Why seo language must change
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by Brian Easter
August 06, 2012
About Brian Easter
Brian Easter is one of Nebo Agency’s founders and is driven by two things: a love of interactive marketing and a duty to bring home the bacon-flavored tofu (AKA dog food) for his dog. While he does enjoy the simple pleasures in life, such as driving his car as fast as possible on the interstate while his passengers cower in the backseat, his true passion is helping clients make the most of the web.
Article Contributors included:
Emily McClendon, Director of Search Engine Optimization @ Nebo Agency
Brett Snyder, Search Engine Marketing Specialist @ Nebo Agency
Kimm Lincoln, Senior Director of Digital Marketing @ Nebo Agency
Brian Easter has written 46 articles for PromotionWorld. View all articles by Brian Easter…
I’m a word lover. Who wouldn’t be? The English language is a complex and ever-changing body of words uniquely adapted to describe every thought we have ever had. There is a word for every meaning and frequently multiple meanings for every word. Intrinsic in the very nature of the language we use are flexibility and adaptation to suit evolving fields or ideas. Sound familiar? It does to me. Definite parallels can be drawn between the evolution of the English language and the evolution of the world of SEO.
While the rules at the core of SEO have remained relatively constant, with the very high level concept of accumulated link value indicating relative popularity, the tactics of SEO have changed dramatically. To describe the new paradigm of SEO, new words are required, and old ones must be abandoned. Let’s just say “link bait” can go the way of “gardyloo” as far as I’m concerned.
Honestly, SEO specialists have had it easy so far. Working in a field that was relatively unknown up to five years ago has allowed us to create a vocabulary that is quite descriptive of our successful tactics but that certainly couldn’t be considered client friendly. The vast majority of client communication involved reports of ranking increases, presentation of link strategies, or straightforward reports of website traffic with limited analysis.
As clients have become web savvy and aware of the alternatives available, SEO specialists are becoming responsible for more than just boosting the total number of links each month. Clients have not only educated themselves about what SEO reports actually mean, but there is also no longer the same blanket acceptance of any strategy presented. Truthfully, the jig is up.
Online presence has become a confluence of all types of content: website copy, social media presences, and a multitude of other channels, most of which are no longer controllable. Clients large and small have realized that engaging the online community is about creating coherent strategies with core messaging carried across all mediums. SEO specialists can’t get away with a bait-and-switch when people are aware of the impact low quality content can have or expect exorbitant commensuration for a high value link. As the tactical perspective is disappearing, so is the terminology that goes along with it. Keep in mind, however, that change doesn’t mean destruction.
The irony of the “SEO is dead” argument is that the very arguments writers are using to support their case are already old news in the SEO community. Algorithm shifts have always been around; Google pays its engineers good money to keep ahead of the SEO curve. What has changed is that the algorithm shifts over the past two years exponentially accelerated the shift towards user-focused marketing. Penalties for duplicate content and poor quality links, as well as excessive SEO, are just further indicators that increasing the number of links month to month is not going to satisfy either search engines or your clients.
Those same unsatisfied clients are the ones we need to be educating. Instead of jumping into a campaign with the agreed upon premise that more rankings are better rankings, clients need to be instructed on what they should be looking at, and why. Accountability and transparency are not just for the government. The best client/agency relationships are long lasting and mutually beneficial. For that to happen, agencies have to start conversations that clients will listen to with words they will understand. Below is a list of 10 SEO Words to Ban Forever from a recent Nebo blog post.
1. Link bait – While the original concept behind the term wasn’t inherently evil, what an awful term this is. Bait implies tricking. Bait implies it’s not going to be valuable for the user. Bait implies an attempt to abuse the unconscious for personal gain. Besides, the language of links is nearly dead. Create great content along with a strong awareness and promotion plan and good things will happen.
2. Link juice – The idea behind the phrase is still relevant, but the words “link juice” just sound gross, don’t they? There are better ways to communicate this concept. Try using “link value” instead. If you create great content that others pick up, or if a contextually relevant site links to you naturally (with the incentive of great destination content), then all of your SEO efforts will fall into place. Talk about links in terms of strength and value, and leave the juice in your fridge.
3. Link building – The time has come for us to move past “building” links and toward growing or nurturing them through honest, legitimate interaction. The concept of “link building” for SEO purposes violates our golden SEO rule above. Create great content that services the needs of your audience, then create awareness and distribution strategies that seed the digital ecosystem. Take feedback from the audience, optimize, and repeat. Link building in traditional terms implies creating tactical, short-term plans to manipulate the search engines. The future involves building and leveraging your community and creating your marketing materials based on them, not the search engines.
4. Infographics – These are meant to be graphics that convey difficult or abstract data in a new way. An infographic is not a picture. An infographic is not a re-print of data using colored fonts. An infographic is a visual representation of data meant to help the user decipher that data. Not to sound like a broken record, but think great content. If data visualization fits into the strategy, then pursue that strategy! If not, please don’t use the word – even Matt Cutts is warning about this in his recent interview with Eric Enge.
5. PageRank – The problem isn’t the term itself but the religious watching of PageRank and the desire to improve it regardless of how your more actionable metrics are impacted. PageRank isn’t a goal, it’s an indicator (and not a great one at that). If you’re looking for metrics to include in reporting, focus on something that more closely correlates with an improvement in your overall business goals. If you’re still obsessed with off-page strength, use MozRank – as an indicator it’s decidedly more telling and accurate.
6. (Not Provided) – Not that we need to stop talking about it, but we need to stop complaining about it. It’s here and it’s not going anywhere, so don’t complain about wanting it back. Find ways to extrapolate this data, such as using Webmaster Tools and the Google Analytics Content report, and develop your strategies accordingly.
7. Meta keywords – Just. stop. talking. about. these.
8. Panda - It happened. We all know about it. If a client doesn’t know about it, quite frankly, they don’t give a shit. Google makes upwards of 500-600 algorithm updates every year and will continue to iterate on this particular update as it finds new ways to improve. Let’s move on.
9. Yahoo! – No one really misses this old friend, but reporting on or discussing Yahoo! rankings is silly given the Yahoo!/Bing marriage.
10. SEO is Dead – We’ve all heard this one. As long as people use search engines and there are natural results within them, SEO won’t die. What people mistake for dying is simply change or the evolution of SEO. Even Forbes posted an article on this topic last week; but the author somehow failed to realize that he wasn’t describing the death of SEO (meaning organizations wouldn’t, or couldn’t, optimize their sites for better results), but, rather, a more brand and PR-focused approach spanning the digital ecosystem in a way that engages the intended audience.
Sources: http://www.promotionworld.com/Tags: Link Bait, Link building, Link Juice, LINKS, Ning, SEO, Seo is dead, Seo specialist, WEB, Yahoo