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Buzzwords & Bullsh!t: SEO


“You have a lot of strong feelings, don’t you?”

This was something a professor said to me in grad school. To be honest, he’s right. There’s a lot of things that I think are super annoying. I cannot stand Los Angeles, I don’t like capers, I think that e-books hurt your eyes and I also believe that SEO is a buzzword that needs to die in a hole…alone.

I’ve been in marketing for several years now. I’ve learned about content marketing, video marketing, social media, graphic design, even managed cost-per-lead programs. But throughout my time in marketing, people have become ridiculously obsessed with SEO. People are soooo fixated with where they show up in the search rankings. And while it definitely is important, it’s really complex and hard as hell to achieve. That’s why I think using it as a “cool phrase” is incredibly stupid.

Let me break this down for you: SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. What this means is that you should make your company/website stand out by having association with certain words so when people search for these words, you will show up.

Now, I have to clear a few things up because they’re important to make note of. First off, SEO is something that takes A LONG TIME to build up. It requires consistent posting (on social media and on your website) in order to get enough attention. I’m talking Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blog posts, videos, podcasts, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

Second, don’t buy into the people who say they can raise your SEO in a short period of time. If you want your ranking to last, then you need to be posting regularly, both on and off your site. Raising your SEO quickly won’t really do much for you in the long run  (Plus you’ll have wasted a whole bunch of money paying for a liar to do shady stuff for you). SEO is a very complicated thing to achieve, especially when there are so many changes that have to be made to keep up with the algorithms.

Thirdly, don’t think you can outsmart the algorithm. It used to just scan websites to see where your content showed up (e.g. on your site and on other sites), analyzed your keyword correlations, checked if you ran campaigns with aforementioned keywords, and looked at the readability of your site (design, how easily people can navigate a page, etc).  If you had each of those elements, you’re pretty much golden. You used to be able to raise your ranking by doing a few minor tweaks. Simple, right?

Not anymore. Google has upped its ante (especially in the last few months). Thanks to machine learning, the August update has made the algorithm smarter: if you don’t have a functional mobile website and a fast loading time, you’re now deemed untrustworthy by Google. *gasp*

But that’s not all.

The algorithm took trust and intent into account when it provided search results, something it hadn’t done before. The medical industry seemed to be hit particularly hard. The reason why those sites were impacted is due to a few things: content wasn’t educational, product reliability/renown was low, the author had a bad reputation and/or the website itself wasn’t respected. These all factored into those medical sites experiencing decrease in traffic.

Come September 27, the algorithm changed again (on Google’s birthday no less). Not as many sites were impacted, but it was definitely still noticeable. Some of those companies that were finally recovering from the damage done in August were now hit again: the algorithm had decided to re-rank keywords. This means that some of the terms that ranked higher in August ended up dropping in popularity and relevance. Managers were reporting anywhere from a 10-40% drop in traffic overnight. (For the record, that’s *really* not good.)

With all of these changes, what exactly can you do to make sure you are staying at the top?


The only things you *can* do are to keep posting relevant content, check Google Analytics for changes, and run keyword campaigns. But really, that’s about it.

SEO may be posted everywhere and a good ranking is definitely something you should work towards achieving. But you will *not* be able to keep up with all of the alterations to the machine learning components of Google search. It may be a buzzword, but don’t fall for the hype.  Post good content that people want to read, use social media, and remember, SEO is bullsh!t.

Author Katie Orong

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