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Open Letter to the SEO Industry

An Open Letter to the SEO Industry

Dear SEO Industry,

How are you all doing? I’ve now been a member of the industry for, well, most of my professional life, and I feel it’s time I share some things with you.

You see, I’ve been thinking a lot about our industry in the past few years, and I’ve come to an important realisation: I love being an SEO.

And the reason I love being an SEO is because of you, the industry. And I feel I need to explain why. Because this industry of ours, it’s not like any other industry. It’s something special. And it’s important for me to try and describe why it’s special.

Maybe I’m trying to describe the smell of clouds, or how the colour purple makes me feel, but I’ll do my best nonetheless. SEO is an amazing industry filled with amazing people, and I want to pay tribute to that somehow.

So consider this my love letter to the SEO industry.

I love the SEO industry because…

It’s never boring. This is such a fast-moving discipline that there is no such thing as routine. The way we do things now will be different in six months, and considered obsolete in a year or two at most.

What we do is make things easily findable. Our primary purpose is to ensure that search mechanisms such as web search engines show our clients’ content first. And because search mechanisms change so rapidly, we have to change too.

But we’re not a reactive industry. Yes, most of what we do is done in response to what search engines want, but often we can outsmart search engines and come up with novel and interesting ways to make content rank.

Search engines don’t always like it when we do this. But I love it.

We’re valuable. It always baffles me that there are so many people in other industries, from developers to classic marketers, that proclaim SEO to be useless. Yet these same people will use Google several times a day to find what they are looking for, and never realise the irony of their proclamations.

SEO is important because, regardless of what some say, content doesn’t rank on its own merits. Content needs our help. Without SEO, search engines would struggle to find and index most of the web. Without SEO, most websites would struggle to find an audience. Without SEO, the web would be a smaller place, with fewer websites that would dominate it all.

Every time I see a business grow and prosper because they improved how people found them and interacted with their content, I feel a sense of pride. We matter because what other people do matters, and we help them do it better and on a larger scale.

In the grand scheme of things, what we do amounts to a very modest contribution to the world, but it’s a positive one nonetheless. Be proud of it.

We’re a family. This, probably more than anything else, is what I love about being an SEO. We care about one another, like one huge, world-wide, slightly dysfunctional but ultimately very supportive family.

It’s that sense of shared values and community that makes the SEO industry such a special family. We want other SEOs to succeed, even when we compete with them. We care about what happens to members of our SEO family, and will come together to support them when needed.

Not everyone who says they’re an SEO are actually part of this family. We all recognise these wannabe-SEOs when we see them – in fact, we can smell them a mile away.

The slick salesman who tries to steal your clients. The fly-by-night outfit that was a social media marketing firm only a week ago but gets a whiff of SEO and suddenly ‘pivots’. The self-proclaimed ‘leading SEO agency’ that no one has ever heard of. The ‘experts’ that never attend a conference, never contribute any insights, never say who they work for.

Yes, we have plenty of people who say they are SEOs – but we know they’re not. They are not a part of this family. They’re not a part of it because they haven’t earned it.

We have to earn it. Being an SEO is not something you just do on a whim. Yes, there are plenty of folks out there who take on the title and think they’re one of us. But we know better.

Becoming an SEO is not something you do overnight. It’s something that has to be earned. And the way you have to earn it is another reason I love this industry.

You earn your stripes as an SEO by being very good at it, by sharing your knowledge and expertise generously, and by supporting and mentoring other SEOs.

It’s that generosity of time and knowledge that makes SEO so special. Most other professions are intensely competitive, where people jealously guard their secrets and see every other practitioner as an enemy.

Yet in the SEO industry, we share our expertise, often without asking for anything in return. We help other practitioners solve problems, we share our experiences in blogs and at conferences, and we provide guidance and assistance as a matter of course.

And often we do this for other SEOs that compete with us for the same client contracts or work in the same niche. Because they’re part of our family. And we support our family, no matter what.

I didn’t choose SEO, it chose me. I never planned to become an SEO, it just sort of happened. But now that I’m a part of it, I can’t imagine working in any other industry.

I’m proud to be an SEO, proud to be part of this family. And, from the bottom of my heart, thank you all for being so awesome. I love you, SEO industry.

All the best, Barry

Barry loves SEO
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