Usability-first Search Engine Optimization

SEO is Dead. Again.

SEO is dead AGAIN!
When I read Chris Dixon’s piece claiming that SEO is “no longer a viable marketing strategy for startups”, I didn’t know what to make of it—ignorance or linkbait? The one-dimensional blurb headlines the article, which is supposedly supported by evidence of lower value websites outranking high value ones due to link popularity.

SEO is not the problem, people that use SEO to index garbage content of no value are the problem.

2011 SEO ≠ 2004 SEO

According to Chris, high-quality content is losing the battle of the SERPs because of the tens of thousands of blackhats working to “game SEO”.

Yes, we know many that claim to be SEOs are selling nothing but links, keyword spam and directory submissions, but anyone that equates SEO in general with the spammy blackhat demographic is obviously more than a bit confused.

When you criticize SEO as being a “dark art” or snake oil, you’re confusing the shady work of internet hustlers with skills of search visibility professionals that work on a daily basis with content strategy, Web usability, Web standards, content marketing and Web analytics.

Dixon goes on to condescendingly offer that “Some of the SEO industry is “white hat,” which generally means consultants giving benign advice for making websites search-engine friendly” (my emphasis). This is where his lack of knowledge regarding search visibility becomes crystal clear.

SEO isn’t just about keywords and anchor text anymore.

Before you accuse SEO, take a look at yourself

There is a lot of garbage on the Internet. Sharing that same garbage heap—you know, that one with the shady, spammy Internet hustlers—are members of the media that sniff out current news items, take them out of context (usually without understanding the subject matter) and run with them around their pathetic little sensationalist race track. This is even more damaging than black-hat, spammy, snake oil SEO, because at least the stench of the latter is obvious, unlike editorial FUD disguised as fact.

Criticizing SEO because of spammers is just as silly as criticizing journalism because of wannabe-relevant authors and their misguided editorial efforts.

I was happy to see some recognized search professionals chime into the comments on Chris Dixon’s piece; including Laura Lippay, Alan Bleiweiss, Dharmesh Shah, Andrew Shotland, AJ Kohn, Ross Hudgens, Terry Van Horne, Doc Sheldon, and others. All good examples of people in the industry that know the difference between adding value and pretending to add value, à la blackhat.

About matt

Matthew Edward is the founder of Springboard SEO, a usability-first search engine optimization company in Montreal.

  • “Web visibility consultant”, eh, Matt? Has a nice ring to it, I suppose. But I’m stubborn, and by most accounts, not too bright, so I’ll stick with SEO. Hell, it took me long enough to learn how to spell THAT one… yours would take me forever! ;)

  • Ya, Web visibility consultant, or WVS doesn’t have the same ring to it, it’s true.

  • I call myself an SEO, and unapologetically so. Most people don’t know what it means anyway, and for those that do – I refuse to accept defeat and bow down to the negative image perpetuated by clueless linkbaiters, ignorami, and spammers. We have to work hard to give this industry the credibility it deserves, and we’re not going to do that by bending over and taking it.

  • You, sir, have inspired me.
    SEO it is!