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The Future of SEO


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#41 rmccarley

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 11:50 AM

I have to say usability is definately beyond the scope of SEO.

...Unless it is *just* "usabilty for spiders" (which is a great line, may I steal it?)

But SEO doesn't actually have anything to do with humans! You can build an ugly site that ranks well. You can set up navigation that is clean and clear to a spider that baffles a human viewer.

Uncommon sense says not to do these things but I see it all the time. And it has nothing to do with SEO.

#42 Scratch

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 12:11 PM

Back to the original post...

Looking forward the reliance on search is likely to dwindle. Blogs, shared content, community building, and social bookmarking are taking over. Search traffic, while still important, will not be the primary focus for web site owners intent on getting the best return on their investment as multi-faceted strategies for online success evolve.

I absolutely agree that SEO will decline, and search engines will decline (or change form).

SEO will decline because, as search engines get better, the gap won't need to be filled. At the most basic level, I think that search engines have evolved about as far as they can in the current incarnation. That is, in indexing all information on equal terms. Google embodied a new breed at that time, and now I really can't split Google, MSN or Yahoo on quality. They're all doing a great job on the original problem.

The next phase of search engine technology will involve addressing different questions. It won't be about trying to read the content and relevance of web content, which will be accessed through a single point (the search box). In the near future, it will be about providing easy powerful ways for us to find what we want, from a common starting point. It won't be a search box, and it won't address the entire index. It will have to specialise to some extent, and intelligently try to add value by working out what it is I'm really asking.

Google Base is one interesting step forward, which I've written about on my blog. It's moving away from the old model and appreciating that some popular kinds of information can be streamlined (e.g. buying & selling cars, looking for a date). I don't think Google Base does a great job yet, but it will certainly damage a few big players in certain specific industries (e.g. cars & dating).

[moderator edit: fixed broken link]

Edited by Respree, 30 December 2005 - 12:27 PM.


#43 randfish

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 12:24 PM

I have to say usability is definately beyond the scope of SEO.

...Unless it is *just* "usabilty for spiders" (which is a great line, may I steal it?)

But SEO doesn't actually have anything to do with humans!  You can build an ugly site that ranks well.  You can set up navigation that is clean and clear to a spider that baffles a human viewer.

Uncommon sense says not to do these things but I see it all the time.  And it has nothing to do with SEO.

RMC - I'm going to have to disagree. Anything (and everything) that has to do with getting a website more popular and more linked to has a relationship with SEO. In my mind, this is exactly what separates higher price SEOs from the low and middle range (no offense intended - just an observation). Higher priced SEOs are often called in to projects to take an overarching look at everything that affects or can affect rankings - usability is a HUGE part of that.

Also, to say that SEO has nothing to do with humans is blasphemy to me. Links are made by humans, search engines exist to serve humans - serve humans well on your site and you'll encourage links, encourage bookmarking, tagging, sharing with friends and everything else that makes for a great natural link building and SEO campaign.

In many cases, I think the complete opposite is true - build a site for humans, not for search engines and even if it lacks some SE friendliness, if it attracts visitors and links, it will succeed in the SERPs. I'm not saying an SEO doesn't have to know all of the basics, I'm just saying that the SEOs who consult with big firms and big webdev teams need to know much more than just title tags, keyword research and SE-Friendly URLs - they have to know how to build a great site and market it.

#44 Nadir

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 12:47 PM

Ruud, Elizabeth, I agree. Yes, marketing a website is not just about SEO - and not "SEO is Internet Marketing, that means, it includes usability, web design, programming etc".

No for me, SEO is a separate subject that GOES (or Has to go) with all the external components that will allow you to reach a great ROI.

My concern is just about people saying that, now, SEO is just more than rankings. The semantics kind of bothers me. SEO is what is is: improving rankings in the search engines.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a set of methods aimed at improving the ranking of a website in search engine listings. The term also refers to an industry of consultants that carry out optimization projects on behalf of clients' sites.
....

High rankings in the organic search results can provide targeted traffic for a site. Obtaining that traffic by other means can potentially be expensive. For particularly competitive terms, the cost per click can run several dollars, or more, when pay per click advertising or banner advertising are used. For even moderately competitive terms the cost can range from a few cents to several tens of dollars per visitor. Given those costs, it often makes sense for site owners to optimize their sites for organic search.


This is the definition that Wikipedia gives, you can contest and say that it is not the official definition of SEO, then what it is? Where is the official definition of SEO? Any university papers on that? No, SEO is what we have been doing to get better rankings.

Now, times has come for most of people to realize that getting a good ranking was not sufficient. The competition became so tough, more sites are optimized, that we have to look in some other aspects to improve our sales and to set us apart from the competition.
That's when we look into web usability, web design, implementing CSS to make pages easier to load etc. We now focus more on the USER.

For people who are still saying that SEO is a whole, and it's not just about rankings, let me give you an example.

I have a car that is really good and I'd like to sell it. I decide to display a piece of paper in front of my house with my information on it, but after a week, no one contacted me yet, it might be because I live in a remote area and no one saw it.

My friend always sells car, he told me that if I go to Autotrader and post my add, I will have much more exposure and I am more likely to sell my car within 2 days. That's true, after only a few hours, many people contacted me and they are interested! great! <<<<< This is the SEO part.

But wait, I really want to make money this time and I don't want to sell my car in its basic condition, if I do another paint job, I sure can get more money and make the guy happy. I call my friend and he hooked me up for a paint job for 300 bucks, cool. My friend is a good car painter, he knows which colors people like these days. So he do the job, I repost in Autotrader, and ask for 600 bucks more: people come and see the car and they are amazed, they really like the yellow color and are ready to pay the price! <<<<< This is the Web Design part.

Ok, hold on a second, I cannot sell this car yet, man, it's a manual transmission and many people told me that they found my car hard to drive. It drives good, it's just hard to drive. Ok, you know what, I have a friend who is the best mechanics in our State, I give him a call and he tells me that yes, he can convert the manual tranny to an auto! Cool, so we do it, I repost my ad, and yeah people who came last time sayd they prefer the auto transmission now! Nice! <<<<< This is the Usability Part.

Man, you know what, I 'm not sure about the price that I'm willing to sell my car for. So, I look up on the Internet, check the KBB, go in town to see what people are asking for for my kind of car (with all its fancy stuff). Ok, they all sell it about X dollars, fine I 'll do the same, around X dollars. <<<<< This is the Marketing Part

Ok sow today I sold my car and got X dollars in my pocket. I'm very happy because if I didn't do all these improvements, I would have made less money, so thank you the mechanics, thank you the guy who did the paint job, thanks everyone!

So, was it just because if posted my car on Autotrader (which we'll compare to SEO) that I sold my car? Of course not, that's because of all these elements that I made more money (better ROI). So how should we call that? Car improvement? Car repair? Car design? Nope, it's a whole!

So for those who are saying that SEO is usability, web design etc... don't underestimate yourself: call yourself Internet Marketer! SEO is just one part, it can work by itself, sure, but adding a few components to it make your job easier and allow you to get a better ROI, a better brand awareness and so on.

Edited by Nadir, 30 December 2005 - 01:35 PM.


#45 Mano70

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 01:01 PM

I have to agree with rmc here and Nadir. SEO hasn't anything to do with humans, and that's why the SEO-word should be buried in the context people are trying to use it now.

The SEO word doesn't cover

- accessibility for humans
- usability for humans
- readability (writing keyword rich texts can be about readability, but not in the name of SEO)
- making semantic websites
- making a website that converts into sale (if that is the purpose)

The only thing the SEO-word covers is Search Engine Optimization (better ranking), and that has nothing to do with humans.

#46 rmccarley

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 01:06 PM

In many cases, I think the complete opposite is true - build a site for humans, not for search engines and even if it lacks some SE friendliness, if it attracts visitors and links, it will succeed in the SERPs.

That's true, but the rest of your post is about SE Placement and marketing - not necessarily SEO. Once a site is "optimized" you should be able to just get out of the way - but that isn't the reality! We all know you have to continue adding content and BLs to keep and improve your position, but this isn't optimizing, it's improving. It's positioning. It's marketing!

SEO is part of the foundation of a great web site. After all, if people can't find it, the site is no good. But SEO is a small part of the bigger picture: marketing. As the SEs eliminate the need for "human tactics" to find and index pages and to return relevant results the role of SEO will be relegated to tasks within that larger picture.

There are some real interesting dynamics going on:

1. SEOs can't agree on where SEO *stops*
2. SEs are getting better at finding and indexing information
3. SEs are evolving into personalized/demographic search - most SEOs are not prepared for this
4. Search is being integrated into new mediums
5. Reliance on search as we have known it is at it's peak as it has replaced offline (yellow pages, etc.) sources and brought online sources together
6. Search will become integrated and transparent
7. Online communities are already having a strong influence on search and as they branch out and secure their systems against rigging their influence will become greater
8. Online communities provide a practical alternative for search reducing reliance on it

So, if you take your car to a window tinter do you want them to rebuild your carburetor? Probably not. While they work on cars that doesn't make them qualified to do *everything*. At some point you have to say the window tint guy isn't a mechanic.

To say SEO is about building online communities and ensuring usability, etc. isn't really true. That's the job description of a web master. And someone can be a master of SEO while sucking at taking care of a site or providing something of real value. We usually call them spammers.

The SEs themselves want to eliminate SEO as much as possible. Considering their talent, funding and track record, I say this will be reality.

When it comes to demographics versus KW optimization most of today's SEOs will wash out. Demographic research is simply beyond the scope of what they know or are willing to learn. When the majority no longer fits the definition is the majority wrong, or the definition?

As search evolves it will become just part of other things. It will be a service more than a destination.

My site was listed on Technorati's home page as Y! happened to be crawling it. Site traffic jumped immediately. And my SERPs at Y! jumped as well. And all for about 3 hours! Once Y! recrawled Technorati and saw my site wasn't listed there anymore everything went back to normal. This, along with a similar experience with Digg, showed me just how valuable these sites are now as perceived by the SEs, and how valuable they can be for site owners.

Search can't replace the human element or relationship. I don't care if Google (Froogle?) tells me the $10 widget is where its at if I can get an opinion from *you*.

#47 randfish

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 02:30 PM

I have to agree with rmc here and Nadir. SEO hasn't anything to do with humans, and that's why the SEO-word should be buried in the context people are trying to use it now.

The SEO word doesn't cover

- accessibility for humans
- usability for humans
- readability (writing keyword rich texts can be about readability, but not in the name of SEO)
- making semantic websites
- making a website that converts into sale (if that is the purpose)

The only thing the SEO-word covers is Search Engine Optimization (better ranking), and that has nothing to do with humans.

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I have to disagree, again. I think that SEO, in its most basic form, means better rankings. Better rankings involves much more than just a technically optmized site. By its very definition, SEO (and higher rankings) encompasses anything and everything that can boost rankings, meaning anything that get links. The only part that isn't technically SEO, although the argument could still be made, is higher conversion rates.

I just don't see how you can logically separate things that go into getting natural links from SEO... It's part and parcel to me.

#48 rmccarley

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 02:44 PM

That's because you are a marketing guru, dude! :applause:

That is what comes naturally to you. I think you are hung up on the term SEO because it's how you came up but you moved past that a while ago.

SEO = Square
Marketing = Rectangle

The marketing requirement is to get the most traffic and conversions. SEO serves that but is not it. Take your Newsweek appearance and responce where you have purchased banner ads to drive traffic to a site. You knew those ads would be devalued by Google, but you bought them anyway. That's not SEO.

Now we could really stretch things and say someone gets to the site through one of those ads and decides to link to it because it really does rock and now it's SEO again. But bro, that is quite a strech.

There is a point where SEO stops and promotion starts.

Another example, say I buy a yellow page ad qand list the site URL in it. Is that SEO? Of course not - print doesn't help your SERPs. Now say that yellow page company decides to add an online directory and they include the site URL in my listing. Is this back-handed SEO?

It all gets a bit silly to justify some of this as SEO when it's just old fashioned marketing with an online kick!

#49 randfish

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 02:52 PM

So, in my definition, as long as the "intent" is about growing rankings, it still fits into SEO. Those banner ads that GG devalued still provide rankings at Yahoo! and MSN, so they're SEO. If I build an ad campaign with the intent of attracting buyers to the site, that's promotion, but if I create it with the intent of driving bloggers and site owners who are likely to link, that's SEO. I see your point, though. Some aspects of Internet marketing don't fit into SEO. My point is simply that all of the items that are intended to boost rankings, should be considered to fall under the umbrella.

Edited by randfish, 30 December 2005 - 02:52 PM.


#50 WeRASkitzzo

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 03:45 PM

Randfish, I think I would have to agree with you on this one. While a press release might traditionally fall into the marketing category, if the intent is to gain links to your site then I think it should fall under the umbrella of SEO. We've been having a discussion about this at SEOrefugee too and I seemed to be outnumbered over there. Glad to see someone else is thinking like I am. I am sure our discussion has echoed many of the points brought up over here but here is a link to our discussionin case you want to read it too... I wish I had gotten in on this discussion earlier. Guess I need to spend more time over here too ;-)

#51 Mano70

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 03:47 PM

We have a different approach to this Randfish. My approach is how can I make this website accessible and user friendly? The bonus on that part are SE's. If I have understood you correct, your approach is starting out with thinking of the SE's, and the bonus part will be a more accessible and user friendly website. The result is probably almost the same, except that there are many things that could (and should) be done with a optimized website which won't be done in the name of SEO. SEO will fix some problems, but it won't fully repair all of them. That's why I'm saying that SEO doesn't cover accessibility, usability, readability and semantic websites, even if SEO may make some parts of this better.

But, what you are trying to do is in one way good since you are adding more quality into the term, there are plenty of no-brainer companies selling SEO in the most simple form.

Edited by Mano70, 30 December 2005 - 03:52 PM.


#52 randfish

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 04:57 PM

Mano - Excellent point. Sometimes optmizing for SEs doesn't cover all the bases in the other areas. I can certainly see how a limited worldview could hurt your ability to do the best possible job in each arena.

#53 eKstreme

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 05:22 PM

Jumping in timidly late into the discussion...

I've been thinking about what SEO will entail in the future, and I think the keyword here is "natural". Let me explain:

Matt Cutts, and pretty much everyone, always say write naturally. Don't sound like a robot. To add to this theme, when you're getting backlinks, you're supposed to vary the link text... to make it look natural. Over-optimization is not what a human-produced page should look like.

So in short, the model of an "ideal page" to Google is: a page written by a human being and is linked to by lots of other pages produced by humans.

Getting human-produced backlinks would probably occur at a certain rate, probably proportional to the Page Rank. After all, the PR is a measure of the probability of finding a page at random; so if you know that x% of viewers typically link back to a page, then you can estimate the rate at which a new page would pick up backlinks. If the rate is too high, you'd probably trip a spam filter - sandbox, anyone?

The human-backlinks will also come from many different C-class IP blocks. That's because >99% of all other websites are not using your host, but are on different C-class blocks.

That's why, I think, link exchanges are now frowned upon: they do not constitute a "natural" link. Google considers backlinks to be a vote of confidence on the part of the linking page. If you do link exchanges, then you're upsetting this natural "democratic" process. It's not a random event, like a one way spontaneous backlink.

We can also consider what the title of the ideal page would be: it would describe the page's contents. Humans write good titles for the papers/reports/articles they produce, and web pages are no different.

Digging deeper, we can look at the page structure of the ideal page: it would be structured by headings (H1-H6), and it would have paragraphs. Complicating this are web-specific stuff, like site navigation. The search engines have figured out those bits (didn't Matt claim that Google can identify the site navigation already?)

So, getting back to the thread's question: I think the future of SEO is a mixture of:

1. Good copywriting. Structured, good spelling, good grammar. I wouldn't be surprised if Google checks the grammar of web pages - it's a very good way to identify bot-generated ones. If Word and OpenOffice can do it, Google can ;)

2. Technically good websites. That's easy to understand.

Sorry about the long post. This has been on my mind a lately :)

#54 AbleReach

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 06:54 PM

Unless it is *just* "usabilty for spiders" (which is a great line, may I steal it?

Sure, just give the forum a link. ;-)
Hey, give the thread a link! (Nice thread, btw.)

This is stimulating and well-rounded discussion on a contentious and potentially polarizing issue.

Elizabeth

#55 JohnMu

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 07:01 PM

Since I'm new to this game, I won't act like I know much of anything ;)

Going from eKstreme's theme: "think natural":

I think the future of SEO is just plain making "technically good websites". Everything else is unnatural.

A great copy? No misspellings? Correct grammer? sounds liks a sign that someone is trying to fool me... someone hired a copywriter to do the work for them... "unnatural". Oops, part of a text in german, part in english -- is that a misspelling or an act of culture? A website in Farsi - anyone have a spellchecker that works on all dialects? Think international -- whatever a SE implements must be valid all over the world, in all situations. I doubt they could try to push Swahilii websites through an English-Filter :)

Even a technically correct website could be seen as something unnatural in some ways. However, I think it is the sole basis that a website can be viewed by different types of viewers, be it a PC user, a mobile phone user, a Web-TV (do they still make that?), a seeing-impaired user, a blind user, a printer, a screen-reader, a search engine robot, etc. A technically correct website will let the content be discovered in all types of ways. A technically incorrect website will always generate problems for some visitors (searchengine or human) - and those problems are generally not the type of things that can be fixed by "guestimating" (like a spelling checker would - to guess at the proper keyword). If the content can't be properly sorted, it can't be analyzed at all. Sure, 99% of the sites don't validate now, but you can dream!

Also, I believe Google will never be able to distinguish between real natural links and unnatural ones. Is a begged-for link natural? Is a "product placement" link natural? I'm sure they can find 99% of the link farms (and they already do, to a great part), but all natural / unnatural links? I don't think so -- I don't think a human would be able to differentiate in many cases (remember, the better they work at finding them, the better the industry that depends on them works at disguising them). How about offering all bloggers $100 to write a review with a link about a new product?

Also, I think the speed-factor in generating back links could also be a "buzz factor". When I released one of the first Google Sitemaps generators, a link was sent in a few high-volume newsletters by people I don't know. All of a sudden, the same link, same anchor text, same text surrounding it was all over the blogs, 100's of them linked with the same text to me (copy + paste + act like it was your find). If Google discounts the fast-growing link numbers, then it will miss out on the "buzz". And I believe Google needs to play with all the buzz it can possibly find - if a new "really great" (not mine) website comes out and hits the "buzz" and is indexed on MSN / Yahoo first and blocked by a spam-filter on Google, guess who will look like they're slow? :) Of course it could be misused as spam - but only on sites that should be known to propogate spam links (Google should know them and discount them all the time).

Cheers
John

#56 meriweather

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 07:58 PM

Sorry about taking it personal last night, and getting way off topic (never knew I was so emotional about Google), but have been reading this thread since it was started, and it's been one of the most interesting ones I've followed. There are a couple of things in particular which have really hit a chord with me that I'd like to comment on.
Getting back to the thought provoking questions posed by rmccarly, and his article.

But will SEO as a profession last? I'm sensing a bubble, and I don't think I'm alone.

I too sensed that bubble, over a year ago, and am trying to evolve our company's efforts into a more overall marketing related consulting service.

Your quote from Skitzzo a.k.a. Benjamin Cook, pretty well sums up the approach we've been trying to take.

"SEO is almost more of a supervisory roll. I mean if you are directing a team of web designer and a copywriter you are still doing SEO but you aren't doing any of the grunt work.

We've included an even wider interpretation, based on the expertise of our principals which include business planning, strategy, sem, pr, alliance building (sounds so much better than link building), the optimization of the structure and content of the site with conversions as the primary aim, and put it under the banner of Internet Consulting. The funny thing is that up until about a year ago I'd have argued my head off with anyone who even implied that I wasn't an SEO, and most of my customers have come from local, face to face, word of mouth sources.

The biggest change I've seen is that the SE's have become more and more sophisticated which has, in turn required the SEO's to become more and more sophisticated, which has . . . is there a pattern here?

Its not really just enough to make sure pages just get "in the index" and I don't see it as search manipulation to try and get pages to rank higher, its just marketing.

With all due respect to certain of this forums members and staff, whom I have come to admire greatly for their wit and wisdom, I've always seen SEO as a form of manipulation, as is the external workings of marketing in general. I just don't have an aversion to the word manipulation.

  Try and keep up to date on two or more areas, and one or more of those areas of your knowledge will suffer.

I'd agree with that, if we were talking about a mechanical engineer being a medical doctor in his spare time. As it is, everything that has to do with a web site, interior, exterior, conventional marketing, the entire Internet itself needs to be taken into account by one claiming to do SEO. The whole concept of the Internet is one of vastness and inclusion, nothing happens without it having some kind of an effect on everything else.

The basics of SEO come down to trying to understand how search engines work, and not how they tell you that you should behave with their guidelines.

Exactly!

It's been my belief since the get-go that the Internet provided the last opportunity (and the first) for ordinary people to be heard above the roar of the huge power and money conglomerates which already use any tactic which they can pay for to get the attention and loyalty of the consumer. What this means to me is that in order to beat them I've got to be less reluctant to innovate, more inventive, and a whole lot less constrained by anyone's guidelines but my own. Laws, of course are a different matter. :)

If SEO continues to progress the way it has been, I believe we're going to start seeing a lot of work in areas like Public Relations, Marketing, Advertising and Content Creation.

copywriting... Our current site was based on this philosophy. It had become apparent to us that the 'good ol days' of tweaking with the code, keyword stuffing, endless hours of directory submitting, and link acquisition, just for the sake of having more than anyone else, were things of the past.

What is SEO without usability? I have this soap box called "SEO is usability for spiders."

I like that. Sorry the coffee hadn't kicked in yet - your posts are usually spot on.

I think that this idea, and the ones that supported it (me too), go a long way towards validating both of the views which I think I see being expressed here. I see a semantics head on collision brought about, if I may be so bold as to postulate, by the insistence of some of us to refer to the subject at hand as SEO. While some of us would prefer to speak of it as some other, yet to be defined, specialty of marketing.

I think the reason I've found this thread to be so interesting is that I too am in a quandary when trying to say exactly what I do. Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about over lunch with a client. I'm talking about late at night when the writing is starting to bog down, and the words are starting to crawl instead of flow.

If I say I'm an SEO, does that mean I can't do some copywriting for fun and profit? What about designing a site, if the mood strikes, and the money's right? How about advising on a Pay-Per-Click campaign in a field that I've done a lot of research on for several clients? What if I actually want to write the adds myself?

But! If I say I'm an Internet Marketer, does that mean I have to call in someone else every time I want to optimize a page? What about robots.txt, canonical issues, .htaccess and other standard webdev protocols? Do I really have to call on a PR firm when I have 2 people in the office that are proven experts at it, with a list of contacts that most PR firms would kill for?

Does having an understanding of all these varied, but all related to the Internet issues make me somehow less effective than someone who does only one of them? Could be, but in my IMHO the one thing that every Business/Website needs is one Business/Person who has a broad understanding of marketing, and all of the ins and outs of the Internet, who can plan out and liaise between the many and varied skill sets involved in the creation of a modern website.

Without changing the nature of this thread I'd love to know what someone who does this sort of thing would be called. It might be that my question and yours are much more closely related than they at first appear. ;)

#57 DianeV

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 09:17 PM

I like it, James. I think we had a similar discussion here a year or two ago: what would a designer/SEO/marketer be called?

The closest we came to a term was "holistic web design" -- but, of course, not only does that not mean anything at all to most people in the industry, but it means precisely nothing to the public at large.

So here we are, a year or two down the road, with the same question. :)

Edited by DianeV, 30 December 2005 - 09:17 PM.


#58 EGOL

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 11:45 PM

1. SEOs can't agree on where SEO *stops*


Lots of reasons for that... but the biggest is their depth of vision.

#59 worldisavampire

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 11:59 PM

You guys are Internet Presence Engineers

#60 rmccarley

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 03:18 AM

I thought of a couple tag lines, at least...

SEO, because "web master" wasn't confusing enough!

or

SEO: what we call marketing online!

Going by the definitions Rand and Co. offered, SEO is anything done that might effect a site's position in the SERPs. Not only is that broad, but it's also short-sided. Because why do you care if your site gets high SERPs?

Traffic.

Do we limit ourselves to just SE traffic?

Heck no!

Do we stop when the traffic gets to the site?

No way. That's when we push for conversions.

I mean, pick the job description that you want, but understand that a lot done in the name of SEO is beyond SEO.

If I say I'm an SEO, does that mean I can't do some copywriting for fun and profit? What about designing a site, if the mood strikes, and the money's right? How about advising on a Pay-Per-Click campaign in a field that I've done a lot of research on for several clients? What if I actually want to write the adds myself?

But! If I say I'm an Internet Marketer, does that mean I have to call in someone else every time I want to optimize a page? What about robots.txt, canonical issues, .htaccess and other standard webdev protocols? Do I really have to call on a PR firm when I have 2 people in the office that are proven experts at it, with a list of contacts that most PR firms would kill for?

Therin lies the crux. I say if you are a marketer you can write your own copy, expand your efforts to PPC or evangelize through the press. I say SEO is a function of marketing, just like advertising, PR, trade shows, etc.

#61 AbleReach

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 05:27 AM

Lots of reasons for that... but the biggest is their depth of vision.

Cute!

An inclusive view gives SEO a future.
Excluding all but code smarts excludes quality content.
The stricter definition of of SEO will not stick, or a new name will be brought in for what SEO does, because without quality content there is not a quality site.
If smart people who like to write content (ahem) are interested in SEO, dang, they'll want & need to do a job that's going to bring in results, not just hits. They'll either want a new name for their job, or an expansion of the much-debated definition of "true" SEO.

The specifics of SEO will change as technology changes and as those who hire SEOs become more educated. My definition of SEO is more function than any specific form - if it helps bring in results via search engines, it's SEO. Show them the business, get them in the door, help them find what they want. "SEO" is an oddly formed name for how to get there. The fact of what needs to happen to make SEO worthwhile is more than the label of SEO.


Search Experience Optimizing?

Elizabeth

#62 WeRASkitzzo

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 10:31 AM

I think AbleReach brings up a very good point. With the job I am currently in, I am being evaluated by the number of sales from the website etc. The only problem is that the websites design and content pretty much sucks in my eyes (just ask a few of the members here, they will tell you, its horrible). Anyway, so, even though I have increased the traffic from SE's every month since I started, the company views it as a failure because the extra traffic isnt bringing in all that many more sales. To me, defining success is the hardest part of SEO. If you only focus on SE traffic like I do and have little to do with the copy and even less to do with the design, is that still SEO? I say yes. In fact, I'd say thats SEO at its most basic stage. Now, that type of SEO is what I could see disappearing down the line. People realize that to use SEO efforts successfully, you need to allow the SEO to have input on anything and everything that touches the world wide web. Thats why I said that ideally SEO is more of a supervisory role. Using that definition, whether it is a good one or not, I dont see that job losing its relevance any time soon.
</cent type="my 2">

#63 bwelford

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 11:17 AM

I did try to float a definition of SEO as Selling Effectiveness Optimization a year or two ago, but it didn't generate any apparent interest. :(

#64 worldisavampire

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 01:08 PM

I thought of a couple tag lines, at least...

SEO, because "web master" wasn't confusing enough!

or

SEO: what we call marketing online!

Going by the definitions Rand and Co. offered, SEO is anything done that might effect a site's position in the SERPs.  Not only is that broad, but it's also short-sided.  Because why do you care if your site gets high SERPs?

Traffic.

Do we limit ourselves to just SE traffic?

Heck no!

Do we stop when the traffic gets to the site?

No way.  That's when we push for conversions.

I mean, pick the job description that you want, but understand that a lot done in the name of SEO is beyond SEO. 
Therin lies the crux.  I say if you are a marketer you can write your own copy, expand your efforts to PPC or evangelize through the press.  I say SEO is a function of marketing, just like advertising, PR, trade shows, etc.

View Post



why not look at SEO as a coding language?

If you make a separate tag line for yourself such as IPE(internet presence engineer, or whatever you want) then a job posting would be like this :

Looking for a IPE with 5 years exp!
-min 2-3 yrs of SEO(keywords, anchoring, backlinking)
-min 1yr of google expertise(adsense, adwords, keyword bidding)
-3yrs yahoo(standard stuff?)
-skilled in porn banners (or whatever! :( )


Because SEO as a term, may become useless. It could die out, just like any coding language. But, something will replace it for sure. And also this way your main job tag never dies out just as the term "marketing" has never died eventhough it has transitioned from newspaper to TV. And I think some of the other categories, like "google expert" could last forever.

But, it's also possible you guys will just be marketers, or Marketing at a University level will include all the above topics in a few years.

I'm a newbie, but this is what I see with an outside look.

#65 cre8pc

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 03:34 PM

I'm not sure how much of this some of you may be noticing, but based on the kinds of inquiries I get, web site owners or employees of company websites are pretty well informed about the status of their present SEO situation. From the perspective of understanding that they need help, that is. They know they need help with rank and indexing basics. These things are really important to them.

Then, in the next paragraph, they start asking me about the usability side of things. They're watching their traffic and studying stats. They know their conversions are bad and they blame it on their SEO efforts first, and then lack of knowledge of the user centered design side.

There's a lot of things a web site owner has to be concerned with and I think some of them are looking for SEM's who have gone past the engine mechanics and limited results of PPC/PPI. They're looking for human connections and how to make them.

This is where the extended value of usability and accessibility start to add hope for them. Copywriting too. And even instruction on devices like blogs, RSS, developing landing pages and writing articles or press releases.

So, what I'm saying, is there will be a need for each step of the search engine inclusion process, beginning with baseline SEO. But, many of you are finding that your clients want more from you and this need is changing your job description. Your clients, well, some of them anyway, are more interested in long term success rather than a brief roll in the rank and PR hay.

Some SEO's are adding more members to their team to provide more services, such as the usability or web site functional testing or accessibility reviews or landing page development add-ons.

I agree its hard to know what to call yourselves when you begin offering a full range of services. I think it's a great plus to advertise that you are interested in the long term overall success of your client's site, and that includes how SE's and people respond to them.

I think the role you play is changing because clients are demanding changes and their needs are changing. I view it as a positive vibe for you if you can expand what you do and take advantage of this demand.

#66 Black_Knight

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Posted 01 January 2006 - 07:54 AM

I think you are talking about search marketing and not *just* SEO. SEO at it's basic level just makes a site receptive to the SEs. It doesn't have as much to do with ranking as indexing. Getting better SERPs is often considered SEO but really when you are doing things out of the Guidelines, like getting BLs, you aren't letting the site stand on its own merits and that is manipulation.

Don't get me wrong - I don't think there is anything wrong with it. I do think it's beyond the intention of SEO.

Actually, getting the highest possible rankings is absolutely the origin of the term SEO. SEO was always about the SERPs, which is why I have never called myself an SEO.

All the stuff about quality of traffic is a refinement still within the field of SEO. Anything that is beyond the SERPs is beyond the remit of SEO. Even paid search went beyond what SEO could properly encompass, and lead to Detlev and Danny championing a broader phrase of SEM. SEO became a sub-set of SEM.

However, both were still all about the SERPs pages, and have never truly covered conversions, apart from solely how conversions are influenced at the SERPs end of the equation (i.e. that more targeted search phrases convert better, or that more traffic equals more sales).

The minute you deal with site-side actions and processes that do not directly affect SERPs positioning, you are stepping beyond the remit of SEO, beyond SEM, and firmly into the broader areas of online marketing and online sales.

Which is why my title has been "Internet Marketing Consultant" since the latter half of the Nineties.

The problem is simply that SEO is a nice catchy term, and a bandwagon that lots of people want to jump on. So people who are not SEOs by any true definition, whether or not they do SEO activities, keep calling themselves SEOs.

The future of SEO? To continue to be integrated as a small part of a much more important bigger picture. Yet conversely it will continue to be misunderstood by people who want to latch on to 'one single magic bullet' idea, instead of realising that the forrest is not any one tree.

#67 bigdoug

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Posted 01 January 2006 - 06:59 PM

Here is what I think, and I love all the opinions here as well.

http://www.seorefuge...rketer/#more-41

#68 Xenith

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 08:31 AM

it's late and I can't say I have read the entire thread, but -

internet marketing - seo - sem - will always evolve - everything does hopefully. The main trick is keeping up - remember all serps are different too.

It's gone way past basics these days, right down to usability, design, content addition/ articles and PR... it has become complex and keeping your finger on the pulse is getting harder, contacts are def your friend. If you don't have them then partner/employ someone who does - and is willing to teach you something.

/*offtopic*/
kensplace - always research your seo/sem/internet marketer before you start. A steep, but necessary learning curve...

all serps are not equal, your serps may change/clean up next update (hehe, I am sure you wish - I do as well sometimes - don't we all). I suspect your time may be best spent researching what works instead of whining about the two guys who have made one of the greatest enhancements to the online environment for quite a while : ) No G loving, just facts.

Also you must remember regardless of your 'local' serps Google is still the top search engine and may be so for quite sometime... What about the good ol days (serp quality) or G's competition - overall they don't even add up to G referrals - G is where the money is at, and not only for them ; ) An analogy I like to use is if you want a serp, your not going to go all out and show the competitors all your cards till you have to ; )

#69 crxvfr

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 02:06 PM

I have a unique perspective on all this. I would agree with a little of what everyone has said but I think mostly Egol nailed it with his field of vision observation. Its ultimately up to you and the way you see things. Let me explain.

I am in in-house SEO. Before I started doing what I'm doing, ...if our site was based on any keywords at all it was the name of the company. Only people that were looking for us could find us, and they were lucky if they did. They're idea of website promotion was running ads in the back of magazines for thousands of dollars a pop. The first year I optimized the website and got a bunch of links. Everything else was there as we are the industry leader on pricing (read - easy conversions). Almost two years later the website is generating nearly fifteen times monthly what it was when I started. We're now sitting on several #1 serps and dozens of top ten spots for different industry related phrases.

When I first started, everything I read evolved around reciprocal linking or links in general. Now my 2004 and 2005 has become the glory days in the way that I hear those before me talk about the years previous to that. Since those I work for have labeled me as the search engine optimizer, I look at the changes that are occurring and I see my job evaporating before my eyes. If they don't recognize what I do here as internet marketing, my job here is done. I may as well just show up and stare at the monitor.

I don't believe SEO is a concept rather than a career. I believe that SEO is a component of a the larger concept of marketing. Here at work, I don't have access to funds to spend on marketing, for I am the SEO. I'm the only one here that knows the web. Nobody here other than myself could even make an html webpage with a table or a link. As I see things changing the way they are, I anticipate the need to spend money on things like PPC's, banners, etc. if they want to continue expanding their customer base but I do not see the powers that be ever delegating that responsibility. Get the picture?

If my employers want me to continue expanding the customer base and using the internet to create revenue, that entails marketing which would cost money and require a budget. In my mind its kind of like the difference between a plumber and a general contractor. The contractor knows plumbing, but the plumber is a hired hand thats only responsible for the plumbing. The contractor is responsible for building the unit on time and under budget while the plumber is only responsible for installing the plumbing.

Without the marketing umbrella, an SEO is just an seo. Where you draw the lines is up to you, or your boss. Thats where I think Egols comment rings true.

I also believe that if SEO is the only thing you do, yea, I can see where you wouldn't think it involves people. I lean towards Randfish in that respect because you have to write copy that works well with spiders AND people, like cre8pc said.

SEO is a component of marketing, and marketing involves humans and human nature.

(good intro on the Article BigDoug - printing it for my managers)

Edited by crxvfr, 06 January 2006 - 02:32 PM.




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