Don’t Paint All SEOs With the Same Brush

SEO Paint Brush

By Ava Naves, Principal


A few weeks ago I came across an article on Search Engine Journal that irritated me.

While some of its content rang true, parts triggered one of my pet peeves: SEOs that author content with titles like “SEO is Dead”, “Why You Don’t Need SEO”, or in this case, “5 Things Your SEO Consultant Won’t Tell You” — that seem to be written  for no other purpose than to create controversy in our industry. Unless, of course, their ulterior motive is to attract links from other sites.

I wrote a lengthy comment presenting the cons and pros of that article, but I suspect that the number of words in it made it get caught in spam filters. So, instead, I’ll publish it here.

The article put forth five points about SEO and professionals in the field:

  1. SEO is not a dark art that only the technical mind can comprehend
  2. They’re probably violating Google’s guidelines
  3. They don’t really know how to go viral
  4. If they’re doing it without you, they’re setting you up for failure
  5. They haven’t tested the validity of anything they say

I agree with some points, but couldn’t disagree more with others. Let’s start with the positives:


“SEO is not a dark art that only the technical mind can comprehend”

My take: Absolutely. However, it is complex. You can say that drawing is not hard, either, but there’s a big difference between a Picasso line drawing and some piece of art that a child will bring home from kindergarten. Clients are best served when the agency or consultant helps them understand SEO best practices.


“If they’re doing it without you, they’re setting you up for failure”.

Correct. I can’t even fathom how an SEO consultant or agency can initiate work on a new account without getting the client really involved in the process. From a foundational step like keyword research, all the way to content strategy and SEO implementation, clients’ goals and processes have to be understood in order for SEO to be successful.


Now to the points that I respectfully and emphatically disagree with:

“They don’t really know how to go viral”

This may apply to “beginner SEO consultants”, but any good online marketing agency (like The Online Strategy House) or professional understands that search engine optimization doesn’t happen in a silo. Thus, they will have plenty of hands-on experience with online marketing and understand what makes content go viral.


“They’re probably violating Google’s guidelines”

Again, this applies to less-than-reputable SEO practitioners, especially those who have only been around for a short while. A pro won’t feel that it’s necessary to resort to black-hat or grey-hat methods to help a client. Better yet, a pro knows better than to even entertain that thought!


“They haven’t tested the validity of anything they say”

This may apply to someone who’s a novice or doesn’t take an interest in clients’ successes past the point where all deliverables are fulfilled and the final cheque is cashed in. From what I’ve witnessed in my 15 years of experience in this field, this is not how reputable agencies treat their clients. It’s certainly not how we treat ours.


Here’s the deal: competent, professional SEO agencies and consultants do exist. We’re one of them, and know of numerous others that are great examples of good ethics in our industry. They may be a small percentage of those who claim to be able to do the job, but they are out there. I’m glad that there are people who take the time to debunk some of the myths surrounding our field, just like the author did in that article. But these folks are doing themselves and others a disservice when they paint all SEOs with the same brush.

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