Stupid SEO Questions

Some people think there is no such thing as a “stupid question”, such people probably ask a lot of stupid questions themselves. Of course there are stupid questions in all worlds. Most are not real questions, no they are questions written by people that claim to be experts or position themselves as such just so they can answer them or affirm them (generally incorrectly) at least that seems to be the case in regard to SEO. In other words most stupid questions are asked by people that already have both an answer that is wrong and an agenda that is self serving.

Lets look at three of my favorite Stupid Questions about SEO.

1. IS SEO Dead? or Is it dying? or Will it die someday? or any version of this.

The answer is of course no, there have been countless cases made for the death of SEO over the last two years, none I will dignify with a link. People that take this stance don’t even in general know what SEO is. SEO is optimizing sites and pages for search marketing in a way so that you benefit with out paying for the traffic at least that is the best definition I can give you right now. In other words doing what works best to get a site targeted traffic with out paying the search engines for it.

Now to say this practice will stop working or will die is like saying all radio is going to be replaced with nothing but ads. In the world of search the organic listings are the show and the paid listings are the show sponsors. Honestly the organic results could stand alone but the paid ones could not. If you doubt it look at the decline of GoTo/Overture. Why did it happen? They stacked every paid result above every organic one and it was a poison pill had Yahoo not bought them and changed the format the entire thing woud have amounted to nothing but another casualty of the Dot Com Bubble.

The reality is the more data that is accessible the harder it will be to find. There will always be a need for search and no matter how providers serve the results there will be ways to improve your rank and exposure by serving them what they are looking for. These “ways” are SEO, they may change but the ability to manipulate any search system simply by understanding how it works will always exist.

Does SEO from 1996 work today? No! Does that mean SEO is dead or dying, only someone who is totally blind to real SEO and it also trying to pretend they are actually informed would ask such a dumb question.

2. Will Web2.0, Social Sites, Social Networking, etc replace Search?

This is a stupid question because all of those things are a form of search! They are type of human enhanced search, blog search engine, feed monitoring but they all sort data into specific types so people can find what they are looking for. Simply put if all a person does is try to rank sites in Google they are not an SEO, not in 2007 anyway. Optimizing search is as much about delicious, youtube and MySpace today as it is about Google, Yahoo and MSN. Honestly this is just another angle on question one.

Hell to put it simple I can manipulate a lot of Web2.0 sites and social search far easier then Google!

3. Can Anyone Do SEO?

OK this question is only stupid based on who asks it and in what context. What I mean is if a new person to search marketing asks this question in an attempt to learn what is required to get a site ranked for a term clearly you would have to be a jerk to call the question stupid. However, when a “self appointed genius” asks this question only so they can show how “easy SEO is”, the question is like asking if anyone can play basketball.

Sure anyone can play basketball! Can everyone play NBA basketball? Hell no! I am a 230 lb 5’10” white dude that can’t jump. So can I play in the NBA? Now in high school I was good enough to make the High School team if I had wanted to but no amount of work, no amount of effort would have ever gotten me on a team at even a community college.

So can anyone do SEO? Sure! Can anyone get some results? Of course but the real stars of SEO are way beyond just getting a rank or even 100 ranks. The stars are those who are creative and can come up with ways to use their skills in a way that leverages multiple concepts. They don’t just rank terms, they actually create markets, they rank a term no one cares about then they use SEO to build a brand around their own terms!

Final Thoughts

Look all three of these questions are valid when asked for the right reasons by the right people. Yet they drive me crazy when proposed just to set up answers by people who are totally uniformed or worse yet partially informed. It is the partially informed that are the most dangerous. You will know the one off by a few hours is wrong, the one off by 10-20 minutes will make you late for work and cost you a job”. He would then follow it up by reminding me that even a broken clock “was right twice a day and off by 10 minutes 4 times a day”.

The message – be careful what you listen to in the SEO and the entire Internet Marketing World. Now I don’t claim to always be right but what I seldom do to my readers is speak in absolute terms. When I talk about a major event or change I try to say things like

“pay attention to the possibility”

or

“this might effect current efforts”

Not with absolute statements that are pure nonsense. I wrote this post simply because of how often I see people who are using these angles to try to gather just a few minutes of fame with them. Then I have to talk to clients who have decided SEO does not work, PPC is akin to burning money or SEO’s rip people off because “anyone can do it”.

So next time you hear, there is no such thing as a stupid question, just remember it all depends on who is doing the asking and why they are asking the question in the first place.