Whenever I’m asked what I do for a living my response is “internet marketing” rather than SEO. 99% of the population, including many tech savvy internet users, have no idea what SEO is. Some people understand what Search Engine Optimisation is but there are so many misconceptions about the industry that many who have heard about it will have a bad impression.
Over the past few years the SEO industry has grown and just like any industry, has attracted rip off merchants and scammers who promote low quality products and services to make a quick profit. Unlike most industries outsiders seem to be unable to see the wood for the trees and let the small minority tarnish the entire industry.
I think the term SEO is a bit of a lost cause. Lots of people think it is a euphemism for spam and most people have never heard of it. What chance do we have? I use the term “internet marketing consultant” which tells people I provide consulting services about marketing on the internet. No explanation needed.
Only yesterday TechCrunch, who normally have a fairly positive view of SEO and even use the services of Pronet, had an article describing a site as being a “pure SEO site” because it had little original content and wasn’t a high quality resource in their opinion. Whether the site was good or bad is irrelevant, the fact is they used the term “SEO” as a negative point.
Glam also owns a number of pure SEO sites like free-beauty-tips.com, celebrity-hairstyles.org and others. These sites drive a lot of traffic from search engine queries and pump up the Comscore numbers dramatically, but provide, as far as I can tell, absolutely no original content.
Why is a low quality site automatically an “SEO” site? Most of the millions of people churning out poor quality sites know nothing about SEO.
For me the first rule of natural SEO is that you shouldn’t waste time trying to promote low quality sites. If your site has no value you are far better of redesigning it from the ground up to offer a good user experience than trying to throw some money at it and hoping you can build up some good rankings. Some low value sites rank because they have history but if you start a low value site today don’t expect any traffic from Google.
Maybe we should try harder to fight public opinion and keep trying to promote SEO in a positive light but with so many misconceptions it feels like a losing battle. Just look at the amount of people still paying to submit to 500,000 search engines and it’s clear that educating people simply isn’t enough.
What do you think? Should we defend the term SEO and try to win over the public or leave the term alone and become internet marketing consultants instead?