Should SEO Bloggers & Writers Go Away?

Jun 10, 2014 • 8:07 am | comments (61) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Engine Industry News

burn booksA couple weeks ago, Bill Slawski posted on Twitter asking if SEO writing is dead.

Bill Slawski has been in the SEO industry since the 90s, before even me. :) He writes some of the most detailed and technical SEO posts out there, more than almost anyone I know, on his blog SEO By The Sea.

So for him to see shallow SEO posts out there, either on sites like this (okay, nail me in the comments) or others, it can be upsetting.

Here is Bill's tweet:

Now, most people say there is still value in SEO blogging and writing but there is no doubt, there is a ton of bad stuff out there.

Bill doesn't think I am the source of that bad stuff, thankfully:

But I admit, I am sure some of the content I produce, or a lot of it, can be done better.

Anyway, Kim from Cre8asite Forums expanded on Bill's tweet saying:

Do we need SEO writing? YES! All you need to do is to wander into any forums where SEO is a topic to see the questions, frustrations and experiences from people struggling to make their sites come up in search, battle penalties or learn how to implement even the basics. People come to forums after having been ripped off or hiring a company that got their website into huge trouble. This is evidence to me that not only are there dangerous articles on SEO out there, but more importantly, a real fear and lack of trust not only towards the SEO industry but whom to hire.

Content in general is an issue on the web. There is just so much of it, and we can blame or thank Google for that.

That being said, I am not sure if this is an SEO specific issue or just a general issue with the web in any industry.

I started this site well before there were SEO blogs out there. There were many a handful of them. Now there is a new one every week.

So I ask you, anonymously, should SEO bloggers go away:

Forum discussion at Twitter & Cre8asite Forums.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for burning book

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: June 9, 2014



06/10/2014 12:29 pm

I don't think SEO blogs should go away. There are some good and even great posts about SEO published everyday, but all too often I see posts that just rehash something like the latest Matt Cutts video without adding opinion or agreement or disagreement. Add those thoughts - otherwise I'll just go watch the video on YouTube. Don't add to the echo chamber - add some value, some personal anecdotes, case studies, and relevant personal experiences. Don't publish just because you feel you need fresh content or regular updates - publish because you feel like you have something worth sharing. Something that can help people understand something better, or at least get them on a positive and useful path. Don't rehash mythology or crap. Please don't re-write Google 200 ranking factors posts including things like keyword density and LSI Keywords crap, or filled with logical fallacies.

Gaurav Srivastava

06/10/2014 12:48 pm

Should SEO Writing Die? Right Answer: Most But Not All. ...And these 'All' are very very fewer.

Nick Ker

06/10/2014 12:55 pm

Bill & Kim are both right on this. There is way too much repetition of bad information, ridiculous myths, and just plain lies - all of which gets repeated in the echo chamber and eventually read by unsuspecting people who believe it since they read it a few different places. "Normal" non-SEO people will often find and follow terrible advice that can lead to disaster for their websites. Just look through the comments on any of the posts here about penalties and you will see a startling number of people who say things like "I bought links/spun articles/sacrificed goats because that's what you were supposed to do to rank high in Google". Did Google tell them that stuff? No, a hundred or so half-assed SEO writers who mindlessly parrot every trending topic said it, so it seemed like that must be how it is done. Damage is done to those businesses, and it all just ads to the mistrust of SEO in general.

F1 Steve

06/10/2014 01:07 pm

@barry! Check out it appears the entire site is down? That should give you something to blog about! You may need to refresh a couple times but I get " Bing services aren't available right now We're working to restore all services as soon as possible. We know you want to get back to searching. Please check back soon. "

Gaurav Srivastava

06/10/2014 01:08 pm

It is working.

F1 Steve

06/10/2014 01:09 pm

hit refresh a few times!! Sometimes it works but mostly you get that above message!

F1 Steve

06/10/2014 01:11 pm

Only get the error in chrome, very odd!

Barry Schwartz

06/10/2014 01:11 pm

works for me

Gaurav Srivastava

06/10/2014 01:13 pm

load slowly in Chrome! but works.

Barry Schwartz

06/10/2014 01:15 pm

must be a location thing, works fine for me and Twitter isn't complaining that much. Only spotted a couple complaints in the past 12 hours about access issues to Bing.

Deb Dulal Dey

06/10/2014 01:28 pm

Someone has spoken the Truth

Alexander Hemedinger

06/10/2014 01:34 pm

I chose most, but not all. I am sure that's the #truth. :)

Jon Burnham

06/10/2014 01:40 pm

Take a lesson from the Moz rebrand. SEO does not exist - you cannot influence the search engines, therefore the illusion of optimization is a waste of time. Think about something else other than Google or rankings. You will live longer and be happier.

Michael Martinez

06/10/2014 01:57 pm

Of course SEO exists and, YES, you CAN influence the search engines. You just have to understand what is achievable and what is long-lasting. Most people never get beyond the basics and simply fail to realize that.

Jon Burnham

06/10/2014 02:03 pm

I disagree - You can't influence the search engines Michael. But you can influence people, if you have deep pockets or get an extremely lucky break. Of course, you can take a 'defensive' position - and make your online assets as good as they can be - whatever that might be this month. But this is NOT Search Engine Optimization, it's building a better dyke.


06/10/2014 02:11 pm

Comedy gold.

Jon Burnham

06/10/2014 02:12 pm

Sorry M - see my reply above. Also this:

Nick Ker

06/10/2014 02:21 pm

There is no spoon...

Jon Burnham

06/10/2014 02:22 pm

Bill, perhaps your long-standing and deserved excellent reputation has created some sort of cognitive bias over the years. There is nothing an SEO can do that other 'marketing and technical types' can't do better. Is there? Web designers, Web dev, Conversion specialists, PR Kings, Mark Twain level writers, Spielberg level corporate video wonks, product photographers, Seth Godin visioned traditional marketeers, Facebook obsessed endless conversationists, eagle eyed data interpreters etc - these are not SEOs. But these days they are much better value than link builders. What's the point of writing about SEO - write about activities that matter and will make a difference (see above).

Jon Burnham

06/10/2014 02:31 pm

Nick, perhaps your youthful exuberance and aspiration for an excellent reputation has created some sort of cognitive bias over the last couple of months. There is nothing an SEO can do that other 'marketing and technical types' can't do better. Is there? Web designers, Web dev, Conversion specialists, PR Kings, Mark Twain grade writers, Spielberg level corporate video wonks, product photographers, Seth Godin visioned traditional marketeers, Facebook obsessed endless conversationists, eagle eyed data interpreters etc - these are not SEOs. But these days they are much better value than link builders. What's the point of writing about SEO - write about activities that matter and will make a difference (see above).

Nick Ker

06/10/2014 02:56 pm

"Youthful"?! You clearly have no idea what you are talking about. I also think you may have missed the point of that meme. Google it and go watch a movie. BTW, one major thing a good SEO does is make all of those things you mention work together to improve the visibility of a site or business entity in search. One could also argue that if all web developers did everything correctly in the first place, there would be no need for optimization (you know, actually optimizing the site - not all the promotional activities you mentioned).

Jon Burnham

06/10/2014 03:08 pm

"BTW, one major thing a good SEO does is make all of those things you mention work together to improve the visibility of a site or business entity in search." By doing what exactly? Anything you claim to do here can now be done better by a drunk extrovert. Optimizing a site is site optimization - I do this and I don't call it SEO. I call it what it is. What is it the endless noise of words tells us incessantly? - build a site for people and Google will love you. Hmmmmmm.

Paul Caudell

06/10/2014 03:18 pm

SEO blogs are needed for new people to learn from. I myself learnt-and still do-the whole game from blogs. I think Jon has a point saying that SEO is learning towards standard marketing and PR now but honestly if you don't think that is part of SEOs all encompassing acronym then you've been hiding under a rock for years.

Nick Ker

06/10/2014 03:20 pm

By coordinating the message, the timing of things, the verbiage used, how things are linked together (by html links or other means), analyzing what works and what doesn't, applying what is learned from that, and a number of other things.... Wait, are you the same guy who about a year ago was insisting that SEO is strictly an IT thing that should be left to IT people? "Optimizing a site is site optimization - I do this and I don't call it SEO." And whatever you choose to call it, thousands of people do just that (some without any of the non-optimizing things you mention like link building) - because it does in fact help their sites become more visible in search when the site is made to work better than it did when it was launched. So your concern is that everyone chose the wrong phrase to describe that, or that some people think link building is optimization? "build a site for people and Google will love you" Two types of people say that. People who believe and repeat everything they hear while overlooking that something has to be done to make others aware of that site, and people who use it as a straw man argument and say "That isn't true, so therefore SEO is BS".


06/10/2014 03:35 pm

I think most of the stuff on this website is pretty good except for the maniacal obsession over ranking changes (or is it a reliance on Webmaster World?!?!). But in general there are too many entities churning out the same junk. We only need SEL, we don't need SE Journal, State of Search, etc, etc, etc, etc. Moz should continue with UGC content and their own blog posts & WBF. They need to stick to testing items in the SERP. Most of the rest of it can go away.

Jon Burnham

06/10/2014 04:00 pm

"By coordinating the message, the timing of things, the verbiage used, how things are linked together (by html links or other means), analyzing what works and what doesn't, applying what is learned from that, and a number of other things.... Wait, are you the same guy who about a year ago was insisting that SEO is strictly an IT thing that should be left to IT people?" That's 'marketing' Nick, it just happens online and would work better now if traditional marketeers took charge of it. I will present you with two scenarios, from an organic search income point of view. A well established brand vs. a mum (I'm English) and pop store that sells a product nationally. Store one has deep pockets and really has to do very little apart from traditional marketing, as it always has. It really only has to make sure its website is competent and converts. It does not even have to build links as it's digital assets are already extensive and coverage enormous. The M&P store can do what? It might have a better site, it might have better service, its people give a shit and have a face - plus the product is better. But the M&P's have a total marketing budget of $500 per month - would they be best doing anything SEO related? They can't afford Adwords and don't have the time to produce reams of indispensble content - nor do they have the resources to hire Hollywood level creatives. No, SEO is not for them - no one who has a reputation for 'SEO' can afford to help them at that price. Michael, Bill, Barry? Meanwhile the big brand gets its money on auto-pilot from Google's brand bias. So tell me, whither SEO? Neither client needs it as much as doing other things (my list). To one, it's a speculative and unstable expense - to the other, it's far down the list of priorities as judging by the SERPS - they get endowed anyway. Now if you are talking about damage limitation and reparation - there is certainly a thriving industry. Why? As Petero points out, echoed by SEOGiant at SEOBook - the game is rigged. It's unpleasant and full of bullshit - so Bill and Barry have a point about SEO writing, easily remedied by ignoring the moniker of SEO and talking about other, more useful things. Things that make a difference.

Jon Burnham

06/10/2014 04:08 pm

Thank you Paul. I think perhaps the most valuable thing that 'SEOs' could read about - is marketing :-) Many, including myself should put this at the top of the tree where it belongs. No more SEO articles as such. If anyone is going to say something to teach another, the creator should imagine that if it has no REAL value - they will be publicly euthanised by the state (perhaps G in this case).

Jonathan Saipe

06/10/2014 04:24 pm

Of course we should be writing/blogging about SEO. As content creators it's our responsibility to inform and inspire. Agreed, churning out unoriginal content is not what it's all about. I've just finished writing a piece on the "new SEO copywriting" - don't worry I won't stoop so low as to post the link (unless you ask me to!). The upshot is that good SEO writers are educators and we should craft our content to responsibly steer the community in the right direction.....

Michael Martinez

06/10/2014 04:29 pm

SEO is not, never has been, and never will be about building links or writing long whiney blog posts.

Jon Burnham

06/10/2014 04:30 pm

Michael - define it then.


06/10/2014 04:56 pm

The algo. predictions is how he gets a lot of his traffic. Otherwise he wouldn't be doing it :)


06/10/2014 04:59 pm

There's a lot of crap out there and I'm a bit on the lazy side. That's why I come here. You're my filter Barry.

Michael Martinez

06/10/2014 04:59 pm

I have been doing that for many years. But start with this glossary: And then browse this category:

Art L

06/10/2014 05:06 pm

You could have just said "I define SEO differently than most people". Nobody who knows what they are talking about is saying SEO alone is the end all and be all of modern marketing because it is not. It is, however, a really significant piece of how it all works these days. That's what the writings of Bill, Barry, Michael, Nick, and any other SEO worth a hoot will tell you if you pay attention. Many "marketers" do not address the big picture and just work within one subcategory of online marketing whether that is PR, social, search, email, print, broadcast... Some of those have a good grasp of the SEO skillset, but many do not, which is why there is still an industry known as SEO. I would argue that most good SEO's only use the term "SEO" to describe all of the online marketing things they do simply because Search is where most of the action has been, and "SEO" is the term most people know. Not inbound marketing, and not content marketing even though those may be more accurate terms... and "internet marketing" is often interpreted to mean the spammier side of things like affiliate marketing.


06/10/2014 05:08 pm

so SEO is just link building, got it.

Art L

06/10/2014 05:13 pm

Yet moz publishes articles about SEO every day. You could take a lesson from Rand Fishkin's explanation: "What we are not doing, and I am most certainly not doing, is giving up on the fight for the legitimacy, value, and importance of SEO. Organic search remains my personal passion, and one of the most powerful marketing channels in history. For as long as I'm active in the field, I will be shouting the value of SEO from the stages on which I present, the publications where I write, and the social channels where I share." I do agree that most people would be much happier if they worried less about Google and looked at the big picture and saw SEO as just one of the building blocks of marketing.

Jon Burnham

06/10/2014 05:26 pm

I am familiar with your blog, in which you exclaim (a lot) that SEO is not marketing and that 'link placement' is a part of the scene if I understand you correctly. And this ... You will notice I commented thus (2 years ago): ================ Michael – I really enjoy your generous contributions to SEO know-how. But this sounds like a tired and poor content post. Compared to your other posts, this suffers from single writer content exhaustion IMHO. It clearly illustrates the challenge facing the ‘smaller outfit’ – consistency of good stuff and how hard it is to maintain. Are you arguing that if an unknown J K Rowling had put her first book into a new blog, that is all she had to do ? Seems like it. Jon ============= The second point of which - I still have not had a satisfactory answer from you. Understanding is one thing - doing effectively is another. All the most successful campaigns I have bought into is because a human is in the chain and secondly, it has piqued my interest or desire. Amazon, better than most is the best example here. But ... I would not know about it if it was not for the big promotion budget that ensures my attention. Marketing or what?

Jon Burnham

06/10/2014 05:45 pm

SEO needs a rebrand. It's tarnished. This is my point. If I get one more email from a toxic link reporter - I will self-immolate - it's all far more unpleasant than it needs to be. I continue to push for site optimization - not SEO. As offsite is only available to those with lots of time, creative talent and usually very deep pockets. For the SME (SMB) - my advice - do only what you can control and as Aaron Wall advised - make sure you have alternative income streams other than search. Helping small businesses turn a regular buck/quid is now the hardest task online. I am sorry that many good 'consultants' can no longer afford to help them. Me included.

Jon Burnham

06/10/2014 05:56 pm

One more thing Art L. I HAVE lost a client's rankings to negative SEO. I did not spot it until it was too late and was a very clever dripping of bad links from all the wrong places. It was particularly pernicious as the link sources had other competitors in the content too. So this was a very effective method of attacking the many. And no, I can't provide evidence by link.


06/10/2014 05:57 pm

SERoundtable is like TMZ for the SEO world. Barry gets reports of ranking fluctuations from chicken little webmaster at Webmaster World and just prints everything and hopes that something sticks. All paparazzi journalism is the same, 90% speculation and 10% faaaaaact.

Jon Burnham

06/10/2014 06:12 pm

Organic search is absolutely fascinating and I agree that never before has such a powerful marketing method existed (or traffic channel if you're MM). But I am afraid it's now been sold down the river and maybe I am being too British (overly despondent). I feel that there is a big money agenda that will overule anything that even the greatest SEOs can do for the individualistic. The advent of negative SEO, blunderbuss Google penalties, social media pretenders, link detox companies and all the other crap is slowly turning the internet into today's typical High Street with only a handful of bland, amorphous companies ruling the roost. Plus people keep on turning over the same old mantras in tedious content, like dog turds in a forsaken garden.


06/10/2014 06:20 pm

LOL TMZ... Really? That's a bit much doncha think?


06/10/2014 06:36 pm

I like both TMZ and SE Roundtable, so yea.


06/10/2014 07:09 pm

"would work better now if traditional marketeers took charge of it" -- LOL That's the problem right there. Traditional markets are clueless and don't belong on the Internet. They need to go hide under a rock until they're extinct. The only thing they're good for is Mad Men.

Michael Martinez

06/10/2014 07:40 pm

"I understand you correctly." You don't. Of course SEO is marketing. And I don't have anything like tired old content posts. Unlike the whiners you seem to be influenced by, I haven't been devastated by all those Google algorithm changes. If you want to keep following the wrong advice, that's your business. But complaining about how Google is your enemy isn't SEO.


06/10/2014 08:52 pm

Most SEO blogs are regurgitated garble parroted, and reparroted by people who don't really know ANYTHING about website development which is where SEO begins. I'm so sick of terms like backlinks, articles, guest post, info graphics etc.... I could puke.

Ben Heligman

06/11/2014 05:15 am

This hilarious tweet pretty much sums up why SEO blogs are required #facepalmseo -->


06/11/2014 07:07 am

Holy shit! People are crazy! It isn't a robots.txt file... sucky part is that noise will only fuel negative SEO with shortlists of weaponized websites.


06/11/2014 07:09 am

72% of developers do puke at the sight of info graphics. Where is that blog post about the article that said so.


06/11/2014 07:10 am

I like Barry and all, but there isn't much actionable meat on this website. It is more click bait for a debate kind of content.


06/11/2014 07:12 am

Occational news with mostly comment debates... I'm already starting to burn out on it.


06/11/2014 07:21 am

Yeah but you also have no traffic.


06/11/2014 11:39 am

Well, if SEO is dead how can SEO writing survive unless the bloggers discuss the truth they so often try to avoid? I think if the SEO bloggers were a little more honest and forthcoming about what Google has done to small businesses, in an effort to squeeze more profits out of their dominant search engine, the bloggers might have more respect from webmasters. But reading post after post from bloggers who are obviously pro-Google and anti-common sense, gets a little boring after a while. What I'm getting at is Google's search results are no longer ordered by the best and most relevant webpages for a given query. Instead Google's search results are ordered to maximize profits for Google by displaying their own properties, partner websites and of course the many various companies that Google is an investor in through Google Ventures and Google Capital.

Michael Martinez

06/11/2014 01:56 pm

LOL! You wish.

Ben Guest

06/11/2014 04:00 pm

All SEO is these days is pretty titles and title descriptions to go along with your great, unique, quality content. If you do this then you'll rank as high as ever in the SERPs. *hits sarcasm key*

Ben Guest

06/11/2014 04:02 pm

Yeah, I really haven't seen Barry write anything unique that you can't find on about 1000 other websites. CHALLENGE! lol

Ben Guest

06/11/2014 04:03 pm

And that's why he took SEO out of the name. :-/


06/11/2014 04:28 pm

I believe we should differentiate bloggers from writers. Even though they write content on various topics, my friends who are bloggers would not be capable of writing a book, nor did they even think of doing it. Quality content should be a combination of skillful writing and the implementation of SEO techniques. Thus we can't say that bloggers or writers should go away, because the combination is how one creates content that is considered valuable and that will be shared.

Paul Caudell

06/12/2014 08:38 am

To be honest this is just another one of those 'what is SEO' discussions. Learning about online marketing in general has been part of an SEOs daily life for years(and years), it's nothing new. If someone is stupid enough to be ignoring content, CRO, UX and social for this long...they are stupid.


06/12/2014 04:44 pm

I guess you're right, it isn't really an Enemy, it's sort of like that Ally that you wish would behave because it keeps on testing your alliance by somehow introducing new sanctions, or sanctions 2.0, 3 etc... and somehow you're still friends? But if you're not their Ally then you won't succeed? It's a very complicated relationship and that's probably why it's easier to just call them an Enemy because they're a royal pain.

Michael Martinez

06/12/2014 08:37 pm

The relationship would be less complicated if people stopped pretending that trying to game Google is the same as optimizing for search. Gaming search engines isn't illegal. It's just high risk. But people should at least be honest enough to take responsibility for the risks they incur with their business decisions. Google didn't force anyone to make those choices.

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