I am an SEO.
However, what I do mean to say, with great emphasis, is that SEO as a specialty has, does, will and should continue to exist.
I felt like I should chime in regarding Rand’s excellent Whiteboard Friday today.
1. SEO is Bigger than SEO:
SEO or “Search Engine Optimization” is is a statement of purpose, not a statement of methods. Carl Sagan once said, “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” I suppose we could call bakers Gods if this were the case, but I believe most of us would agree that to be generally false. Except for the creators of the bourbon pecan cupcake‘. If your goal is to bake foods, you are a baker, regardless of the tactics necessary to bake those foods. Listing off CRO and UX and Branding as necessary components of a successful SEO campaign does not change the intent or purpose of that campaign – to increase qualified organic traffic from search engines. While the responsibilities have grown, the goal has not. If the goal has shifted, then yes, you should change your title. If tomorrow, Google changes all the necessary tactics to rank, I will still be an SEO. But would I still be an Inbound Marketer?
2. Perception is Bad:
I agree that the perception is generally bad, but this obstacle does not change what we do nor should we surrender our true identities to a new facade because we can’t shake the vestiges of our past. Using terms like “Inbound Marketing” and “Online Marketer” merely obfuscate the reality of our primary goals in the hopes that we aren’t lumped together with people’s misguided perceptions.
3. We are Selling Ourselves Short:
I believe that Rand’s arguments here are what I find most disconcerting. SEO is getting harder and Google intends to make it harder and harder. When we begin to call ourselves inbound marketers and begin devote more and more of our time to ancillary marketing tactics that have tangential impacts on organic search, we have moved our eyes off the ball. We have lost focus. Now, I will admit, that focus is a luxury that only some businesses can afford – those that can afford a team of individuals who can have multiple marketers working on a cohesive strategy but with individuals focusing on different aspects.
I do not mean to say that people who are inbound marketers out there should not call themselves inbound marketers. They absolutely should. I also do not mean to say that a group of SEOs are shifting away from SEO to inbound marketing. They absolutely are. However, what I do mean to say, with great emphasis, is that SEO as a specialty has, does, will and should continue to exist. That specialty will likely become more difficult to master, more costly to perform, and will require more skills than before – but I will gladly be a part of it.
I have a purpose. It is to increase qualified organic traffic from search engines. I embody that purpose. I am an SEO.