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If you want to catch yourself up on this lively series of comments go to my 7/20/2012 article that trended to #1 on Forbes:
Submitted on 2012/07/25 at 12:25 am | In reply to Kristine Schachinger.

 

Kristine,

The number one trending article on Forbes by Ken Krogue, "The Death of SEO: The Rise of Social, PR, and Real Content"

What a lively discussion brings, how ironic – The number one trending article on Forbes, “The Death of SEO: The Rise of Social, PR, and Real Content”

Let’s look at it in another light for a moment. This will be my final response in this conversation, we are starting to talk in circles, and that is always a point of diminishing returns.

(I also thought it would be fun to illustrate the discussion we are having with some real screen shots of the very topics we are addressing in action, the power of publicity, social, and real content.)

By the way, thanks to you, Chris, Danny and many others for assuming that all you need to do is provide remedial education for those of us who run businesses for a living, but that misses the point.

It seems the solid arguments by SEO experts in this conversation show that internal, online, or technical SEO is where the value is trending upwards. I’ll give you that. Real, great content better be formatted according to rules learned and perfected in the SEO community. But that becomes elements of the content already onsite.

And the argument is strong that real content providers better learn the craft of SEO to get their content noted. Granted.

But please, note that I use the phrase “real content”, not just great content. People are tired of the fake and counterfeit, even if it is a great counterfeit. The common SEO tactic of spreading mediocre content all over the web just to drive backlinks is what I am calling counterfeit. Buying, trading, or manipulating backlinks is what I call fake.

Strong research, great copy writing, compelling video, interested social communities, publicity, intriguing design, journalism, etc., is content that originated from other disciplines, yet the SEO industry is adopting them all for their own and then saying they are “SEO”. And that good “SEO” covers everything.

I had my furnace replaced several years ago. The heating and AC guy who came to my house was amazing. In addition to learning HVAC, he mentioned he had also learned to be an electrician, a carpenter, and a plumber. They used to bring in electricians, carpenters, and plumbers also, but nowadays he can do it all to service the customer most effectively. Those are four separate disciplines now converging to one, but don’t mistake the disciplines.

#1 Most Popular article on Forbes Home Page - July 24, 2012 - The Death of SEO

#1 Most Popular article on Forbes Home Page – July 24, 2012 – The Death of SEO – Illustrating the power of social, publicity, and real content

SEO needs to own its original methods, for bad and for good (or for black and for white). Sad to say, the bad parts in the SEO world were so bad (and still are, notwithstanding professionals who seem to focus on the good), that no self-respecting social media or PR practitioner would claim to be an SEO. Yet SEOs in this very conversation claim ownership of social media, PR, and much more and say it is all “SEO”.

Sometimes companies burn a brand so badly that they tank it and start over with a new name. If you read the comments in this thread, that recommendation has come up many times (and not by me). Perhaps we should drop the SEO moniker and start over. SEO as an industry name or brand carries a lot of baggage.

It also really worries me that you say the industry dismisses the philosophical or ethical questions of black hat as merely a method that even professionals might use as long as it is with permission from the customer. And I am saddened as I realize the potential impact of negative SEO. These are a slippery slope. That is just another version of the excuse, “sorry, it’s not personal, it’s just business.”

What are we without ethics?

And do you remember the title that sparked all this?

#1 ranked article in Google - using PR and no SEO backlinks

#1 ranked article in Google – using PR and no external SEO backlinks (other than those created organically by readers)

“The Death of SEO: The Rise of Social, PR, and Real Content.”

Translated it might say, “The death of traditional SEO methods: the rise of social, PR, and real content.”

All of your arguments seem to be pointed to exactly what the title says now that we seem to agree more on definitions.

I think it was Socrates who said, “the beginning of wisdom is a definition of terms.”

It has been a pleasure interacting with you. You brought a certain level of class to the discussion that lifted you above the crowd of even the professionals, though it took a little nudge to get beyond your first comment. I needed a few nudges as well, thank you.

But I’m afraid, though more educated, I’m still of the original opinion.

As for me and mine…

And when the end of summer of 2014 comes around, I will eagerly look to see that SEO as we knew it is dead, and something new and better has taken it’s place. I’m hopeful that you and your colleagues will lead the way.

Respectfully – Ken

PS: Maybe between now and then Matt Cutts will help us add to this conversation. Matt?

Top 30 Articles on www.KenKrogue.com (with total views) and a Summary of Ken’s Forbes Articles

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  13. Inside Sales Training – 1,888 Views
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  15. Inside Sales Tips – Skip to the Beep – 1,392 Views
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  28. What is Lead Response Management – 573 Views
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  30. Josh James Shares 36 Startup Rules – 399 Views

A Complete Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes Articles, Including his newly updated “Definition of Inside Sales” and his #1 on all of Forbes (and most controversial) article “The Death of SEO

Author: Ken Krogue | Follow me on Google+
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

 


A little more about Ken...

http://www.linkedin.com/in/kenkrogue | http://twitter.com/kdkrogue

46 thoughts on “My Final Comment on my “Death of SEO” column on Forbes

  1. Hi Mr Ken,

    Learn the defnitions of terms you are using first properly. Your caption has caused all these problems. You agreed tat!!! Kudos. You know that “Rise of social, PR, and real content” all these also part of SEO. Absolutely U r crazy to use the term “Death of SEO”.

    Thanks..

  2. Quick comment – first though thank you for the post. Very thoughtful of you.

    Second you are #1 for many reasons, but it has more to do with site strength, comments, freshness etc. See SEO not just content :) Will explain more later and respond as I can .. have Blackhat Conference today, so have to go off grid in a little while.

    Been fun! Thanks for the debate!
    Smiles!

  3. Ken…sorry I missed the lively discussion, but I hate arguing with the SEO folks. We agree 100% with the premise. We also saw that business owners and CEOs were having difficulty coming up with the time to write their own content, yet the words that come out of their mouths are often the most real, relevant and valuable. So, we built a company to capture them by pairing them up with a professional radio broadcaster who interviews them for the content. We think it’s pretty cool and our clients do too.

  4. I think its funny that in once instance you say that social, pr, good content are now important for search engine rankings, then in another you say that these things are not SEO. If these things will help improve your search rankings then I’m sorry but they ARE SEO, that’s what SEO means.

    Black hat simply means that its against Google’s guidelines. This has nothing to do with ethics, Google is merely a company, not a source of ethical principles and guidelines.

    You can’t blame SEOs and businesses for using manipulative techniques if they still work.

  5. SEO isn’t dead, its just gotten more expensive. The resources for social media, PR and making a better product are not within the financial means of 90% of most businesses. Without giving purposeful attention to search signals and user experience (part of the ranking algorithm) many businesses would not just drop in rank for critical keywords, but would go out of business altogether. Thank God some less expensive content strategies still exist.

  6. SEO just got a bit trickier. Social is the new key here whether we like it or not. So what do us SEOers need to refer to us as now?

  7. I agree with Steve. There is a wide range of expenses to “real content.” It’s like saying a “real car.” There are a lot of varying prices among cars – are you talking about a used Dodge Dart or a new Cadillac Escalade? Both can get you from point A to point B, it’s just a matter of how you want to get there. Small businesses have to fight to stay afloat, and online ROI is no different than brick and mortar ROI. Affordable and effective “SEO” will be around until “real content” is affordable for everyone.

  8. Hey Ken ! I am not sure that you really know anything about SEO. It was not about just gathering links only or making more shitty things for your website to get ranked on Google. SEO was always about the promotion of your business or your information. There were some certain ways to promote your stuffs on internet and get ranked. But now the business is evolving itself with more standardization. And the way business changing itself the business strategies should change by the same way. SEO will be alive until the online business is alive but just the change will happen with strategies.”SEO is not dying,It is raising with more standard ways”
    You can change your title with “The Raise of SEM”

  9. I totally agree with your thoughts and I believe that Google can move into the mind of users and avoid the SEO manipulation over time. Social signals work and so does good content.

  10. I think that one of the major hang-ups in the industry is what exactly constitutes SEO? For the longest time, SEO has been content, links, and keywords. But examine the full name: “Search Engine Optimization”. Where in that title does it say, “keywords”, “content”, “links”… nowhere. SEO is simply optimizing your site for the search engines to parse it and index it properly. Keywords, content, and links were all viable tactics to make this happen. Now that many of these methods have been abused, new methods have been put in place.

    It’s important to understand that even though SEO has moved outside the realm of link builders and content marketers, the fact of that matter is that it is still SEO. ANYTHING that aims to improve your visibility online is technically SEO.

    As long as there are search engines and competition, SEO will not die.

  11. Hi Ken

    Just one question: Who gets to decide its great content? You, me?

    Is content in a forum about used cars helping people identify a problem or avoiding a lemon not great content to that user, even if it is full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors?

    SEO isn’t an alternative to content, its about understanding how data is indexed

    You’re looking at this from a media perspective (which I respect). But how much more readership do you have via Google than via printed form? What about people in India, Africa, Asia who can read your articles but can’t afford a copy of the magazine?

  12. Ken,
    I’ve followed the full discussion and agree once again that ‘real’ content is king. But I think one of the most profound things you raised (sadly) was the question and point about ethics. People know that gaming a system is wrong. But since there’s no authority to publicly police the process people feel they’re getting away with something. And corporations are happy to encourage the behavior by paying SEO ‘experts’ to game the system for them. The JC Penny story last year is a case in point. Penguin was some time in coming and hopefully will continue to weed out the outliers. Thank you again for the original article and the ensuing discussion. i do hope you were able to enjoy some part of your vacation.

  13. I agree with you Ken – it is all about community, clout and branding. If Google organic generates more than 60% of your business – panic! Its a danger zone that can go pear shaped at anytime. Invest in diverse digital marketing channels, above the line marketing & PR. As much as I do ‘SEO’ my most successful clients are decent brands or companies with a focus on building their brands. SEO eases the process.

  14. Hi Ken,

    You started a discussion and now you’re not interested in the replies because you never were. You represent the unidirectional media-as-a-channel and you’re upset that other people now have equal opportunity to voice their opinion and that their opinion has as much weight as yours.

    Matt Cutts probably won’t join this discussion because it has nothing to do with SEO. It has everything to do with ego however – and the disjointed ego that journalists have because now everybody is a journalist. And the myth that journalists are genetically superior beings who have the power to make opinion fact now no longer matters.

    Your posts are nothing but emotion. You don’t like SEO and you draw on emotional evidence like “5 years is too long, more like 2″. Why is 5 years too long? Are we running out of time? Is there an empirical need to get rid of “SEO” ?

    SEO is SEO – and it’s whatever Google wants to make of it. As long as you don’t understand it, you will forever be afraid of it. “Facts should never get in the way of a good article” would have been as good a blog post.

    SEO is about presentation of content – the quality of which is user determined. The lack of control over channel and its loss is actually being pushed further apart by the chasm of “lack of factual information” and the human condition.

    People have always had opinions but journalists were convinced that theirs mattered. Blogs, Google and the internet have “conspired” to level the playing ground and we now have to bear the brunt of the death throes of “journalism as a protected professional career on it’s own” (again, a much more suitable blog title which would be very well recieved by its audience if not slightly unpopular with its author).

    In the same week as your attention grabbing headline (7 years old as a plot) – a local Irish PR company commented on the death of SEO on twitter – again completely devoid of facts. In fact he’d commented on that Social has now replaced SEO because a local online digital media publication had shown that Google+ sends less traffic than twitter and facebook. The publisher, thankfully, came out and made it clear that Google was indeed their best friend.

    TechCrunch article pumper Sarah Perez would also like us to believe that her article isn’t the latest in “I’m in PR and hate Google but here’s a [non-] factual article headline to backup my view even if it isn’t real and I’m just making it up to suit my position.” Through a series of editorial process it ended up being entitled “Pinterest Traffic Passes Google Referrals, Bing, Twitter & StumbleUpon”

    Sarah would have been just fine if she left it there. No doubt, thousands of upset PR types – who are now no longer the gate keepers to the channel masters (i.e. journalists) would have rowed in with more feeling-based-opinion-facts. Except that Sarah published a great big number in the middle. Turns out that not only is Google referrer growing faster than Pinterest but Google itself is bigger than all of the social media sites COMBINED!

    Here is the said article: http://techcrunch.com/2012/07/09/pinterest-now-beating-google-referral-traffic-plus-bing-twitter-stumbleupon/

    The problem with social media and the gospel according to it is that the facts are there. I have 3000 followers on twitter. I’d love to know what DS stands for in my BMW 6 series but alas absolutely nobody I know on twitter, facebook or Linkedin has one. Making them all utterly useless to the actual reality of getting facts not opinion that I need to solve this minor personal dilemna. But Google knew thousands of Bimmer enthusiasts that I have absolutely no connection with who were completely capable of answering it for me. It stands for “fun” and I like that.

  15. David,

    I am deeply interested in the replies. I wouldn’t have stayed up well past midnight each evening for over a week (while I was on vacation in the mountains of New Mexico.)

    But I found the arguments were becoming circular, and few people had followed the string to the end, so they were rehashing closed discussions. Which is understandable and happens with that many comments. I think you will find we addressed most of what you bring up.

    So I brought things to a close from my perspective, and because I have a day job and the President and Co-Founder of InsideSales.com and have a company to help run. The comments keep coming though, so feel free to jump in if you choose.

    But please don’t make conclusions about me or my motives for writing. Thank you. Oh, and have fun in your BMW :).

    Regards – Ken

  16. Pingback: The Death of SEO (Part 2): Generating Real Content | Social Media News

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  23. I find it funny how it’s usually people who know nothing (very little) about SEO that write “SEO is dead” articles.

  24. Pingback: The Death of SEO (Part 2): Generating Real Content | Social Network Tips

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  26. “In God we trust; all others must bring data.”

    Everyone is entitled to their perspective and opinion. An opinion and perspective based on proven data is a solid one indeed. Data is starting to support Ken’s article.

    Great article/posts Ken!

  27. Pingback: The Death of SEO? | CommAREus: New Media Design

  28. Important Points
    * People will always have to search.
    * Simply because gazillions of morons claim to be SEO consultants and engage in black hat methods, spam, etc. – does NOT mean these actions nor morons equate to what SEO actually is.

    “Circular” arguments and replies? Nay, circular logic is the very basis for this whole thing. Forcing the argument for a win by forcing incorrect definitions upon what things are or are not, etc. this is the problem.

    “Social media, PR, blah blah is the new SEO” B$. Let’s say this were magically true and all of the SEO people came to the light and became these new PR, SMO wizzes…And then they begin (as they have years ago) to SPAM all over the place, sneaking non-news into news and all of the other annoying crap. Then do we go in and repeat this whole process over again…PR is dead! SMO is dead!

    Uh huh….

  29. Pancho,
    I think it is sad how little thought goes into a comment that attacks the person, not their message. Come on, you can do better than that, can’t you?

    Ken

  30. Hi Ken –

    Personal attacks: You had no problem calling our career dead?

    In fairness, I’ve made a living from SEO (as in selling my own products and services as well as others) for 12 years. Last week we flew to the UK to see a client who build really big ships that we’ve been working with for 12 years.

    I understand that people want channels and control back and that they don’t understand SEO and some don’t like the industry at all. But here’s the thing you have ignored consistently: The User chose search over newspaper/media.

    Media: The person you have to make happy = the editor. The editor controls the media channel. So the opinion, the amount (or lack) of detail is up to the editor and the author.

    Search: The user is king. The user can opt to find as much detail as they want or as little. They can find someone who shares their opinion, challenges it or changes it. They do not want to be told what to think.

    I’m sorry – but you can convince yourself that its dead, but best wishes on the global trek to convince 4 billion search users that you want them to just listen to you :)

  31. Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your content seem to be running off the screen in Opera.
    I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know. The design and style look great though! Hope you get the problem fixed soon. Thanks

  32. Pingback: Blog | R.I.P SEO

  33. Test your site Ken…

    Warning: Missing argument 2 for wpdb::prepare(), called in /var/www/vhosts/kenkrouge.com/httpdocs/wp-content/themes/inove/footer.php on line 22 and defined in /var/www/vhosts/kenkrouge.com/httpdocs/wp-includes/wp-db.php on line 990

  34. Sebastian,

    Thanks, but who uses Opera? Just kidding. I’ll look into it. I use WordPress, but maybe some plugin is conflicting.

    ken

  35. Thanks for this very insightful three part series.

    As a writer, essayist and blogger and someone who believes quality and original content should reign supreme, I’m not terribly surprised by the de-ranking and demise of SEO.

    Panda threw content writers into a tailspin but this was a necessary tipping point as the garbage out there was stinking up the Internet and destroying the rep of solid, quality writers. I was writing for Suite101 for years and on the brink of making some decent money when the algorithm killed it. After I recovered from my outrage and temper tantrum I realized this had to happen.

    Suite recently rebranded and their new model is a niche community, no ad revenue, purely engaging writers and readers inside micro communities. I need to make some money so I don’t have time to write for free beyond my own website/blog.

    Your thesis makes good common sense, as all basic truths do: People want genuine and original content that entertains or fills a need. The sign of superb content, beyond phenom writing and stellar research (which I appreciate) is social engagement, shares, getting a community to talk about your content, brand, etc.

    Bottom line, you can’t generate online crap for too long because it begins to stink up the entire joint and Google Oz figured that out. Thank God for tipping points; the balance always returns. Quality and integrity should always reign supreme to serve the consumer, IMO.

    p.s. As a former marketing professional, I agree, we are in the business of lying but here’s the thing, you never need to lie when your product or service is spectacular.

  36. Laura,

    I agree, spectacular products make it all worth it. That’s why I’m still here! Ken

  37. Hello there Ken,

    I was very pleased to read your article which was easy to read and understandable. There’s so much content about SEO that you stop reading after a few sentence. This was not one of those articles. And this also points out exactly what you were saying. Good content creates action and more people start to follow. Now you got a one new ‘real’ follower :) Severi

  38. Hi Ken;
    thanks from the bottom of my heart in the sense that it seems forever that I have been deleting spam from my blog/comments. Does this mean that I can finally start to spend my time on meaningful content?

    I mean I understand the importance of SEO but it shouldn’t mean that people like us that simply want the internet to be a better place should suffer…

    Thanks for your input.

    Regards;

    D. Johns

    Canada

  39. Pingback: The Death Of SEO: The Rise Of Social, PR, And Real Content | Creativehead

  40. SEO is a generic enough term on it’s own that there is plausibility in saying anything they do that helps improve search engine rankings is SEO.

    Just having relevant content that a user was looking for is now suddenly SEO. And that’s all Google wants to give its users: relevance. The techniques used to game the system to give us irrelevant content are dead.

  41. Hi Ken,

    I’ve tried to follow most of the discussions you’ve had throughout this post and the Forbes article. I have to say I disagree with your assertions regarding the death of SEO. The entire premise behind SEO is helping websites optimize and rank higher in search results. There’s no definitive list of things we do, or don’t do, as part of our industry.

    You state that it’s time for “The rise of social, PR, and ‘real’ content.” The problem I have with that statement is that these things have always been part of what a good SEO professional does and has always done. There are people in the SEO industry that are good at their job, and those that aren’t. The good ones have always known those methods are important

    Your editor, Gary, suggested you look into credible sources to find your information next time. Hopefully you’ve been doing that research. Here’s the latest search ranking factors, present by Moz.com and Rand Fishkin, both recommended as experts by Gary: http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/5228cb9544fcd1.22091855.jpg

    As you can see from the ranking factors, social metrics only comprise a small 7.24% of the rank influencing factors Google uses.

    You try to narrow down “real content” and “counterfeit content” throughout your statements. This is a good way to look at it, but some of the definitions are incorrect. Writing blogs and articles of good informational value, and placing them strategically throughout the internet is a great way of boosting a site’s ranking. I ask you, what’s wrong with sharing relevant content with people, and giving them a way to connect to the source of the content (through keyword backlinks)? If the content is useful, there’s nothing wrong with this. If the content is not original and is erroneously dispersed on a large scale, then that’s a problem. If blogs and articles are written that aren’t on a professional level, it’s still ok. Because that content may be beneficial to someone, and that’s the whole point.

    The purpose for generating the content varies. The content should be written because it’s beneficial to the people who may read it and it will help them see the source (client site) as an authority figure. The amount of content written, and how often new content is written, is often done with SEO in mind. The fact is simple, relevant content created on a regular basis is better for SEO. So although the thought process may be “I need to write more content” because it will help my rankings, the end result should be “real” content.

    For example, the reason you wrote the Forbes article (both articles) may be because you felt it’s relevant content. However, the same content could have been written because you wanted to generate backlinks to your personal site (which you did), which will help your SEO (which it has). It doesn’t take away from the quality of the content itself. It’s SEO, whether you see it that way or not. It also helped generate tons of traffic to your site, which is also beneficial for SEO and a reason the technique is used.

    In the search ranking factors linked above, you’ll notice that backlinks, internal linking and content are the main contributing factors. So this goes to show that generating those links from other sources is possibly the single most important tool in helping a site rank, at 20.94%.

    You state in the article that “black hat” is bad and “white hat” is good. Yes and No. When SEO started, some techniques were more effective than others. Techniques such as generating as many links as possible (no matter where they came from) and stuffing keywords into your site, were very effective. Google used to count the number of links and number of times a site mentioned a keyword. It then used those numbers to determine whether or not a site was better than the next. Once Google decided that wasn’t an accurate way to assess a site’s worth, it changed its algorithm to penalize such techniques. This led people to create the term “black hat”. Anything that Google has decided they want to penalize sites for has slowly made its way into the “black hat” category. There are many companies who choose to utilize these techniques to get as much traffic as they can, before they’re penalized. It helps many companies earn lots of money. But it’s only Google that determined these techniques were “bad”. The ethical merit of these techniques really doesn’t play into anyone’s actual moral character; unless as Kristine mentioned, it’s done without the business owner knowing the risk.

    I think when it boils down to it, your definition of what an SEO is and does, is skewed. You can suggest we change the name of our industry, but it’s not going to happen. Some people change their title because so many people who are uninformed about what an SEO professional is and tells the world that they’re bad or that it’s a dying industry, has given us a bad name.

    For anyone who wants to be successful in the online marketing, inbound marketing, content marketing, social marketing world (which are all just other terms for SEO), you have to incorporate all aspects of the industry. Content creation, social marketing, link generating, internal site content, site structure, and much more, are all part of a good SEO professionals job.

    As Google has made very clear, things will change over time. Some techniques will be praised, while others will be deemed (by Google and no moral authority) to be less than optimal and will be shoved into the “Black hat” category.

    Its been a year since you wrote this article and anyone stating that SEO is even remotely close to being dead, is incorrect. Changing with the tides is part of the job and incorporating social into that job is important. But, to think that for some reason the other aspects of the industry are becoming any less important is ignorant. Not that you’re ignorant, because I don’t believe that to be true, but the lack of consideration of the entire industry is ignorant.

    SEO is not dead and still helps many business become profitable and grow.

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  43. Everyone is entitled to their perspective and opinion. An opinion and perspective based on proven data is a solid one indeed. Data is starting to support Ken’s article.
    Great article/posts Ken!

  44. Very good article! We are linking to this great content on our website.

    Keep up the good writing.

  45. Pingback: The Importance and Impact of SEO | Digital Marketing Waffle

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