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Monday, Jul. 16, 2007 at 4:03 pm

Are Some SEO’s Becoming (*gasp*) Marketers?

By Robert Gorell
July 16th, 2007

In today’s SEO Scoop, Donna Fontenot laments being known only for Search Engine Optimization. In fact, she declares “I am no longer an SEO.”

The problem is, I don’t know what to call myself. I create sites, so I might be a coder or a programmer or a web developer. I design those sites, so I might be a web designer, but since I’m not terribly good at that part of it, I don’t think I should wear that label. I optimize those sites and market them, so I might be an SEO/SEM. I occasionally remember to throw in some usability (usually whenever I hear Kim ranting), so I might be a usability …. what word would one use after the word “usability” to describe the job position? “Usability person”? “Usability guru”?

Fontenot’s link to Cre8pc‘s Kim [Kraus Berg] and the comments that go with them are telling. Kim’s oh-so-subtle post, Search Engine Marketing is Bogus for Sites that Simply Don’t Function, sums up this common frustration like so:

[...] There are those few of us tied to the SEO industry whose skills work user centered design, usability, persuasive design (i.e., marketing), accessibility and site functionality (software testing) into web sites that are optimized for search engines. Our goal is to not only make web sites that are found and rank well, but when visitors click into them, they don’t run screaming, feeling betrayed by pages that aren’t designed to work for people.

With the growing number of “in-house” SEO/M’s, whose responsibilities are marketing their company’s web site interests to Internet users, it makes sense to also instruct them on making sure pages are built to meet requirements and how to track, test and implement changes based on human usage data analysis that goes beyond keywords and links.

It seems a lot of SEO’s go above and beyond the scope of optimization tactics, search engines, or both. A few weeks ago, Jeffrey questioned what makes SEO’s qualified to be marketing experts. Weeks before that, I stirred up some debate. Today, we don’t seem much closer to an answer.

So, is the term too narrow, or have the expectations of the individual SEO and/or firm become too broad? Would any SEO’s out there care to comment?

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Comments (15)

  1. You might want to look a bit more at the debate between Mike Grehan and the group at The Grehan critic there uses a fair bit of pejorative language to describe Mike’s “marketing” world and supposed lack of SEO chops. He also at one point inexplicably wonders whether Grehan’s brain has been taken over by “paid search profiteers” (huh? you wonder what that even means… there is an odd obsession with old school SEO purity that persists in the SEO world… so in that sense, a lot of ‘em really aren’t interested in a day job that integrates with a marketing plan overall).

    *Some* SEO’s are growing increasingly strategic and multifaceted. Others just say they are, but would rather remain edgy and “different,” and lecture their clients rather than work with them. To each his own, I guess.

  2. Haha, heaven forbid! SEOs creating good content? Could it be? We can only hope.. ;)

  3. Any SEO company worth their salt these days should be able to advise on a number of aspects outside pure site optimisation techniques. Unfortunately there are still a few old timers out there who are only interested in rankings and not increasing conversions and sales as an end goal.

  4. As a seasoned developer of 15 years who’s only now benefiting from the great Eisenberg books I can honestly say that, for smaller companies in particular, many more developers and designers need to understand the SEO/M side of things (and apply it). There is a huge skills gap in these companies, particularly here in the UK. Only the larger organisations that can afford to take on specialists in the field will see the benefits, but even then they don’t always work together well with designers/developers and friction arises. The next few years will surely see more and more developers gaining these skills by default. I can sort of draw a parallel with designers having to pick up CSS skills as they’ve had to over the last few years. It will happen!

  5. I’ve never been a fan of the term “search engine optimization” as I felt it was too limiting. I always thought of myself as a website marketer. SEO can (and should) be defined as a subset of website marketing (which could also be considered a sub-set of internet marketing (i.e. marketing online even if you don’t have a website.))

    Whatever it is we “SEOs” do, we need to be marketing websites by making them better in function, conversions and at drawing traffic. SEO is just one of the strategies in that arsenal. If I had my choice I would prefer my company to be known as a web marketing firm with roots in SEO.

  6. I start with coding websites in html. Then I became a php proggramer. There were better out there than me so I start doing SEO. Now I am much more in the SEM than SEO and I Completely agree with stoney that SEO is a part of SEM.

  7. [...] persuasive design (i.e., marketing), accessibility and site functionality (software source: Are Some SEO’s Becoming (*gasp*) Marketers?, Conversion Rate Marketing Blog – GrokDotCom by [...]

  8. Sorry, I have to take issue with this whole thing.

    Smart SEOs have always been marketers. Bad ones were algorithmic gamers, trying to cheat their way to the top of the search engines without attention to brand, market, audience or quality of site or content.

    This isn’t some kind of change in SEO. This is bad practitioners starting to copy what the good ones are saying.

  9. Good SEOs Have Always Been Marketers…

    Grokdotcom posted an article yesterday titled “Are Some SEO’s Becoming (*gasp*) Marketers?”. No. Good SEOs have always been marketers. Granted, good SEOs are, and always have been, in short supply. And it may be that these days, bad SEOs are lear…

  10. Jonesy brings up a a couple of good points that, I have to admit, are among my particular “hot buttons” of late:

    1) The “Eisenberg books” are indeed “great.”
    2) Universal principles like persuasion architecture resonate not just with (North) Americans, but internationally as well.
    3) The “rest of the world” (e.g. outside of U.S.) is lagging, but WILL catch up!

    Therein perhaps lies some of the greatest opportunities for web-based marketing.

  11. At the moment, I prefer the terms internet marketing or online marketing, to include SEO, SEM, SMO or other current optimization and marketing acronyms.

  12. Ian, I understand what you’re saying but I don’t think that algo-chasers = bad SEO. Bad marketing, perhaps, but not bad SEO. The algorithm chasing SEO has a place in the overall marketing of a website, just as a mechanic has a place on a race car team. But the mechanic is not responsible for how the car looks, that’s someone else’s job entirely. A good algorithmically knowledgeable SEO doesn’t need to know usability so long as there is someone else he is teaming with that does. Unfortunately, our industry has take a while to get around to pairing the mechanics with the usability artists or learning it themselves.

  13. seo…

    melisssas directorio, Directory(Board of directors) with everything what you need explores Internet and knows the web sites mas interesting….

  14. Of course SEO is part of SEM
    but not only
    in SEO are good coding too.. dont forget about it!

  15. It seems a lot of it is the disconnect between the personality that gets the technical end of things quickly and the “rest of the world”. Shucks — even today, programs are often too hard to use because the tech guys who write them assume the users have a lot more technical background than they do in real life. Fine with me, I guess; I make a living that is in part based on my ability to translate “jive” (with apologies to Airplane, the movie).

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