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You heard it right.  Fuck SEO all over the place.

I don’t like SEO anymore. “SEO” the term has been vilified and bludgeoned to death because of its constant redefinitions and wacko interpretations.  I’m constantly amazed  at some of the utter tripe I am exposed to in my daily internet meanderings, that I’m not surprised when so many of the general audience think that “SEO” is synonymous with sleaze and snake oil.  When SEO companies are marketing themselves as an ETHICAL firm, you know there is somebody pissing in the industry coca-cola.  Although there are fantastic internet marketing shops and experts out there, the rise in the dufus firms is frightening, if not downright dangerous for the site owners who parlay with them.

My gripe is not new and I am not the first person in the online field to rant about “the state of SEO.” or “SEO is dead.”  For the record, I don’t think that Search Engine Optimization is dead, in fact my business requires my understanding and implementation of it.  I’m a fan of search optimization.  But the “SEO” brand in and of itself is something I’m just not interested in anymore.  How can I care about an acronym that’s completely misused and misunderstood by people who are more interested in the “SEO fame game” than anything else?  In the interest of becoming famous, those partaking  will blog, speak and holler the most bombastically fruity information in their ever-expanding attempts at getting a landing on sphinn.  I’ve got some mad respect for badass Sugarrae, and on an interview on seobook, she hit the nail on the head.

SEO Bloggers are like reality TV stars… Most don’t have the talent, they just have the platform to pretend they do.

Kinda like, “I’m  not real SEO, I just play one on the internet.”

In a sense, I’m glad that more and more people understand and respect the need for a proper search optimization initiative, and that’s due to the awesome work  of some respected authorities in the field informing the rest of us on good practices.  However, the proliferation of get rich quick, adsense millions, easy money scams has enamored a set of misled individuals into believing that they are SEO super heroes.  It’s incredible to me that one can get a blog and a twitter account and suddenly brand themselves as  “expert” SEO and Social Media Consultants who wouldn’t know what qualified traffic is if it came and sat on their face and wiggled.  This flood of inaccuracy is part and parcel to my estrangement from the term.

A few weeks ago I read a post called “7 Red Flags that Reveal to Google You’re an SEO Criminal – Avoid These!”  Now, I think Gyutae Park is a competent search advocate, but this post in particular, in my opinion, completely misfires.  This conversation, in this framework, is all wrong, i.e., aligning search optimization with criminal behavior.

I’m sorry, but WTF?  Spamming the search engines is what one should avoid (unless you have ten thousand urls you can burn, but that’s another blog post).  In my opinion, the whole premise for this post is improper, let alone some of the points made.

While Google’s business is to return highly relevant search results that provide value to users, SEOs seek to reverse engineer the algorithm and manipulate rankings for their own gain.

Not a fair statement, and a little lacking in a correlation to facts.  Although Google indeed might be targeting seo’s, I would trust Michael Gray or Outspoken Media with any of my sites, and I know for a fact that they get awesome results for their clients.  These trusted experts are hired as advocates for websites where the owners know that they have what it takes to responsibly make the argument to the algorithm that their site is authoritative for a set of related keywords.   Or take this analogy, I wouldn’t even dare to go to court and represent myself, so I hire a good lawyer.  C’mon dude?!?  Link bait is one thing, but polluting the conversation is not right.  And there is more of this SEO criminality in the rest of the post, and the ensuing comments did not make matters any better.  When Todd Malicoat, another expert I’d trust with any site I own, makes the following comments on sphinn;

It’s discussions like this, why I decided it was probably best if I didn’t write things for the “seo community” much anymore.  Topics like this really make me want to rebrand “what I do”, even though I’ve always been PROUD to be an seo (little less so, when I read things like this).

I’ve got to agree.  It’s disheartening for this kind of karma to be out there.

A recent series of events has also attributed to my hatred of the term “SEO”.  I attended a local meet-up of search and internet people.  At first, I was really excited about hopefully meeting some interesting people and seeing who is out there in the Miami search and internet industry, and for the most part, it was cool.   Except that I had these two conversations that emphasized my belief that it is becoming too easy for a person to think they are an expert at Super Deluxe Super Hero Rockstar SEO.

In the first one, I meet a young and energetic dude who introduces himself to me enthusiastically to proclaim his prowess and seo stylings.  Telling me he’s been doing SEO for 5 years, he is really experienced at all this badass seo stuff and I should read his blogspot blog to see all the people he’s helped.

Blogspot blog, check.

The conversation turns to research and practices, wherein I mention a cool article by Danny Sullivan on Twitter and business cards.  The response.  “Who’s Danny Sullivan?’  Taking a step back so I could catch up with my shoes, I realize that it is entirely possible for someone to work in the search industry and NOT know who Danny Sullivan is, though if you are interested in expanding your skills past the sandbox, start knowing who he is  But to work in the search field, supposedly for five years, and not know who he just doesn’t make sense to me.

As a follow up, I also met up with another online expert, this time in website usability factors..  Again, as the conversation progressed, I found a blank stare for the words A/B testing, and an even blanker stare when I mentioned Kim Krause Berg, and a straight admission that she’s (NOT KIM KRAUSE BERG, the girl I was speaking too) never heard of eye tracking or heat map testing.  The usability expertise she proclaimed might actually be effective, but the value of it, in my eyes, went down.

Story time.  When I was a kid, about 14, I picked up the bass guitar.  I actually got pretty good; played in bands, jammed with some stars, got signed to a label on Tuesday, dropped the following Friday, all that stuff.  But when I had just picked up my bass, about a month later I knew who Stanley Clark, Bootsy Collins, Charles Mingus, and this up and coming badass Jaco Pastorius was.  I was intrigued with my instrument and the environment of it best practitioners.  This enthusiasm for the  professional bass – playing community was something I shared when I first started trying to get sites ranked, and I followed forums and articles.  My experience “coming up” was definitely during the internet wild west days,  when industry experts were first making names for themselves, but to be a professional in any industry and not know who the top players are just doesn’t imply validity to me.

Let’s put this out on the table; I don’t consider myself an seo expert, always more of a student and fan.  Search optimization is not something you learn in one sitting.  I’m learning something new everyday, and relearning something every other day.  I’ll even venture to bet that most of the seo rock-star set, those who earned their reputation from years of hard work, learn something new everyday as well.  Search is a shifting art form, with the rules being changed, sometimes on a daily basis.   But it seems that all of a  sudden, one wordpress installation makes someone the chief SEO bigshit at NASA.

And sometimes, people who should know better are the cause of the maligning of search.  I think these individuals have a perceived authority entitlement to either scream out their mistreatment at the hands of search suggestions (IMO because their intelligence suddenly ran out on them), or a whorish attempt to create link bait by outing a technique, pointing out a loophole beneficiary, or discussing in public that which is private.

Other times, it’s booger snot moves from the search engines themselves which makes a rumblepup do a double take.  The “nofollow” debate is over and Google does what it does because it can, and we deal with it and move on, but no one can tell me that the whole thing wasn’t an “Ahhh fuck this shit” situation.

So the acronym SEO has lost it’s luster for me.  I’ve had to correct so many completely backwards programs lately, that it’s no wonder those who need to hire a search advocate feel that the industry is full of badness and idiocy.  Adding in brand spanking new “social media tards”  who further muddy the conversation doesn’t help either.  There is a full, big picture here, that requires a conversation along all lines, search, social and offline, that’s not being heard.

The big picture is lost on some small eyes I guess.