I’m not a Professional SEO. I am an SEO, and I do organic SEO. I realize today that what I consider to be Organic SEO is actually quite different from what today’s professional SEO practitioners consider to be “seo”.
Organic SEO is the practice of search engine optimization that pursues better performance, where performance is impacted by search engine positioning.
There are those who say silly things like “it’s not SEO because you’re not optimizing search engines”. I call that silly, because to call it stupid would be rude (and I am opting not to be rude here).
I optimize publishing so that it performs optimally in search marketing, which is commonly measured in traffic and quality of traffic, as well as ranking.
Traffic typically drives marketing success metrics. Traffic quality is actually defined by marketing objectives and outcome goals.
Ranking can influence much more than just traffic or quality of traffic. Whatever ranking does, matters. It might not be measured or measured properly, but if it matters, we can accept that as fact, and optimize (our publishing) for more optimum rankings.
Search engine optimization is optimization intended to target outcomes from search engines’ activities… hence the term SEO. Sorry if that’s not quite a simple and direct as YOU need it to be, but that failing (of yours) doesn’t redefine the activity.
Organic SEO is the practice of adjusting publishing for optimum marketing outcomes from search engine activities, using “natural” or “organic” methods, as opposed to “industry best practices”.
I will address this further down below, after establishing a basis for what is now apparently “Professional SEO”.
Professional SEO and Best Practices
The field of professional SEO is defined by those public SEOs who take the limelight and declare what-SEO-is to the world, via product and service offerings.
If someone offers “SEO Services” they define themselves as professional SEOs.
In a relatively free market, if those services are contrary to what other Professional SEOs offer, the confusion resolves itself over time. You cannot succeed long-term as a car salesman if your lot is full of refrigerators; you are actually a refrigerator salesman.
Eventually, the successful SEOs will be the ones that were selected by the market dynamics to survive The competition for attention. They can optimize for more traffic, better traffic, or better rankings and all the mysterious goodness that follows from optimal search engine positioning.
Price is of course a confounding factor that interferes with swift free market justice, lol, as has been noted in theories like Market for Lemons. But… even if delayed, the decay of an invalid “profession” will take place.
Professional SEO is the SEO that professionals in the SEO marketplace call SEO.
Corrupting Free Markets: Google
Hint: the SEO marketplace is not a free market. Google has been interfering with and co-opting/corrupting the SEO market for many years now.
Corruption of the SEO profession has been a primary activity of Googlers for many years, and has been aided heavily by the self-identified search marketing media players.
Google sought to skew and eventually own the SEO marketing space as a means of controlling and directing the competition. It has largely succeeded. There are now many allegedly best practices and “guidelines” for SEO that are not proven, not known to increase traffic or rankings or other SEO success metrics, other than helping to complete checklists of such best practices.
Are you a Professional SEO?
If you believe in the alleged “best practices” of the SEO industry today, and follow the “SEO methods” put forth and sometimes even ”verified” by Googlers, you are a Professional SEO.
I would be willing to bet that many of these SEO steps you follow (and often insist are right or proper) do not increase traffic, increase traffic quality, or otherwise improve the outcomes of search engine marketing.
I also would bet that many of them simply cannot be evaluated at all. In many of these cases, advocates cite as proof — you guessed it — the “verification” by Googlers that it is, indeed, true.
The very same Googlers whose job has been to manipulate and eventually dominate) the public SEO market and it’s messaging.
If, instead of following the recommended SEO guidelines and best practices, and granting Google-supported talking heads credibility, you ONLY engage in optimization practices that prove themselves able to
- Increase traffic from search engines
- Enhance the quality of traffic from search engines (however your project can responsibly define “quality” in this context)
- Improve search engine placement in line with a strategy you believe (right or not) is better for your marketing goals
- Prompt any other result or consequence that involves search engines doing something that helps you achieve your marketing goals
Then you are an Organic SEO.
Is there a Market for Professional SEO?
Of course there is. Many companies only want to hire professionals… individuals who follow predefined best-practices known to produce results.
Unfortunately, that won’t compete in today’s search engines, where the search engines themselves dedicate substantial resources towards preventing such awareness. As noted, they also work very hard to obfuscate what is known, and promote what they want the public to believe is correct.
Of course aggressors like Google would never simply leave an opportunity for people to not-listen. That’s why Google is so swift with penalties. For those who don’t play along, there is a very real risk of penalty for non-compliance.
Google thinks that should be enough to restrain the mavericks, at least where client money is funding “SEO” activities. And if not, well…. the domain can be killed with no-looking-back.
Are YOU a Professional SEO, or an Organic SEO?
This is a tough question. The waves of SEO effectiveness and awareness shift like the waves on the ocean… with search engine manipulations, competitor activities, market conditions, and public behavior.
But you do control your own behavior, which could be blindly following what others (including search engine Public Relations people) say, or could involve limiting your commitment to ONLY those things you have learned actually produce the results you need for your marketing objectives.
If your task list includes things because they are “known” to be required for SEO, but you either don’t know they produce meaningful outcomes, or you can’t measure same, or perhaps you know they DON’T appear to matter, then you are not an Organic SEO.
My proposition : if you want to feel good about yourself as a professional or a practitioner, chase results and ignore the unproven nonsense. Everything else is leads to eventual unhappiness, except for the chosen few graced by Googlers with public praise and promotion as celebrities (the same celebrity that is ONLY supported by YOUR public demonstration of support for them as that).