90 Seconds or Less: How SEO Got Into This Mess (And How It’ll Get Out)
When it comes to writing, less is more. In 90 seconds, here’s how SEO got into this mess and how I think it’ll get out.
1. Early search algorithms are easy to game.
2. Businesses slowly wise up to $EO, creating a market.
3. Few skills are needed to succeed for copycats & “me-toos”. Opportunists with little marketing experience move in.
4. Rankings, traffic are primary SEO metrics. Rankings become synonymous with SEO; services are sold on this premise. SEO is perceived as tech work lumped in with “online marketing” – little marketing is actually done.
2002 – 2010: The Golden Era
5. Google’s algo has holes they can’t fix short-term. Warning shots are fired via PR and TOS. Content is supposed to be king, links are. Few punishments happen.
6. Link signals are easy to game; success can be systematized (so it is). Few clients know enough to investigate work quality.
7. Competitive SERPs become a linking arms-race, creating an industry-wide mindset of quickly scaling link building. Industry becomes addicted to “tactics”.
2011: Google’s Warpath Begins
8. JC Penny & others disgraced for bad SEO.
9. Panda hits. Content is suddenly important again.
10.Penguin slams link schemes. Industry loses primary ranking source.
Clients start asking questions.
SEO’s New Golden Cow: Content Marketing (CM)!
11. Major industry channels (Moz, Hubspot, etc.) put emphasis on CM; try renaming SEO “Inbound marketing” to change perception.
12. SEO’s mistakenly interpret CM as “new link building”; rely on “great content” and business’ activities to create link opportunities. Most don’t see success, because…
Few SEO’s have marketing backgrounds or run their businesses like a marketing firm.
13. Attempts are made to shove CM into the “scale & automate” box of SEO. Mass guest-post schemes ensue. Google announces crackdowns.
14. Once sold as a service, SEO’s now need partnership status & marketing buy-in. Public perception of SEO is stuck in 2002; so are most teams’processes.
The tactics-addicted industry slowly realizes strategy & creatives are important, but has a hill to climb.
Opinion: The Future
15. (Not provided) destroys keywords as a reporting metric, Knowledge graph obliterates rankings. SEO’s must find new metrics, but clients expect to be reported to this way. F-f-friction.
16. Marketing firms seize opportunity to build digital teams & acquire talent. Basic tenants of SEO are easier to learn than marketing skills & strategy; firms already have buy-in, creatives & processes.
17. Several poorly-run SEO firms close up shop because they can’t evolve in a strategy-based era.
18. Successful firms move away from selling SEO as an independent service, begin marketing holistic online marketing strategies with SEO treated as a tie-in/consideration for other marketing objectives.
AND WE’RE DONE!
Agree? Disagree? Use the comments below to wave your pitchforks or sing your praises.
By the way, I’m a freelance writer lookin’ to pick up some work – so if you like my style, check me out!