elephant-in-the-room

Truth time, SEOs.

Have you ever, even for a moment, forgotten about people when you were working on a campaign?

I know, I know. You don't want to admit it, but you know it's happened.

There are times when the shimmer of a different kind of code blinds us. A fad or a "trick to fool the engines" dares to be tried. A shortcut begs to be taken because you're too overloaded and too overwhelmed to dedicate the time, energy, and resources to doing things the way you wish you could.

We've all been there. We've all had moments where we've faltered and forgotten about what's really important in SEO: reaching real people. We've avoided things we absolutely know to be true for all sort of reasons, and in the end, it only causes harm.

  • It hurts our profession because we don't produce the quality of work we know we should be producing.
  • It hurts our clients because we're not delivering value or communicating well.
  • It hurts the user because it creates more din for them to sort through.

So, it's good to give yourself a gentle reminder from time to time to remember what really matters, even if it's what's stressing you out and causing you grief at the moment. Here are some the truths we all seem to forget when it comes to SEO, but we all need to remember to survive:

  • People know when they're being lied to. They may not know immediately, but they will eventually figure it out. If you're lying to your readers in your copy, you're failing. This is a communication 101 thing, folks. If you're lying to your readers, your customers, your clients – it will come back to bite you. Don't make things up, don't try to trick or fool people or search engines, and don't try to promise something you know you can't deliver.
  • Quality trumps quantity. Always. It's easy to churn out crappy content in volume. It's easy to buy crappy links. It's difficult to write something that truly inspires, sells, or motivates. It's difficult to build meaningful relationships that can result in exposure, and yes, sometimes a link for your site. But like it or not, quality will always win over quantity in a sustainable SEO strategy. Stop whining and start doing. There's a reason why Google Panda and Google Penguin updates happen. Quality will always be the most important thing for us to strive for.
  • SEO is more than just optimizing for search engines. Rand Fishkin's post on SEOmoz and Mitch Causey's take on Slingshot SEO's blog touch on this issue well. SEOs don't just need to know how to optimize. We also need to know how to build an effective content strategy. How to know what we're looking at in a site's backend. How to install and modify code. How to include SEO as an element in an overall marketing strategy. How to build brands and manage communities. How to tell the difference between correlation and causation. We are no longer just SEOs. We are copywriters, bloggers, programmers, analysts, detectives, artists, architects, marketers, coaches, brand builders, community managers, social media specialists, and public relations professionals wrapped into one. We need to understand how SEO works with the rest of the universe.

These are just a few common truths that some SEOs ignore, both consciously and unconsciously. If we all understood and acted upon these basic truths, maybe we wouldn't have so many bad examples in our industry. Maybe we wouldn't have a perception that all we do is spam. Maybe we shouldn't have to jump in fear every time Google makes an algorithm change. Unfortunately, we're not the only industry that experiences this problem. All industries are subject to cutting corners, taking shortcuts, and ignoring the facts in pursuit of goals. But we can make an effort to be more conscious of it.

What other truths do we have a tendency to forget? What have you forgotten at one point or another?

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