graphic design, content marketing, analytics, and social media? No, you should be an expert in what they do for improvement in SERPs and better conversion rates through search traffic. However, if you want to be an expert in those things, strive to be a digital marketer (or inbound marketer, if that’s what you prefer to call it). SEO doesn’t need blurrier definitions or an obtuse label.

I simply don’t spend time defending, or being a criticizer of SEO tactics that I personally don’t care for, but I do defend the industry when the other side of the story is absent. I don’t pitch or “negative sell” to clients on the scary SEO monsters out there. Instead, I talk about the incredible value SEO and digital marketing can have for a company.

So to Mummy Barrow, I am sad this link builder worked you up. I can see from the comments it apparently gets to several of your blogging peers. I totally understand why. I think you’re completely justified. I can’t validated the lie you were told. I can’t validate – or defend – what SEO is supposed to be (or not be) either. I just hope one day more people associate SEO to the big picture of thoughtful, valuable, helpful digital marketing that so many of us practice.

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