SEO and Social Media are not Dead, Just Your Imagination

Time to vent…

Disclaimer:  This post is based on my opinion and  the opinion of other SEO experts I’ve spoken to.

Navigating online I have come across several articles that dramatize an idea that “­SEO or Social Media are Dead” or “lets change or remove a certain term from our vocabulary” articles. They are scandalous, intriguing and annoying all in one.

annoyingseo

A great way to generate controversy is to create a contradicting article, and point out things from one side only. These articles are created to receive a lot of interaction due to their extremely debated nature. Creating a buzz around the author for what their specialty is.

Whether you are creating an article about “SEO being dead” or Social Media being dead” you are being a total hypocrite. Yeah, I said it! Think about it for a minute…

All the articles I found about “SEO Being Dead” and “Social Media Being Dead” are optimized through both social media and SEO. 

 

 The “Death” of SEO Irony

For years, SEO and Social Media have been working and growing with each other. I’m going to take out points that are made in a few posts, and give my opinion. I will also include some comments that were made that are simply brilliant. 

I added the link URLs below next to the topics, sorry but you will have to copy and paste some of them #noloveforhypocritesandonesiders

 

Article 1

SEO is dead. Long live social media optimization By: Tim Anderson (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/jul/22/seo-is-dead-long-live-social-media-optimisation)

“Search engine optimisation (SEO) was always a flawed concept. At its worst, it means making web content less engaging for the reader but supposedly better for search robots and for the mysterious algorithms that determine the order in which results appear for a Google search. At its best, it means no more than following best practice in creating clear, accessible web sites with intelligible content, meaningful titles, descriptive “alt” attributes for image, no broken links, and the rest of what makes for a high-quality web destination.”

Hi Tim, I’m Donnie and today I am going to teach you an important lesson about a public tool I’ve discovered in my SEO research called Google Trends. Go ahead and type “SEO, Social Media” and see what happens. Here’s an image of the results:

 SO is beating Social Media

IMO Tim you should stick to writing articles about topics you know something about, like: “print is dead, long live internet marketing” as true as an article that “might be” it will depend on the specific niche. A local vs. national business; commercial vs. industrial vs. agricultural vs. promotional, yadda yadda…

Way too many factors to determine anything, and these numbers will change drastically on different verticals. Another small factor you are forgetting are budgets and what makes sense to the business at the time.

“Search engine optimisation (SEO) was always a flawed concept”

To some it was, to others it was not.

“At its worst, it means making web content less engaging for the reader but supposedly better for search robots and for the mysterious algorithms that determine the order in which results appear for a Google search.”

Actually, at its worst, a black hat SEO Company was able to tap into a great amount of money in a short period of time without adding any real value to anyone. This became easy as 123 but Google is working on fixing these issues all the time, making it more challenging to rank. Just because it’s challenging does not mean it’s dead. Go tell a rocket scientist that going to Mars is impossible.

 “At its best, it means no more than following best practice in creating clear, accessible web sites with intelligible content, meaningful titles, descriptive “alt” attributes for image, no broken links, and the rest of what makes for a high-quality web destination.”

Wrong again Tim, and what do you know about SEO at its best? What exactly do you know about SEO? Can I have some references? Please prove me wrong. There have been tons of case studies done on ethical (White hat) SEO value adding methods people use to gain results on the SERPs (for you Tim I’ll abbreviate SERP: Search Engine Result Page).

Sorry you think SEO is dead, but clearly you don’t know Jack!

And it’s not just me who thinks this,

martin macdonaldMartin Macdonald wrote a beautiful response to this article http://martinmacdonald.net/seo-is-dead/

The article makes some pretty bold claims, including “Search engine optimisation (SEO) was always a flawed concept.” and “a recent Forrester report on how consumers found websites in 2012 shows that social media is catching up with search, accounting for 32% of discoveries“.

The first of those two claims is entirely subjective, the second is take out of context and highly misleading.

Lets look at whats true:

Yes – it is true that Social Media is expanding at a terrific rate.

Yes – it is true that executing a Social Media strategy is of increasing importance to businesses large and small.

Yes – it is true that a lot of what people called SEO was little more than manipulative tricks to fool search engines into ranking you higher.

But search is not dying

The part of the article that I have a problem with, is the assertion that social media is growing at the expense of search.  That is misleading.

The over simplification in the Guardian article is down to this psuedo-scientific-assumption that there is only a certain amount of internet traffic to go round.  People spend more time online every year, consume more information every year, and are crucially connected by far more devices than they were a decade ago.

Totally agree with you Martin.

Article 2

Social Media is Dead; Long Live SEO By: Barry Adams (http://www.barryadams.co.uk/2013/07/social-media-is-dead-long-live-seo/)

This article references one case study:

In late 2012 Forrester released a study in which they analysed (ß typo) 77,000 online transactions in a two-week period. They found that only 1% of those transactions had any influence from a social media channel

This only references one niche, and Foresters social media is definitely helping them rank. In most cases you cannot perform long lasting SEO without social media interaction.

social media death

“We do need to stop seeing social media as a source of customer acquisition. Facebook and Twitter contribute next to nothing to growing your customer base.”

That is 100% false; it all depends on your “niche”. Take the example of our client, a healthy meal delivery service in South Florida. They have a social media only strategy, and now have natural organic rankings. Initially Google Keyword research revealed very little to no search for the clients search terms. However, analytics is now showing many variations all thanks to the social media plan we set up for them. Now they are getting converting Facebook interaction as well as organic.

“But as far as driving online sales goes, social media is an astoundingly ineffective channel. If you want to grow your online sales, the evidence is clear: SEO and PPC are where you need to invest.”

Again, not true at all, first off if you want to rank you need to invest in social media. Second it depends on the niche, many well known brands gain publicity on social media outlets like YouTube. Have you ever heard of the Dollar Shave Club? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUG9qYTJMsI 10 million views. Still believe social media doesn’t work, Barry?

MikeTraphagen

Comment from Mark Traphagen found on inbound.org in regards to this post:

 

This article is shortsighted on at least two points:

1) It ignores the tremendous opportunity that social media backed by great content affords for building trust and authority around your brand. My agency now regularly gets calls from people who want to do business with us because they “follow Mark online and have come to trust his expertise,” so they figure the agency I work for must be awesome. 

2) it also ignores the potential for social to aid both your seo and email campaigns. I have proven that a powerful, influential Google+ network can raise your Google search presence. And you can use social to drive people to your on-site content where you have the opportunity to capture their email address for your email marketing efforts. “

At “LEAST” two points Mark.

socialmediascum

… The next article sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me.

 

Article 3

SEO is Dead. Now What? By: Neal Cabage (http://www.inc.com/neal-cabage/seo-is-dead-now-what.html)

Today, it is not uncommon to hear about online businesses that have built successful online media websites that have done well for years, but then suddenly see a loss of half of their traffic overnight. In many cases, these businesses thought they were playing by the rules, but have ignored one important point: Their entire business is predicated upon ranking well in the Google search results, and outside of Google, they oftentimes do not exist. By Google’s new definition of quality, this premise positions the website as probable spam that should be removed from its index.

Many businesses claim to do “SEO” and simply can’t get any real results. They look for shortcuts; buying links, manipulating the search engines and constantly looking for ways to game the systems algorithms. Google wants to give consumers the best experience and does not want to present the users with garbage. That does not mean that SEO is dead, it just means one must actually add value.

If a company falls for “no reason”, they can report the issue to Google. However, I spent many hours in the past on the moz.com Q&A and most people that fall off have an unnatural link profile, tried to game the system and never added any real value.  SEO works but only for businesses that are willing to invest in time and money.

SEO is an ever-changing process. If you hire a good company that follows best practice guidelines that works closely with the clients you will see long term results.

“For this reason, the zeitgeist of the SEO world has recently started to make a fundamental philosophical shift. Until now, the craft of SEO has been markedly tactical and reactive in nature–just figure out what the search engines want and adapt to it. But thought leaders in the space have begun hinting that tactical reaction isn’t going to work much longer. In fact, it may already have become cost-ineffective for many businesses. For this reason, online businesses need to begin thinking beyond search rankings now. What is going to work in the future will be the traditional business and brand building efforts that have been the foundation of building a business for centuries.”

The craft of SEO is very broad and there are several ways to rank. It’s not a “one size fits all” type deal. In fact SEO and Social media are very similar, they both require engagement research and value. When a company is successful in Branding they are successful in SEO. As long as you’re adding value to the users, the return will be transparent. 

A fun project we’ve worked on is for a company that sells MacBook Decals + Stickers, take a look at the analytics for their site over the past two years. Quite impressive!

Macdecals.com

These results are 90% SEO even after all the Google updates (panda & penguin) we continue improving in our SEO and Social media. Why? Because, we are adding value! Most companies that fell, deserved it! In my opinion Google has a long way to go. We are still seeing companies using black hat methods that work, from research and experience we know they will rank until the day they get caught.

… I’d like to talk about a post that was recently made on moz.com by Carson Ward.

 

Article 4

7 Reasons to Remove “Link Building” from Our Vocabulary By: Carson-Ward  http://moz.com/blog/7-reasons-to-remove-link-building-from-vocabulary

Disclaimer: Carson is brilliant, and I’ve followed him on Google + as well as read some of his moz.com articles.

“I see variations on this theme often; sadly, I see it most commonly in laments composed by those affected by Google’s Penguin update. After years of consulting, dozens of penalty-related questions in Moz’s Q&A, and careful consideration, I am convinced that the idea of “building links” has been heartbreakingly detrimental to our industry and many site owners. I will argue that everyone — marketers and SEOs included — would be better off if we stopped talking about building links altogether.

It may seem insane to many in the industry to speak of discarding “link building” as an action, goal, or job description. I certainly understand the objections, but I only ask that you consider the whole of my argument before coming to a conclusion.”

I have seen and answered many questions in Moz Q&A as well, and I agree that the way some are using link building is bad. (Here is my moz.com profile http://moz.com/community/users/338107)

What about all the companies that finally benefited from long-term value adding link building strategies? On the Moz Q&A, you are only going to hear about problems people are having, but you wont hear about all the wins, all the value adding articles and content that generate a real good link profile.  This is very one sided and affects every single good article written about link building (A broad term that has 14,800 exact searches per month on Google).

 

Max MinzerComment from Max Minzer found on Google + for this post:

“This G+ post of mine might not be worth it and I might be wasting my time but, as much as I want to ignore this, I can’t resist to respond. Want to share my thoughts and journey…

I have great respect for +Carson Ward (rarely see him in person but feel like we’d be great friends if we hung out more). I totally agree with main concept/mindset of making something people want (that’s something Matt emphasized in his interview with +Eric Enge recently) but disagree with the whole approach and effectiveness of using better words and focusing on “real” goals. We can totallybuild better websites, better content, and better messaging; built something people want, they will want to share what we have made and said and link building (or link earning, or link acquisition or whatever you want to call it – it makes absolutely no difference) is not on the way of any of that.

Carson sort of mentioned (on Twitter, I think) that his argument is not just about changing “link building” to “link earning” (play of words; though I’m getting this impression) so I’ll ignore that part. I think ditching “link building” phrase because it’s “abused” makes absolutely no sense. It’s just like the argument of ditching “SEO” term. Shall we chat about “inbound” (http://goo.gl/Z2MTO)? Let’s not talk about this “we need to stop calling ourselves that because we abused it ourselves” nonsense. Enough about this…

I’m not a link builder.
Here’s where I’m coming from: I started as a link builder when I started online. I then (some years ago) started to sort of avoid mentioning link building as I learned more (I started to have mindset Carson’s talking about in his post) and preaching that great content doesn’t need ANY link building. I then saw more of online & real world: more stories, more businesses,… I also started #maximpact and met a ton of great people, including many professional link builders. I had topics on link building on the show and heard/learned from a ton of smart people, both specializing in link building and marketers who don’t do and specialize on link building. As someone who knows about the topic, I learned that I was on the other point of extreme at the time. I slowly started to change my mind and my perception about link building/earning/acquisition (again, makes absolutely no difference how you call it). I’ve read and experienced many things over 9 or so months after that…
I’m still not a link builder (i.e. I’m not biased about defending it)

Just like with any other marketing effort (content, CRO,…) , there’s a professional approach (not a bandwagon) to link building and not many people know how to do it right. I must say – only a few people I know know their stuff. I have great respect for them as professionals. They have the right mindset about it too. Same, for example, applies to content marketing (some strongly argue to call it “strategy,” which, again, makes no difference but the play of words) – there are very few people who know what they are doing. Others are lying on their website and social media descriptions by pretending they are experts in the field.

Eric’s interview with Matt (http://www.stonetemple.com/link-building-is-not-illegal-or-bad/) was a culmination point for me. Google, contrary to how Carson interpreted it, confirmed my belief and mindset about link building. Google is not at all against link building.

Now to the points:

1) Link building isn’t a process or goal   Direct link building is a process that only a spammer or link buyer can do. That’s as far from truth as it can get.

What is link building then? All I read in this part is “we heard from so and so…” So what?
Talking about link building (measurement) is not on the way of focusing on profit (goal of measurement). I’m talking about professional consultants who understand who to present what they do to the client. Good doctor has to talk about amputating infected leg when “focusing” on saving patient’s life (opposite direction example but I hope you get the idea).

It takes a series of goals to get to ultimate goal. It takes multiple micro-yes to get to ultimate YES. Even if link building is not a process or a goal but just a benchmark (and I agree that it’s a benchmark) – does it mean we should stop talking about it and “remove” it?

2) Google wants to kill “link building” as a process

Like I mentioned multiple times above, recent interview with Matt reinforces importance of proper link building with the right mindset.

Also, I’m honestly confused – is it “process” or is it not (point #1 above). Here it sounds like IT IS a process that Google wants to kill…    This just reinforces my belief that this is all about playing with words…

3) Modern Google is not a link-counting machine

What were links meant to measure in the first place?

Word of mouth online. That’s what I learned in my search history lesson. Links are and will continue to be important. Algo will simply become more sophisticated at analyzing them. That’s what I heard from Google in the past year/recent months. Links will have their place. Social will have its place. Authority signals (if Google will figure it all out in the future) will have their place. The more signals, the better. There’s no reason to remove something that works very well now and will work even better with other new signals.

4)  Qualifying “good links” doesn’t stick


Rankings and links are benchmarks. Absolutely true.
Define “real goal” please. Profit? Talked about it in #1 above. Link building is a benchmark but also a micro-goal and practice in some way. Not the only one. There are many other decisions and practices that lead to profit (real goal).

There are good and bad practices. You need to qualify them. There are good and bad practices in medicine and science fields to achieve the goal (sorry, coming back to this scary example – chop leg with axe or use scalpel and appropriate tools). There are good and bad ways to get links in link building. The issue is with practitioners though, not practices. But qualifying does help to filter practitioners.

5) Link obsession can hurt relationships

For bad link builders and with state of obsession – yes. What does it have to do with “link building?” Let’s talk about proper ways of doing A, not rejecting A because someone is overly obsessed and abusing A.

6)  Focusing on links leads to missed opportunities

Again, has nothing to do with removing link building…
Focusing on social media leads to missed opportunities…
Focusing on content marketing leads to missed opportunities…
Focusing on traffic leads to missed opportunities…
Has nothing to do with the effort itself.

7) Marketers should differentiate their services from spammers

No. Marketers should provide outstanding service so they have nothing to prove to anyone. Period.

Look at other industries. They have the same problems in some way or the other. The difference is – they don’t talk about differentiating heir services but rather focus on providing outstanding service. They also have strictly defined regulations and guidelines enforced by societies & special groups. We, on opposite, try to make definitions more confusing, remove borders and have people who can effect change run and redefine things their way.

So, what should we do instead?
Certainly not the change of words or usage or better words
That never did and never will change anything.
This solution shocks me… 
That’s all I have to say, about that

There’s no better solution than to do outstanding job.
It’s true offline. Why should it not be true online?
Yes, Carson talks about do better marketing but I don’t understand why there’s this _So, what should we do instead?_ -> Use better words stuff???

Do the hard work and stop talking about trying to differentiate yourself from bad apples. That’s the problem with this article and that community in comments – trying to differentiate by changing labels is the main focus there. All that will happen is people will move to be “inbound marketers,” abuse that and will seek another name. People will ditch “link building,” call it “link earning” for now, abuse it and will then call it something else to “differentiate.” This labeling will never stop, will not make the industry better and will change NOTHING.

In any case, I’ll be glad that this bandwagoning will ditch “link building.” It’ll be easier to see true professionals (my observation and experience for the past year or so).

Great ideas in this post. Just wish this was a post about link building being included into the whole conversation about effectively creating things people want and spreading word about these great “things.”

There’s no reason to remove “link building” from our vocabulary.”


Link To Controversial Post: https://plus.google.com/108833983815923249955/posts/8dUvamjswYQ

… Finally, I’d like to discuss another article from Moz by Rand Fishkin

 

Whiteboard Friday

The Death of Link Building and the Rebirth of Link Earning – Whiteboard Friday http://moz.com/blog/the-death-of-link-building-and-the-rebirth-of-link-earning-whiteboard-friday

Disclaimer: Rand you’re the Man, I’ve learned many things from you that I am thankful for, but this is something that makes no sense for you or Moz.com.

“You’ve likely seen that this year has been an incredibly active year from Google’s Webspam Team, specifically focused on a lot of linking stuff with Penguin, now the exact match domain updates. We saw some other updates that look link related that weren’t specifically Penguin, but appear to be penalizing certain types of links. Article marketing, article directories getting hit. A bunch of the directories, like general web directories and pay for submission directories and SEO friendly directories getting hit earlier this year.

And, because of all this, I am really getting the sense that what Google is trying to say is, “Stop link building and start link earning.” Literally, I feel like the message coming out of Google is, “If this is a link that you go out onto the Web and acquire as an SEO person trying to build a link in the way that links have classically been built or gotten, we don’t want you to have that link, or more likely, we don’t want to count that link, and if that’s all you do, we might actually be penalizing you through an algorithm filter like Penguin.’

So I’m kind of seeing this as a return, a rebirth of the link earning ways of the Web. Remember, early on in the Web, sort of mid to late ’90s, before search engines became huge and link building was a big part of SEO, so you can kind of think like ’94 to ’97, ’98, that kind of thing, it was really about earning links that are going to bring me relevant traffic. That’s the only thing that mattered, because search was bringing some valuable stuff, but most of the search engines had some directory bases or it was a lot of keyword stuff.”

badlucklink

Call it link building, link earning, link acquiring, link gathering, real links, natural links, organic links, holistic links, the actions will remain. For now when I type, “link building” into Google moz.com is #2 with a “link building” category and has an article titled “7 Reasons to Remove “Link Building” from Our Vocabulary”. If you change the category from “link building” to “link earning” you will be missing out on the 15k exact searches a month.

I don’t know what moz.com analytics look like but if I had to guess “Link Building“ is probably a good converting term. Why would we steer away from link building, no matter what you change the term to people will still misuse it, and continue to do what they are doing. This is why keeping “black hat” and “white hat” in our vocabulary is important (Sorry Pete).

From reading numerous Moz.com articles, I know you guys love Star Wars, Look at it like the “dark side” and “the force”. The Force is always outnumbered, however in the long run good always prevails.

questionseo

My questions to the authors are: Are the articles created to get further interaction based on controversy?   Were they created to rank better for the terms that are now “dead”?  Do you guys really want to change these terms?

My question to everyone else: Do you believe is dead? SEO, Social Media, Link Building or none of them? Why?

Would love to hear everyone’s opinions on the matter.