So, I’ve realised… it’s time for the death of SEO.
I’ve been running our own businesses for 17 years now:
- 9 Years of being a client of numerous SEO companies and Digital Marketing Agencies
- 8 years of running two Digital Marketing companies offering SEO services
There aren’t too many people in Australia, and indeed the world, that have more knowledge and experience with Digital Marketing and SEO than I do.
My latest epiphany: I truly believe it’s time for the demise of SEO
- I believe it’s in a business’ best interest that we no longer ‘do SEO’
- I believe it’s in the marketing industry’s best interest that SEO disappears
- I strongly believe it’s in SEO professionals’ best interest that SEO be killed off
I’m ready for the tirade of comments and trolls who are devout SEOologists, but it’s also time for us all to face the realities, to move on from SEO and craft a niche in the complimentary field of doing what you love to do (more on this at the end).
So, here are the facts about SEO
Confusion reigns supreme
When you ask someone “What is SEO?” Every single person on the planet will give you a different answer. When you pay somebody to do SEO, they all do different things and without a clear overriding mandate of what’s involved. Most customers don’t know what’s good SEO and what’s bad, and nearly all get a general feeling of unease – read ‘smoke and mirrors’.
- Doctors – they fix you
- Engineers – they build cool stuff (I do love engineers)
- Architects – they design things
- Solar Installers – they install solar panels
- SEO Specialists – “No idea what they actually do” is most people’s response
There is literally no other industry on the planet where this sense of confusion exists, and this drives really poor behaviour across the board (by both businesses and agencies).
SEO flies in the face of why Google exists
When you break it down to its essence, ‘doing SEO’ actually goes against the very thing that Google is trying to achieve. It’s the search engines mission to categorise the world’s information so that when you type something into the search box, it’s job is to show the most relevant, authoritative and expert website first, and so on down the list.
SEO is trying to short circuit/circumvent the system so that google places you in high esteem. And this is at the expense of long term results.
So it’s time to switch this up. Let’s work on turning you into the authoritative, relevant, expert business/individual that you are, and let’s stop trying to circumvent a system that is getting better by the day.
There are no standards at all in this industry – none, and that relates to point 1 above. This is because nobody really knows what goes into Google’s secret herbs and spices, hence there can’t be any standards, and you end up with a few bottom dwelling feeding sharks who add no value whatsoever and rip people off. This happens all whilst the good honest ones who know their sh^t, get lumped into the same boat.
Malcolm Gladwell was definitely onto something with his 10,000 hours of experience required – that’s what it takes to become a real expert. Yet you have ‘SEO experts’ with 3 months experience saying how they are going to skyrocket your revenue – that’s just not cool!
SEO is just tidying up other people’s mess, mistakes and laziness
This point is going to hurt the most.
Ultimately, SEO exists because other people haven’t done their jobs well. Every single SEO task I’ve ever seen needs to be done because other people aren’t doing their job correctly. Whilst this is a relatively new thing in the past 3-5 years as Google’s algorithm gets better and better, today SEO people are just tidying up other people’s mess and mistakes. For example:
- Onsite Work – means either the web developer hasn’t done their job correctly (which is all too common – sitemaps, robots, load speed, interlinking etc.) or content hasn’t been produced and uploaded well, which means your marketing/comms person needs to pull up their socks.
- Building Backlinks – No you don’t need to build backlinks! You need to market your business on the main business directories, you need to join and become active in your industry (and the respective websites), you need to get social and engage on social channels with your target audience. You need to sponsor the local footy/netball/chess team. You don’t need to build backlinks; you need a good marketing person to do better marketing and digital PR.
- Focus on 10 keywords – No you don’t need to focus on ‘10’ keywords. You need to know your target audience intimately, what information they are searching for online, answering every single possible question they may ask and adding so much value that you impress their socks off all through your website (and that’s your Marketing Department’s job). You need to do great content marketing.
So, if you just hire the right people to do the right work (and pay them well), SEO actually becomes redundant.
SEO is a lazy person’s marketing (and a lazy agency’s solution)
Because most businesses don’t understand it (primarily because the industry has created so much smoke and mirrors), here’s the chain of events that transpires:
- Business owners throw up there hands saying “This is too hard, can’t I just pay somebody to do it for me?”
- SEO cowboys come along and say “Sure, I’ll take your money. Outsource it all to me and I’ll make the problem disappear. I’ll get you on page 1 of Google, guaranteed! Trust me, I’m an expert”
- And so it just gets outsourced, with the expectation of results and value being delivered
- Most people think they can get results by circumventing the system (see point 2 above)
- That’s not doing good marketing and that’s certainly not doing good business
- Ultimately you haven’t earned the right to perform well in Google organic search
- You haven’t demonstrated you’re an authority in your industry
- You aren’t the expert at your craft
- You aren’t adding value to anybody
- You can’t expect Google to reward you for doing lazy marketing
Now please don’t get me wrong. There are certainly some good SEO people out there doing good work, but my experience is that they are few and far between.
No Barriers to Entry
There are no barriers to entry, which means any dog can do SEO (and indeed if my dog is as good at SEO as he is cute, he’ll be awesome at it). Speaking of which, I saw an ad on Facebook advertising an education course to take somebody from ‘Zero to SEO Hero in 90 days and make $150K per year’. That’s not cool! That doesn’t do anybody any good and just digs a bigger hole for the industry to get out of.
Digital Marketing is a hard game that takes real skill, it’s not something you can learn in 3 months and be an ‘expert’ – it takes 10,000 hours to be really good at it, just like anything else.
Lucky #7: “Doing SEO” actually doesn’t work
After researching over 1000 businesses, the data all shows that “Doing SEO” simply doesn’t work. It doesn’t work doing it in isolation. Just paying somebody $2K per month to “do SEO including create 4 blog posts for you” doesn’t work. It will not get you the results you want.
SEO doesn’t work when you have a mediocre website, when you outsource your content, when you treat digital marketing (and all your marketing for that fact) as an afterthought, in a half arsed approach. SEO is just a component that won’t work if the rest of your marketing isn’t working as it needs too.
SEO only works when your whole marketing is working as it should, when the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. When you know your target audience intimately and you continually add value to them. When your reviews are so good because your whole business is working like a dream.
I know what you (the SEO people that is) are going to say
I hear these arguments all the time:
- What about low word count on a page? Or low keyword density
- Broken links are important to fix
- Backlinking is still so important
- We need to be producing content with a word count of 1200 per page
- Blah blah blah…
Well, let me tell you something… Google doesn't give a sh^t!
Google really doesn’t. Its job is to:
- Analyse your business relative to your competitors
- Decide on which one is more important
- Decide which one is engaging with their audience better
- Decide which one is more authoritative
- Decide which one is contributing and adding to their industry more
- Decide which one is supporting the local community better
- Decide which one is marketing their business better
Do you know what Google does give a sh^t about?
Which business is marketing their business better!
That’s exactly what google is analysing and that’s exactly how they are going to rank you versus your competitors – it’s based on your marketing. Ultimately, SEO results are driven by how you market your business better than your competitors.
So how do you market your business better?
Now that’s a great question, and one I’m glad you asked. For I have the perfect answer for you:
Nothing more, nothing less. Your mission is to add the most value to the most people (e.g. your target audience, your industry, your staff, your customers). You need to help them, educate them, develop them, lead them, manage them and Google will reward you accordingly.
Word of warning: You don’t get to define what “value” is – that’s for your customers to decide.
Now, I told you I’d come back to this…
So, what does this all mean for the SEO experts out there? It’s time for you to quit your day job and do what you really want to do, what you were born to do and what you love doing. Have real clarity so that an everyday Tom, Dick and Harry can understand what you do, that has no smoke and mirrors, and most importantly, a role you are proud of. Removing all the ‘SEO’ bulldust, and that is to… find your digital marketing niche.
Rather than ‘doing SEO’, let’s do what you love to do in an ‘old school’ style career. For example:
|I love the onsite technical website aspects of SEO||Become a ‘Web Dev Analyser and Finisher’ (new position description I’ve just created) who goes through all websites and adds those amazing finishing touches that blows people’s socks off. Someone who dots the Is and crosses the Ts and ensures a great user journey throughout the site for all.|
|I love keyword research and mapping content to keywords||Become a Content Strategist who will ensure businesses add more and more value to all their stakeholders (this means creating content that adds value, and not create content for the sake of creating content).|
|I’m the backlinking king/queen||You’re now the Digital Marketing PR king/queen who helps share people’s gifts throughout the internet, and we are going to share great information with our target audience!|