Last week I saw this interesting whiteboard Friday which talked about ‘Why We Can’t Just Be SEOs Anymore’ by Rand. Though he has raised some valid points, like ‘perception of SEO is hard to change’, I have to disagree with him overall. Sorry Rand, you are missing the complete picture.
SEO is not bigger than SEO
SEO is all about generating relevant organic traffic to the website through search engines. That’s it. SEO is not about email, CRO, UX, Social Media, Branding, PR, Reputation Management, Coding, Advertising, Customer Service …
You may argue that there are 200+ ranking signals so I need total control on everything which influences SEO. While it is true that they are 200+ ranking signals, don’t forget the 80/20 rule i.e. 80% of your output comes from 20% of the input. If you have worked in the SEO industry long enough, you already know what that 20% is that will generate 80% of the SEO results.
That 20% consists of basic on-page optimization, keyword research, content development and above all link building. We can tweak brand signals, social signals, authorship, Page Rank, markups and other weak ranking signals all day long but they won’t generate any considerable amount of organic traffic on our website. What really drives traffic is that 20% I am talking about.
If we talk about the real world (which could be very different from the blogging world) there could be unlimited ranking signals. For a start, your client is a very strong ranking signal for you. Without his support and cooperation you can’t make any change on his website. No amount of SEO is going to help, if the client is not responsive to your needs and demands. Poor product, bad reputation, poor customer service all are sort of ranking signals which are beyond our control.
Just because something may impact your SEO so you must develop expertise in it or take total control of it is a wrong mindset. Here is why. When someone works as a marketing generalist who knows little bit of everything (well sorry but this is what specialists really think about him) he is eager to give suggestions to specialists (like CRO consultant, PR consultant, Community Managers etc) on how they can do their job better.
Since he is not a specialist, his suggestions may not be well received or align well with the recommendations of specialists. This creates disruption in digital strategies and work environment. So instead of creating synergy the marketing generalist could inevitably end up creating stress and chaos.
The Perception of SEO is hard to change so we should change the job title
There are lots of job titles out there which have earned a bad name over time like car salesmen, lawyers, brokers, cold callers etc. There is hardly any industry left where you won’t find people who give the whole industry a bad name. Even in a profession as noble as Health Care you can find doctors who steal kidneys and are involved in the illegal organ trade. So have they changed their job titles? No.
So this argument of bad perception of SEO is not strong enough to drop the SEO title.
We are selling ourselves short by not calling ourselves a SEO
That is true. When we say we do email, CRO, UX, Social Media, Branding, PR, Reputation Management, Coding, Advertising, Customer Service….all in the name of SEO or whatever titles we prefer, say ‘Inbound Marketer’, we are not only spreading ourselves too thin but are abnormally raising the expectations of our clients. With so many marketing channels being leveraged they will definitely earn tons of money. Won’t they?
We are also holding ourselves responsible for client’s sales ability as we are now in charge of CRO, UX, branding, customer service, PR etc. All of these are full time jobs in themselves. And if we have to do all of these jobs and practically run the entire business then a monthly retainer can never be profitable, partnership in client’s business and profit will be. While we can make SEO as big as we like, do as much volunteer work as we want, don’t expect the clients to handover their business to us just because we practice every marketing tactic in the book. At the end of the day even business development managers (who are specially hired to develop businesses) are handed over a monthly pay slip instead of partnership in business and profits, let alone SEO.