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What is SEO?

Written by David Harry   
Sunday, 24 August 2008 09:53

Ok… I noticed a few comments on Sphinn about my last post… (why don’t peeps comment on posts here?)… and decided to respond…

Hugo Guzman said;


I usually like his post's, but I think that he burned himself on this one. My two main issues are as follows:

1) He says that ranking matter, but uses keyword research as the main foundation for his assertion. There's a big difference between performing keyword research - a key SEO element - and using rankings as a basis for SEO analytics (the latter is what most people are referring to when they say that rankings don't matter)

2) He says that worrying about conversions is not a key aspect of what SEO's should be worrying about. That screams SEO circa 2001. The most successful SEOs understand that SEO is really just part of an overall marketing effort, and that most of the time, good SEO goes hand in hand with analytics, creative, development, usability, etc...

David lost big points in my book. I hope that he comes on here and clarifies his stance, in case I misinterperted (I'm still suffering from a little leftover SES jetlag).

As U may have noticed, I was decidedly taking a singular route with the post … in the hopes that it would further the discussion (until ethics and standards once more grace us…ooops.... here we go). Being a cheeky fecker, it just was the mood I was in.

Not sure you caught all of what I was on about…. But ignoring rankings might be a great idea for those SEO enthusiasts working on their own projects, but when it comes to billable activities, associating costs and values of given target terms is still important. Sure, like the dreaded ‘little green bar’ it is but a metric that we don’t bet the farm on, but discounting it as I have seen, is not realistic or even wise IMO.

Keep in mind that I am keenly aware of geo-targeting issues and am very well schooled in personalized search, query analysis and behavioral metrics in the search world. I understand it well, and do work within that realm. I understand ranking mechanisms ;0) – that was the firs part of the rant, how little modern SEOs talk about the evolution of search engines… not many, same ol stuff most of the time.

Each and every term has a related cost in my book and I am anal about ROI (uh oh… back to the conversions thang). I am a money term guy and while secondary and long tail are nice… they often have return cycles that make them meaningless until one owns the primary. But that’s just how I roll… wasn’t as much the points I was making.

Think of professional SEO consulting services or in-house practitioners, valuating terms and geotargeting is still an important aspect when the time rolls around to evaluate budgets for new campaigns.  I personally do consulting that affords me more power…much of that rant was about the ‘average SEO’ type…

To that end, conversions are also a sketchy metric for a fastidious SEO. As I mentioned, there are often many roadblocks to conversions that have nothing to do with the SEO department. I ask you to find me one SEO course that teaches the intricacies of any of the disciplines I mentioned.. hell, the theory of pricing models alone is beyond the scope.

Sure, I do have control and the training in these areas and can affect change with my campaigns, but to BS young SEOs into believing they have the inert ability to make these changes/decisions without formal training is silly. So, I wrote that as a marketer whom felt SEO peeps were out-stepping their boundaries when taking responsibility for the conversion end of things.. and addressing those in companies where they don’t make such decisions…. Not the mom and pop SEO enthusiast…

I am sure there are those in the conversions industry that might take offence to SEOs thinking that it is their domain ;0)

Let me ask you this… are you willing to work SEO contracts as Pay-for-performance? Because if yer putting mega weight into SEO/Conversions being bedmates… you might as well be… ;0)

So while I was truly playing around, I still believe…

  1. SEO ain’t dead or near dying
  2. Rankings do have a place, but not as much as before
  3. Conversions aren’t truly the domain of SEO peeps unless they are trained for it and have the power to affect change

And if you noticed the small print at the end of the post… I simply felt these were some of the ‘usual suspects’ as far as topics go in the industry… I have been on vacation and decided to poke the community with a stick… just because it’s fun ;0) … seeing some type of discussion start up is a bonus… (you really should drop by the blog more often… you’d know my penchant for being a cheeky fecker)

In the end… I am shocked at the seeming arrogance of SEOs that believe they have the talents to truly understand conversions… when and where did SEO training involve any of the technical/strategic aspects to the art of conversions?

These are the same group that still chases links and haven’t bothered to understand what new ranking signals have entered the game over the last few years…. sigh… I still think the community is getting lost and need to look hard into the mirror of what exactly SEO is….

…I’m just sayin’

Now you tell me... what is SEO? Is the study of SEO synonomous with conversions? Or are some SEOs over stating things?

(Oh and I told ya SEO Ethics would be around real soon... he he...see here - and still not a word on behavioral signals...duh)


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