SEO is Not Bullshit

May 5th, 2010 by Richard Zwicky

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Unfortunately for some, it can seem to be when you put your trust in the wrong hands. On Monday, (May 2, 2010), a well-known SEO - Rae Hoffman, also known as sugarrae, wrote an excellent piece demolishing a poorly informed “insights into SEO” type article about why Big Brands don’t Rank. I’m not going to dive into the details of that article; if you haven’t already done so, you can read it for yourself (and make sure to read Rae’s as well to understand how off base it was).

The point is bad SEO analysis and advice continues to plague online marketing, and unfortunately some of the bad advice sometimes comes from individuals or firms that could be considered authorities. Bad advice of the kind published in the Big Brands article on Monday immediately undermines credibility of quality SEO, and makes all businesses more skeptical and cautious about investing in this area of online marketing.

The reality is, proper SEO is not bullshit. It’s not witchcraft, and great SEO’s don’t really practice their dark art doing things to web pages and web sites that are beyond the scope of anyone without years of insights and training. I know tons of great SEO’s who don’t have years of experience, and some great SEO’s who have operated under the radar, unrecognized for years. There’s also some well known individuals associated with the industry who are not great SEO’s, but they are great marketers. The reality is:

I could write out / share a lot of information and details around each of these points about great SEO, but there’s not much point. There are lots of great articles filled with very useful information published about SEO each day. Even better, there are great SEO’s out there who can provide you credible insights to act upon, and who can help your entire marketing strategy become much more effective.

Bad SEO, and poor quality advice is trouble. It’s trouble for everyone associated to online marketing, because bad advice and experiences makes companies gun-shy about investing again. When companies pull out of SEO they do so not because the channel doesn’t work, but because their implementation was badly done. When you pull out of SEO, you’re undermining yourself and marketing your business without a strong foundation. SEO is about more than just html, it’s about conversion optimization, site architecture, and optimizing the user experience: it’s sales and it’s marketing. Get rid of all that, and you’ve just thrown most of your business potential out the window.

You might wonder: what do I know? Well, After having spent over 10 years in this industry, I’ve had the chance to see, hear, and observe a heck of a lot. I’m lucky enough to be invited to speak at a lot of conferences worldwide, not because I’m always the most exciting speaker, but because I have relevant information and a lot of experience. I earned that experience doing online marketing for B2B sites with less than 100 search referrals / month (to start), and B2C ones with over 750,000 search referrals / day, and more importantly: thousands of conversions per day, (when I was done).

So what do I know? Maybe not much. But I do know this: SEO is NOT Bullshit.

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12 Responses to “SEO is Not Bullshit”

  1. Dead on. Bad SEO ruins it for clients, the industry and for the rest of us who are striving every day to provide good SEO. Those who think SEO is snake oil and witchcraft can sit in the corner and whine about poor traffic, poor conversions and why their competition is kicking their ass. I have NO pity on those who don’t believe in good SEO. If you don’t don’t like what their singing on the radio, then turn the channel. Next!

  2. Richard:

    My favorite takeaway here is this…

    “Great SEO’s don’t care about just driving traffic; they work to drive up conversions, or increase branding.”

    Just like optimizing the wrong keywords is a moot point, SEO without conversions falls under this category.

    Good stuff!

  3. Laura Callow says:

    Big brands are the same as small business in that they are limited in SEM success by the knowledge and expertise of the people they choose to hire - in any arena. Many of them are realizing the need for effective, targeted SEO and PPC. PPC is driving SEO phrases more and more as the conversion data is easily and quickly obtainable and applied. That does not detract from the long-tail, and many big-brands are well aware of the need to write for people, not search engines - and favour it as a natural long-tail enabler. Backlinks that are self-perpetuating due to content quality are the best you can get in terms of volume and longevity. The article you cited was frightening, Rae’s response was bang-on as is to be expected from someone of her experience and industry known expertise - but may need clarification for the uneducated, this post was a fantastic summation. Thanks Richard.

  4. Jade Carter says:

    Bravo Richard.

    I admire the gusto here. We sure are mired in a sea of salty ‘blackened’ fish. Nice to finally find some ‘tell it like it is’ marketers out there. Some of this is so blindingly obvious and to be realistic, our trade is still very new and mysterious to so many site owners across every market. Unfortunately these sites may find some terrible advice as they test some outsourced SEO.

    Go Enquisite..

  5. Dave Jenkins says:

    Thanks for the Great read, SEO frustrating to many due to it’s elusive nature and the intimidating manner in which it reveals failings in any given SEO process.

    As Richard has pointed out it’s ongoing process that demands careful consideration at the outset and clearly it’s very much a marketing issue. Though it’s easy to see how the lines have been blurred.

    It seems obvious to Me that there are 2 kinds of business moving forward. Those that get it and those that don’t.

    Those companies who see the reality of the eCommerce landscape will dominate in the coming years while those businesses who FAIL to recognise the value SEO plays in developing business or just give up are perilously close to becoming new Luddites.

    SEO is an amazing opportunity for brands to engage customers in a timely and very appropriate manner.

    Rather than see SEO being seen as frightening, ’snake oil’, black magic, painful (or as a ‘pain in the arse’ (thanks Richard for the opportunity to say it like it is), Your brand should see it as the beginning of a long term project strengthening existing relationships and developing new ones in an expanding market space.

    Exciting stuff, and not bullshit, well unless You’re giving up?

  6. Wayne Hall says:

    Excellent article.

    I have been working in and around SEO for years and often find myself getting caught up in so many details before I remind myself of the first rule of good SEO - having good content for the content seeker as so well outlined in your third point:

    “Great SEO is not an IT project; it’s customer acquisition, branding and sales. Why does marketing let it be shoved into the status of an IT project? That’s a warning sign of a company that doesn’t understand the value of marketing online.”

  7. Great article, very insightful and I think we have a true champion for the value of SEO, well done, keep it up and thank you for a great service.

    Regards, Integrati Marketing.

  8. And the worst thing is having to explain your client why you charge them money for a sweet ranking! In the end a click on adwords costs like 5 $ in some categories… sad!

  9. [...] given me the most concise list of Search Engine traffic data is Eightfold Logic, formerly known as Enquisite (way better name). Email to friend No [...]

  10. Sarah says:

    Excellent story, bookmarked your blog with interest to see more!

  11. Slava says:

    “Great SEO’s don’t care about just driving traffic; they work to drive up conversions, or increase branding.”

    Couldn’t have said it any better. Thanks.

  12. googlebot is just a piece of software so it will always follow a logical order, those urls place at the top of the sitemap will get spidered first and those towards the bottom, later on. Im not sure if there is a limit to the amount of urls submitted or a point at which the google bot gives up but I would defintiely make sure your priority pages are nearer the top of the list.

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