Barry Schwartz highlighted a Twitter conversation at the Search Engine Roundtable where Bill Slawski asked
"Are people who write about SEO still important in SEO? Is SEO writing dead?"
The Twitter conversation provides varying opinions. One of the most common feelings are that most articles on SEO are poorly written or just plain inaccurate. I would add that the moment SEO is written about, it is already out of date. Books on SEO are always out of date. I have a freelance client who sits with me in meetings with her SEO book opened up, ready to prove me wrong at every suggestion I make. The book is years old and she is unwilling to accept that techniques change, as do search engine algorithms.
Bill is unique in that his writings are in-depth analysis on Google patents. He is also exceedingly trained in SEO and SEM and has been doing the work since the 1990's. This sets him apart from nearly everyone who writes on SEO today.
Someone in the conversation suggested that only those who did SEO in the 1990's truly understand the inner workings of this work and I agree with that. I feel that my working in the SEO field since the mid-1990's adds a depth of knowledge and history to my skills, and helps me to see how SEO relates to web design. Before the link craze, there was the math behind page rank that Chris Ridings wrote about that had SEO's competing for who knew the secret math behind the algorithm better.
Today, it is patents and people leaning on Bill's research to give them a peek at the future of search.
I find, as do many in the Twitter thread, that most writing about SEO is boring, redundant and often containing incorrect information.
Do we need SEO writing?
YES! All you need to do is to wander into any forums where SEO is a topic to see the questions, frustrations and experiences from people struggling to make their sites come up in search, battle penalties or learn how to implement even the basics. People come to forums after having been ripped off or hiring a company that got their website into huge trouble. This is evidence to me that not only are there dangerous articles on SEO out there, but more importantly, a real fear and lack of trust not only towards the SEO industry but whom to hire.
I have never seen an organization like SEMPO attempt to directly find ways to correct this situation, other than holding conferences that most people who own websites can afford to attend, let alone have the time.
Eric Enge and David Harry, and Doc Sheldon come to my mind regarding those who stepped up to provide SEO information - correct and current information - via Google Hangouts. Kudos to them for this. They have each been around for years and years and have the cred to do these video gatherings. MOZ and Internet Marketing Ninjas showcase thought leader writings, whereas other sites lean on newcomers breaking into the field.
Are we too polite in this industry?
I sometimes wonder if there should be more writing about the bad information out there. This is hard to do. I launched my career by writing about stupid SEO tricks and warnings about the lies, bad information and ripoffs out there. It was needed information but I was also attacked and threatened. I still, on occasion, get fed up and write but for the most part it feels like the warnings are ignored.
I feel Bill's questions. In my heart, I know he is asking questions because he cares deeply about the industry and the quality of information and practices performed by SEO's. If he were to stop writing, this would be a severe loss in my opinion.
Is writing about SEO worthwhile? Who do you trust? Why? What type of information would you like to see more of?