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 loves SEO



  1. Personally, I have enjoyed leaving the SEO industry.

    I didn’t feel I was giving value for money and I felt like there is too much fluff marketing talk and not enough results in the industry as a whole.

    I’ve moved onto content creation which is, I guess, the new SEO.

    Also, there are a lot fo nice people in SEO, but a LOT of egos.

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  2. It’s a lovely letter, thank you for sharing.

    Agreed with all the things said.

    SEO is definitely here to stay and is not limited to Google and Amazon for example.

    With Machine Learning and analytical data, we’re now able to measure the true value of content marketing, social and the many other factors that drive the SERPs. It will also help humble the many egos alluded to earlier present in our industry.

    SEO is the new SEO and always will be. With ML it’s an exciting time to be in SEO.

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  3. Love this Barry :)

    As a not-really-SEO person who nonetheless tries to keep up with the industry (because it makes me a better developer) I particularly identified with the “family” thing. I’ve made some great friends through the SEO community at large, some of whom I’ve never met in person, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the shared knowledge, experience and general good spirit that they spread.

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  4. Nice one Barry : )

    I was just thinking about how the SEO industry is like the EU: Amazing in theory but very tricky in detail, ever-changing but still the same ..but I really don’t want to expand on that on Brexit Day 2.

    As always, there’s loads of clever and nice people doing great things and there are also feckless bottom-feeders and barrel-scrapers with no skills or ethics.

    Like most other industries there’s lots to love and hate. I’m now at an age were I rather play for an hour with my kids than read another blog post about “How I built 5 links in an extremely rare circumstance which won’t be transferable for 99.8% of my readers” ; )

    We gotta keep doing the right thing, eh? See you out there mate!

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  5. Nice post. It’s easy to forget the good bits about SEO when you’re deep in the weeds of a project.

    The family aspect is definitely one major benefit. Both in terms of having a sense of community when working in an industry dominated by less-than-opaque provides, and also helping with the isolation if you’re a freelancer or agency.

    I’ve definitely benefitted from both contributing when I can, and learning from most people I’ve encountered – including yourself…

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  6. You are just plotted what i have been thinking of days and seo is never boring i admit and i am so happy for you because you are loving your profession much more and i love it too.
    Do much more and i appreciate being part of our seo family.

    Smile on my face when typing this. Bye

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  7. This is never ending process fun things and we learn new thing everyday. I am enjoying this field and Like you said we are important everyone needs search engine but what is inside is what we have created :)

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  8. Now this is so good to read. I am an optimizer from India and I also train individuals and businesses. Same thing happened with me, I never thought of starting in SEO but it happened and I am really proud of that. We are highly valuable because we generate businesses. Developers, designers, classical marketers and even some digital marketers may hate us but a knowledgeable business person can’t ignore us. Because we get them businesses. Loved reading this post.

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  9. Such a wonderful and true article, but one statement truly stands out to me:
    It’s that generosity of time and knowledge that makes SEO so special.

    Generosity of time is at the core of SEO and of marketing as a whole. Give freely and you’ll never have to chase a link again.

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  10. Really great letter Barry. It’s like going back to our roots when we all helped each other on alt groups and other news groups subscriptions. I mean it’s about helping and getting out of it what you put into it.

    All the best Barry

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  11. Now you’ve gone all mushy on us, Barry – but beautifully spoken! It’s a great community we work in, full of more than enough good folks to outshine the occasional snake-oil salesman. I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be working (well, except for tending my own pub… )

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  12. Absolutely spot on Barry! Well said.

    I met you a while back at Think Visibility in Leeds – I’m sure it was that event (I’ve been to a few!) but I remember having a conversation with you about SEO when I was just getting started :) Always follow your insights and shares on Twitter!

    Keep up the good work.



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  13. Barry – top stuff and love this line: “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.” You’re bang-on – it’s never boring.

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  14. Amazing article. You summed everything up to when you said: I did not choose SEO, it chose me.

    It happen to me as well as. I had no idea what it was 10 years. Now I’m proud to say that I’m one of the most influential SEO here in Brazil. Because I’ve followed everything that you said above: help the industry, share your knowledge, assist fellow SEOs even if they are our competitors. This is what make this industry so amazing!

    Let’s launch the #proudtobeseo I bet we can get it on Twitter Trending Topics.

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  15. As an SEO from Brazil, I’d say when sometimes you think to give up maybe it’s because you love it so much, you’re in it so much time and your life is around it so much. That’s the life when you really feel as part of something. It’s like a marriage. It’s not always flowers, but you’re tested all the time, your passion, your dedication, your honesty.

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  16. Wonderful!

    Heard about this on SEO Rockstars podcast… So many great quotes.

    I too just kind of fell into it after working in Paid Search and recognizing the incredible need. I continue in it because the pride of watching the results and seeing my clients achieve success.


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  17. Am I the only one here, who was crying inside while reading the post? At the beginning of my career I hated being an seo because I wasn’t getting any results for my blogs even working for 13 hours a day, but I never gave up. Today I make enough from my blogs to lead a very decent life here in Madrid. Thank you SEO.

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  18. Wow! Amazing article!

    Especially ” I did not choose SEO, it chose me” this message has been make to think out of the box.
    Thanks again for your nice post.

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  19. Ok, this letter almost made me cry. I was really unhappy working as a journalist, when I had an invitation to work with SEO at – and I felt extremely challenged because I had no idea how to do it. Definitely the challenges make us stronger, and right now I feel capable and completely satisfied with my daily routine and my profession.

    Here, people help each other and this is beautiful.

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful words with us.

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  20. Really great letter Barry. It’s like going back to our roots when we all helped each other on alt groups and other news groups subscriptions. I mean it’s about helping and getting out of it what you put into it.

    Reply »

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