What is SEO? – Cowboy Hat and Internet Ethics
Joshua Fletcher on Vimeo, May 2016 Edited and transcribed by Megan Lee, Monterey Bay SEO at MLeeWeb.com, and used by permission.
This is one of the biggest and most important questions that I get asked on a daily basis – “What is SEO?”
When I first started answering that question, most of what I said covered the results of SEO and how it’s done. The results of SEO are getting people’s websites to the top of the search engine result pages, and the money that comes in from being on Page One listings. The people we take on as clients want their websites at the top, they want to be found by customers who are looking for them, customers who have a problem that needs to be solved.
So how do you do that? – It includes making your web page content less confusing to Google and drawing attention to the parts of your content that really explain who you are and what your business is. If you’re in the SEO industry, you know that means optimizing the on-page content, and then getting links to it. This begs the question, probably the biggest question in the SEO industry, which is, “While hat? Black hat? Grey hat? – what does it really mean?”
As best I can tell, there really isn’t a line in the sand that you can draw. There’s people talking about PBNs (public blog networks), there’s people talking about link outreach and link-building tools, there’s talk about content marketing – and what they’re all missing is the fact that to be the best you have to be willing to do whatever it takes. And so, the SEO that I do is “Cowboy hat” SEO! – Whatever it takes.
Cowboy hat SEO is an important concept – I’m not just trying to brand myself as some type of cowboy here. There’s a lot of people who miss trying to learn SEO because they’re following a technique, but they lack the understanding of how the internet actually works. They wind up getting sold some program by a business guru who is teaching them a business model, as opposed to teaching them the knowledge they need to rank.
Don’t get misled into thinking that you can follow a model that’s always going to change just because someone turned it into a brand and they’re selling it. Black hat versus white hat versus grey hat – the only line that I can see that you could draw between these is content. For example, if I’m buying a PBN versus buying a link – the only difference is content. And most of the content that people are selling that these branded programs are based around can be outsourced for $5.00 on Fiverr, or $20. on Upwork, or they hire someone who doesn’t know anything about a topic to write an article or create an infographic that has no meaning, no authority, and no value.
Get to the point where your focus in SEO is to take something that is truly valuable and authoritative, and get it in front of people – not shoving something that shouldn’t be seen in the first place into a top position in the search engines. That’s the difference I see. You’ve got a responsibility in SEO on what you rank. Don’t rank crap. That’s my rant! – Talk with you again soon.
Owner of SearchExplosion.com
Coach at OMG Machines