Google's Penguin and Panda updates have created a sea of turmoil. But before you jump ship, or jump to conclusions, let's look at the current paradox of Enterprise SEO. Specifically, should Search Marketing Strategies turn towards content marketing and social media by copywriters rather than utilizing SEOs, who are often oversimplified as link builders? This blog will provide a matrix for Web Marketing Managers to analyze Enterprise SEO and the fundamental causes resulting in change. Additionally, we will discuss how you can apply this tool to your Search Marketing Strategy.

Panda and Penguin Defined

Panda is "designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites-sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites-sites with original content and information."

Penguin is increasingly targeting inbound links, demoting sites/pages that appear to have unnatural inbound links.

Is SEO Changing?

Perhaps this SEO mutiny began at SXSW, where Google's Matt Cutts commented on the purpose of the recent updates, saying:

'So all those people who have sort of been doing, for lack of a better word, "over optimization" or "overly" doing their SEO, compared to the people who are just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site, we want to sort of make that playing field a little bit more level.' Matt Cutts went on to say, "we try to make our relevance more adaptive so that people don't do SEO."

This statement conceivably introduces the logical question of things that grow. Is SEO changing? The response to this proposition is bound to create a dichotomy between web marketing professionals who believe SEO remains viable and people who feel SEO is no longer the same.

Google's Panda update contributes largely to this rising dichotomy between Web Marketing Managers. Specifically, Panda's ranking of sites by original content and information. You can also see an increased value of social media in Google Analytics' Social Reports and cutting-edge platforms like BrightEdge who have partnered with Facebook and Twitter. If original content and social media are burgeoning forms of in-bound link strategy, perhaps it is time to introduce social and copywriter teams? For SEOs, this obviously opens the door to some philosophical debates.

Before responding to this schism of opinion, I want to frame our question, is SEO changing, by borrowing from two men who have yet to receive the credit they deserve from the SEO world: Plutarch and Aristotle. Today, we are going to take a look at how ancient Greek philosophical systems can be used to determine change in the field of Enterprise SEO. Particularly, we will review the Ship of Theseus paradox. And then we'll modernize the paradox, borrowing the name of another famous ship, The Enterprise.

Plutarch's Lives

The paradox was first raised by Plutarch:

"The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned [from Crete] had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians ., for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same."
-Plutarch, Theseus

The Ship of Theseus aka The SEO Enterprise

According to the philosophical system of Aristotle, there are four causes used to understand how fundamental causes result in change. These causes have been used by Managers in different fields of business, sports and even music to determine if change has occurred. {ex. What causes to the Rolling Stones would result in a change, i.e. How would they cease to be the Rolling Stones? Replacing Mick Jagger? Or, why have they remained constant despite exchanging 6 past members?}

First, we will identify the "four causes" using the Ship of Theseus paradox. Next, we will apply these causes to the SEO Enterprise paradox.

  • The formal cause or form is the design of a thing. The "what-it-is" of a thing, but not to be confused with the matter used to construct it.
  • The material cause is the matter that the thing is made of, i.e. the planks.
  • The efficient cause is how and by whom a thing is made, for example, the methods artisans used to fabricate and assemble the Ship of Theseus, the workers who built the ship.
  • The final cause is the intended purpose of a thing. In this case, The Ship of Theseus' purpose was transporting Theseus.

Ship of Theseus


For Enterprise SEOs, these causes can be applied for your own solution to the paradox.

  • Has the design of SEO changed? Is the formal cause the same? It still explores how search engines work, people's search queries, and the actual search terms.
  • The material cause refers to the planks: keywords, meta data, image tags, anchor text, urls, backlinks. In this sense, are SEO planks the same? How do Google Updates affect your planks? If you were using Black Hat tactics, then you will need to replace planks. Panda and Penguin updates reiterate link relevancy. So your planks should remain, if you were using White Hat tactics.
  • The efficient cause may or may not be changing, this depends on the strategy. Do you incorporate a new fabricator? Link builder vs. Copywriter? Or is there a synthesis?
  • The final cause remains: SEO's purpose is to improve the visibility on search engine results pages (SERP).

The idea behind the SEO Enterprise paradox is for you to determine if Google's updates (or future updates) have created a need for YOU to change YOUR Search Marketing Strategies. It is an opportunity to identify the fundamental cause behind your Enterprise SEO. By associating your own causes you can decide how to best move forward. Therefore, the SEO Enterprise is a standing example among the Web Marketing Managers "for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same."

Is it time to jump ship?

Remember that for the SEO Enterprise, similar to the Ship of Theseus, the replacing of the planks takes place while the ship is at sea. Therefore, it is a constant process. But how do we navigate through Google's tumultuous peaks and troughs? Our North Star is Domain Authority. And yes, The SEO Enterprise's future is belayed by new tools and techniques, recently: original content, social media, and link relevancy. But, it is healthy for Web Marketing Managers to debate whether it is still the same ship.

Furthermore, SEOs should welcome the copywriters onboard. Not to avoid SEO Enterprise's commandeering, but because in this increasingly competitive world of search marketing we need all hands on deck. The efficient cause should involve a synthesis. I would implore you to adapt this approach to the challenges of Search Engine Optimization. And, explore the idea of creating a dynamic response that combines the intuitive approach of both copywriters and SEOs. Algorithms may alter the course, but it isn't time to jump ship.

*Theseus' name comes from the same root ("thesmos") as the Greek for "institution". He was responsible for the synoikismos ("dwelling together") and was referred to as the unifying king.


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