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Thursday, February 22, 2024

More Rounds In The "Is SEO Overrated" Debate

The "Is SEO Overrated Or Rocket Science" debate continues. Sigh. OK, I give
up. I guess we have to have this every two or three years. All the arguments I’m
reading, I’ve read (or made before). But maybe that’s healthy in an industry
where you always have new people coming in. I’ll give you the rundown on the
latest leaders that are weighing in. And yes, it will be a kick-butt debate I’m
also going to do for our first Search
Marketing Expo
this June. Kevin, Todd, Greg, Mike, Jeremy: I’ll be coming
for you and others! For now, let’s see what they and others have been saying.

Yes Virginia, SEO Is
Rocket Science – Defending Search Engine Optimization Once Again
was my
rundown from last month on how the current debate got started, along with many
too long arguments from myself on the issue. Well, sometimes I like to rant.

Did-It’s Kevin Lee
came back
into the debate, which I covered in my
Defending SEO, Yet
article. I was left pretty unconvinced but said I’d hang in there to
see what his second part might do.

SEM and SEO: Rocket Science or Just Plain Science? Part2
at ClickZ from
Kevin was that second part that came out last week, the one with the numbers.
The numbers didn’t do that much for me. A higher percentage of people plan to
outsource "more than half" PPC spending compared to "the majority" of organic
spending. Already, we’re picking and choosing different numbers to compare,
which concerns me. But I won’t drill down into them more now, since relatively
few were cited. Instead, I’ll make time later to dig into some of these figures

SEO: Art, Science, Bollocks Or What?
at ClickZ from Mike Grehan has an organic guy next weighing in — and weighing
in as Mike has done before that "textbook SEO" is dead. Mike and I have done
this go around before. Textbook SEO is not useless when you consider how much
traffic it can drive in tail terms. I’ve already covered how my site
here doesn’t have
the reputation to pull in for top terms. But I’ve also covered
how "tail terms" —
generated off textbook SEO — sent another 3,000 visits that I didn’t have to
pay for.

I also keep coming back to the fact that what’s "textbook" or what’s simple
seems textbook or simple to people WHO ALREADY KNOW! That’s a big chunk of my
"Yes Virginia" article mentioned above, and Todd Friesen’s article that I’ll
mention below goes even further.

Bigger Question of SEO
at came out this at SearchDay with John Tawadros of
iPropsect — which does a big amount of organic work along with paid search — adding his voice. He’s mainly
pointing out that a search marketing agency does a lot more than tweak a bunch
of meta tags.

The SEO Debate Continues
from Gord Hotckiss comes in on the side that SEO
is going to get harder, less textbook, as personalized results arrive. Yes, I
agree. I’ve written about it for years, with probably the most recent look the
one I did on My Yahoo and trust networks
here. Part of
what I wrote:

We’ve had a generation of search engines that depended on on-the-page
factors such as word location and frequency. We’ve had a current second
generation that tapped into link analysis, looking at how people are linking
and what they say in links.

Personal search is that third generational jump, and Yahoo’s flavor of
personal search is a social network one that it hopes will improve relevancy
in web wide results in the way that link analysis helped drive back spam and
improve relevancy years ago.

And from my 2004
article on
search personalization:

The data is irresistible
because as I explained in my
Launches Personalized Social Search
article, it opens hundreds if not
millions of fronts in the search engine war against spam. It’s hard to spam a
search engine when the relevancy may be different for each individual person.

And even from 2001 about Google:

It’s possible that Google could
examine this datastream in the future, in order to further refine results en
masse for all users, via Outride’s technology, or to deliver more personalized
results to users who desire such customization.

Of course, Google does have

personalized results
now, if you enroll in them. And they can change the
results people see, making the idea of a across the board SEO impact slightly
harder. But by and large, people are still seeing pretty much the same stuff.
After years of waiting for this to change, I think it’s still not going to make
a radical change for at least a year or two.

Let’s say that does alter, however. SEO hardly dies. We’ve got local SEO,
mobile SEO, video SEO — you name the vertical, search is spreading everywhere.
But hey, it’s not rocket science to figure out all these places and determine
how they gather and rank content. Just a few hours reading and you’re set 🙂

OnPage SEO Is Garbage Clarification On Rockstars
from Jeremy Schoemaker
over at Shoemoney has him getting in on the debate action, seemingly to take the
"it’s bull" view at first but really diving into the reputation problem:

I just feel like whitehat SEO’s are like 21st century car salesmen. Lets
cut the bullshit for a minute. I find it funny when a whitehat seo tries to
engage me in a debate about seo morals…If blackhat seo is trying to alter
the search engines ranking of your website from what would naturally be then
your spammy ass urls are definatly not whitehat. Now I am not saying this is
wrong but I am saying in my opinion its suspect gray area.

Anyway if you want a real SEO ask them how many blackhat forums or sites
they read. If they tell you none then move on. They at least need to be
educated in the dark arts even if not practicing.

People are so scared to talk about this in the open for fear they will be
associated with “black hats

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