I'm sure I'm not the only one who's tired of seeing posts like "Social Media is the New SEO" or "Content Marketing is the New SEO". In fact, Google shows 4.64 million results for the query "intitle:is the new seo".
Obviously, there aren't that many different posts out there with that in their title... it just seems like it sometimes. But there are also 3,080 results returned for inurl:is-the-new-seo, so it would seem that a lot of authors are eager to see SEO redefined.
Let's get something straight, people: There is no "new SEO"!
SEO is search engine optimization, period. Channels come and go or rise and fall in popularity, but that doesn't change what SEO is any more than adding a row of tomatoes to your garden redefines agriculture.
Is it Too Hard?
A few years ago, when I decided that RDFa was a great way to help the search engines understand what a page's content was about, I soon noticed that adoption was pretty sparse. I never noticed anybody penning any blog posts proclaiming it to be the new SEO.
I think the reason for that is pretty simple... it's not easy. It requires considerable effort to learn and implement. Sure, it has lots of benefits, but too many people are more interested in benefits that require as little effort as possible. For most people, RDFa didn't fit the bill.
What catches on quickly are things like Pinterest and Twitter. They require a lot less effort than learning a new markup language. Developers have even gone so far as to create single-button browser add-ons to Pin an image or Tweet a page. A really tough job made so much easier, right?
Before social became the SEO du jour, we saw a spate of folks bellowing about content marketing (some still are). There have been times when some voices were touting forum signatures, blog comments, even press releases, as well.
And of course, the cacophony of posts and websites praising guest blogging is just now beginning to subside a bit. That's a rant for another day, though.
My point is, I think people take the easy way out in a lot of things... what they do and what they write.
Why Make it Too Easy?
SEO has an almost non-existent barrier to entry. Folks that have barely learned to spell SEO declare themselves experts, and proceed to lead unsuspecting clients down the garden path with abandon, probably chuckling all the way to their PayPal screen.
Giving people like that fodder for their "marketing" ploys, where they push techniques that are easily automated (and detected) does each of us and our field an injustice. We are, in effect, lowering the bar, by allowing such idiotic redefinitions to go unchallenged.
Still, there are posts to be found on any given day, either pushing a technique that's been around for too long already or one that never saw the smart end of the stupid-stick. And the authors either don't think about or don't care that there are many people that read whatever they can find, to learn more about a topic. Often, they can't tell the crap from the gold.
So Really, What's so Difficult?
What is it about the Internet that's so different, that makes people think they can say whatever they want, and never be held accountable? Years ago, most of us would have thought twice before showing our ignorance in a Letter to the Editor to the local paper – but not on the Internet!
Is it so difficult to be responsible in the tacit advice we offer? That's what it is, after all – advice. With multitudes of people searching online for information, is there some logical reason to believe that it's OK to publish crappy information that'll be seen as advice? If so, I'm not seeing it.
The Internet will sort itself out, eventually, when more users realize how much garbage is published every day and begin holding people responsible for what they say. Whether it the New York Times or Aunt Susie's Blogging Corner, we need to call out the purveyors of wrong information, shoddy journalism, or spammy tactics.
It's either that or endure more and more of it. I know what my choice is. Do you?
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!