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Warning: Listening to Marketing “Authorities” Can Ruin Your Business

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The more I listen to what Google has to say about SEO, the more I realize they are either clueless about how their own product works, or they are trying to pull a fast one on us.

Well, let’s begin with the fact that “Google” doesn’t actually say anything. Google the search engine is an algorithm. Google the company, however, has talking heads that communicate “best practices.”

The main one, of course, is Matt Cutts.

As head of Google’s web spam team, Matt happens to be in a position wielding a lot of influence. When he posts something to his blog, the whole internet reacts. It sets trends. And quite frankly, that’s dangerous.

Let me show you two examples (most recent one first).

Example 1: Matt Cutts says Guest Blogging is Dead

Just a few days ago Matt wrote about the death of guest blogging. To be fair, it was in the context of SEO. But whether it is in that context, or any other context, nothing could be further from the truth.

Yes, guest blogging has become insanely spammy. I constantly get emails that I can hardly understand promising me “quality” and “original” content.

But just because there are spammers out there, it doesn’t mean that the activity is “dead.” Far from it. In fact, there is still an insane amount of value in getting a guest post published on an authoritative blog. The key is figuring out which links are going to give you the most SEO benefit (and I’ll get into this discussion in a moment).

Using this logic, you could say that blog commenting is dead. There’s far more spam in blog comments than in guest posts. And yet people are still doing it.

And when claims like these add up, it leads to articles like this:

(In case you were wondering….no…no it’s not)

Even assuming that guest blogging suddenly ceased to have any SEO benefit, there are huge benefits outside of SEO that you can still get from it. In fact, SEO can (and maybe should) be a secondary thought when it comes to guest blogging as a marketing strategy.

The real benefit is getting in front of an existing, targeted audience that is going to want to hear what you have to say. If you have a good marketing system in place, you can draw a lot of high-quality, targeted leads from that.

Hell, Danny Iny built a huge online brand on the back of guest blogging…and I don’t think he really took any serious look at the SEO benefits while doing so.

But that means you have to think beyond just SEO benefits.

And that’s the problem with many marketers that “niche” themselves in a single category. They don’t think beyond their specialization.

Which brings me to example 2…

Example 2: Matt Cutts Says Skip the Meta Description

In a recent video, Matt Cutts said it’s not necessary to have a meta description on every page….

"marketing authority"

Well…I suppose not. It’s not necessary to do anything, really.

His claim is that you should have them on high-traffic and important pages. But it’s not important to have them everywhere; especially because they bring little (if any) SEO value. And the important thing, really, is to avoid having duplicate meta descriptions…it’s better to have none.

I tend to agree with that last point. People really misunderstand the duplicate content penalty. Google doesn’t like duplicate content within your own site. Duplicate content across multiple sites? That’s fine…just look at some of the biggest sites online that do little more than syndicate what already exists.

Need further proof, check out this experiment.

But I digress…back to meta descriptions…

It’s hard to argue that meta descriptions don’t hold as much weight as they once did in Google’s early days. But that doesn’t mean they don’t hold any SEO value. And for something that can take less than a minute to write…why skip it (even if the benefit is marginal)?

But there’s more value in meta descriptions than just SEO. However, you have to think beyond SEO to realize that (something many SEOs might find challenging?).

A page that can rank highly but only get a few views can still be very important to a business if it is attracting highly targeted visitors. And a meta description serves a purpose in the actual search results beyond just ranking…a good description will attract clicks from prospects.

These descriptions give people a reason to click in the first place. That is the true value. And I would argue that no page is “unimportant” enough not take a minute to write a description. If it is that unimportant, why publish it in the first place?

As I’ve previously mentioned, a good SEO should have a well-rounded knowledge of all things marketing.

Ending the Debate: The Truth about SEO and Marketing

It’s funny to me when authorities pronounce things as “dead.” Guest blogging is apparently dead. Black hat SEO is apparently dead. And now apparently SEO in general is dead.

…The truth is, SEO is not dead, and will not be in the foreseeable future (that goes for both black and white hat SEO).

…The truth is, Google can potentially be the biggest source of new business out of any other option; but it’s not the only option.

…The truth is, SEO should be viewed in the broader context of marketing and how it fits into your overall strategy.

…The truth is, purely “white hat” SEO as Google would like you to see it is tantamount to PR.

…The truth is, “black hat” SEO is still insanely effective because it recognizes Google for what it is: an algorithm. And it takes advantage of the technical aspect of rankings.

…The truth is, that is why guest blogging is still alive and kicking…even when it comes to SEO benefits. Because when you recognize what Google values as a quality link, you’ll see clearly that guest blogging can actually be one of the most effective SEO tactics if done correctly.

…The truth is, anyone in the business of SEO should know the latest black hat techniques and why they work even if they never implement them because this gives you a technical knowledge of the inner-workings of search engines. Knowledge that you can implement in a completely white hat way.

The truth is, people like Matt Cutts have incentive to tell you these things because they want to influence you to use Google in a way they wished it worked, not necessarily how it actually works.

…The truth is, if you want someone that understands marketing in the broader context to help you take advantage of Google’s power to send you new business, you should contact me :).

…The truth is, you should take what “authorities” say with a grain of salt…at least until you see some proof.

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