Sword and the Script

Social Media Gurus and the Foolhardy Trend to Bash SEO

by Frank Strong

Bash SEO

Some time ago, I chatted up an alleged communications and social media proponent on Twitter, in an effort to, well, start a “relationship.” This person remarked despite the growth of the network, they just couldn’t “get into Google+” – to which I responded, well, it’s important for search.

In the context at that moment, the response came back rather sharp in tone.  This person didn’t use social media for SEO, they used it for relationships. The irony of that statement notwithstanding, the response was seeping with an implication and indictment that was far broader than just Google+:  SEO is a dirty term; only gamers think about SEO.

What bothered me the most about that “conversation” was it underscored a lack of understanding of just how important search is to anyone interested in relationship building. If we, or our content, cannot be found then just who are we building relationships with?

Even SEOs are saying SEO is dead these days; it’s a stylish thing to say.  It’s a dirty word because a host of bad actors have gamed the system to rank for terms that otherwise might not appear in response to natural search terms.  Add in the plethora of rather negative publicity about algorithm changes, and the entire process of SEO becomes, like an email from a wealthy Nigerian promising you a cut of a big check, spam.

The fact remains that an ability to have a basic technical understanding of search marketing is still extremely important because it helps search engines understand how to sort, categorize and display content in response to inquiries. Further, organic search, the sort of natural results returned to a search query, is by far the single largest source of traffic for web content.

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5 Resources for PR and Social Media Pros to Learn More about SEO

There are virtually a million places to find SEO knowledge and what I’ve found there isn’t anything that’s going to make you an expert in the short run.  Rather it requires consistent study and experimentation. Here are a few resources I find valuable — some of these you might have seen elsewhere if you’ve been looking; there’s at least three have you probably never heard of before.

1. Inbound.org.  Inbound calls itself Hacker News for marketers.  Rest assured, it’s not a place to dump links and by far and large the community is pretty good at self-policing. In some ways I often feel as if Inbound has “gamified” marketing news sharing – as to who can find the coolest links to earn “karma.”  Here’s a bit more on Inbound: Inbound.org’s Invitation to PR.

2. Search Engine Land.  When journalists that don’t understand what SEO is, they turn to Danny Sullivan and the crew at this publication to understand the story in plain terms.  Anytime there’s a big breaking story about a Google update, this is the place to go.  The publication offers a daily email newsletter called the SearchCap, which I like very much and at least skim it looking for news that I feel might merit a closer look. Often it includes not only their stories, but curated content from blogs around the web, which is often how I find new blogs to monitor.

3. Benson SEO.  Scott Benson is a former colleague of mine who is an absolutely brilliant SEO; I learned quite a lot about SEO by having that opportunity. He recently broke out on his own and in fair disclosure; I’ve hired him (with money) to do a little work on these pages here. He’s a white hat guy that doesn’t promise miracles, but offers sound technical SEO advice; it is advice I trust and have proven that with my own wallet. He has no idea I’m publishing this post, and I’m linking to him because I truly think he offers valuable ideas. Some time ago, I solicited his commentary (as opposed to him pitching me) for a guest post on this blog: Five Essential Technical SEO Tips For PR Pros.

4. ViperChill.  This SEO published several posts that earned a lot of shares in search circles some time ago (like Inbound.org). After seeing his name so often, and reading his often in-depth content, I added him to my RSS reader. It seems to me you can learn what not to do, as much as you can learn what to do; I’m not entirely confident he’s on Google’s good boy list.  One of the posts that first put him on my radar is well worth a read; Revealed: The New SEO (When Google Takes Freshness too Far).

5. Sugarrae.  Sugarrae is Rae Hoffman and her last post is pretty powerful:  Google Propaganda, SEO and Why Marketers need to Wake Up. She has a style – her language is often colorful – but if you look past that, there’s a lot of thought in her posts, such as:

ZOMG! GOOGLE KILLED SEO! Hardly. As anyone with an SEO agency will likely tell you, demand for good SEO services has merely increased. Before all the Penguin / Panda craziness, we (SEOs) had one core offering. We helped you get your on site technical shit straight, and helped with building branding and links with the end goal being to get you more exposure in the search engines. Nowadays, good SEO companies are still offering that, but there’s now a demand (and thus, services) to help Penguinized sites (both deserved and underserved) recover and Pandaized sites (both deserved and undeserved) recover. Because this shit is way too complicated at this point for anyone who doesn’t live and breathe SEO to navigate – especially where false positives are concerned.

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Traffic carries with it the very foundations of relationship building:  Awareness, interest, credibility, trust, and we hope, through a process of engagement along the way, customers.   After all, what is the purpose of content, and writing, and social communication if we can’t be found?   It is a foolhardy trend to ignore or bash SEO merely because it has a nasty reputation.

What say you?

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SEO may be a "dirty word" now, but there is still a need to promote a website. Thus, the idea of SEO will live on. 

SMM Arizona 


Thanks for the mention, Frank :)


Great list Frank. I hadn't heard of Benson, Sugarrae, and ViperChill. Personally, I'm a fan of Moz.

Your line, " ... it requires consistent study and experimentation" cuts the crux of matter. I think PR professionals can get intimidated by the technical side of SEO. Instead, there's logic in looking at organic search as a natural extension of PR.

Because the foundation of both comes down to content that serves the target audience(s).

Frank_Strong moderator

@Danny Brown  Sorry for the delay. Couldn't agree more, Danny.  Search and social were made for each other. 

Frank_Strong moderator

@LouHoffman  I completely agree, Lou. I too have felt intimidated, and while I still have a lot to learn, I've come a long way.  Seven years ago, I dived in and never looked back. I've been fortunate to also have worked with some really exceptional SEOs over time and that has helped tremendously. 


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