My Response to The Verge SEO Article

Last week, an article on The Verge about how Google & SEOs ruined the internet generated tremendous buzz.

Below are some of my thoughts, which also give me the chance to discuss key SEO concepts:

➡️ While making for a great read, full of colorful characters & anecdotes, even if conveying frustration to the extreme, this bonanza occurred 20+ years ago in affiliate marketing.

More clicks equaled more dollars. Keyword stuffing worked at first, and then linkbuilding schemes worked as well.

It would be quite awesome for us SEOs if wild parties like these still occurred, and we were invited. Regardless, the early history of SEO shared there is quite educational.

➡️ SEO today is tame, even boring from the outside. SEO has become part & parcel of the corporate world.

Within it though, you see a fascinating puzzle of many pieces. You must be curious to succeed… a good sign is that the SEO has their own website.

➡️ Not only does tricking Google no longer work on the whole, you must have a holistic view of marketing that protects your company’s reputation.

You are mostly rewarded today for creating great, user-first, content-rich sites that attract relevant backlinks.

➡️ There are many scammers out there since the barrier to entry in SEO is low, mostly harming SMBs.

It’s not always clear that certain inputs lead to a given output in organic search results, in addition to demanding time & resources. Many will do almost nothing yet claim success.

With proper testing & analytics though, you’ll get a good sense of what’s working. Remember that SEO can only bolster in already-solid company’s success!

➡️ The psychological aspect of SEO is often ignored but vital.

For example, titles & headlines should be appealing and not just keywords. Clickbait brings attention, and “they” say all press is good press.

However, you need to focus on the audience likely to convert, often through being more specific.

➡️ I agree that many informational search results feel spammy or at least not useful foremost.

I don’t want to read another listicle when seeking out neat places to visit abroad.

To counter this, I do append Reddit to many searches when I want to read personal accounts without filler text meant only to sell.

For more straightforward transactional queries, you tend to see good results. The author isn’t clear about what search queries she’s dissatisfied with, just assuming we all feel the same way.

➡️ On another note, reviews on Google Business Profile and elsewhere, Amazon even, are going to be in for a reckoning to massively improve trust in the future.

➡️ While annoying, blackhat SEO pushes the industry forward. I have no doubt AI will spread tremendous crap over the next few years.

It’s important that Google gets challenged though, like how hunter-prey relationships improve overall fitness. Loopholes are few & far between in modern SEO due to this tug-of-war.

➡️ Google is like a monopoly, well above 90% market share.

They aren’t always transparent about what works, like clicks in search results (directly or indirectly) affecting rankings, which makes sense unfortunately.

However, through self-interest you can also understand why they want technical SEO like Core Web Vitals to improve so as to promote faster site crawling. However, this could also mean bias toward big brands with big ad budgets.

➡️ AI technology or some innovation that helps users find more specific, relevant info to them will unseat Google someday, not search engines similar to their current form.

➡️ A lot of people chime in to jump on trends.

I get it but sometimes disdain it (even if acting on it myself). It’s a good reminder to appeal to self-interest whenever you share content; never make it about you.

However, I think what I get most frustrated with is the sense of contrived or even real outrage over this article… I don’t understand how someone could take personal affront even if within the SEO industry.

I’d be fine to transition my career toward a totally different path if SEO truly died, but as long as search functions continue to rank web assets, I don’t see how optimization doesn’t matter, perhaps just shifting… like it always has.

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