Making for a Better SEO Community with Cooperation
Jamar Ramos joins the SEO Rant Podcast to chat about the needs and hangups of the SEO community.
The negative outcomes that occur when SEOs jockey for position
Maintaining a sense of respect even when we disagree on SEO outlooks
Consciously trying to support people in the community
The SEO community is unique. It's unique in its knowledge sharing and the closeness of the community and heap of other good things. It's also unique in some of the mudslinging that goes on.
I remember a prominent non-SEO who carefully followed the community being astounded at how aggressive SEOs can be towards each other.
It's a real problem at times and it's a stain on the community overall (like it or not).
That's why having an open conversation about this topic is really important and it's why the idea of supporting each other and collaborating with each other is more important than ever.
This, of course, is exactly what Jamar and I talk about in this episode!
The SEO Community: Problems and Solutions
The SEO community is a great place. Personally speaking, I've met some of my favorite people by being involved in the SEO community and I owe a tremendous amount of my success to it (particularly to people like Barry Schwartz, Andrew Optimisey, Carolyn Lyden, Nati Elimelech... just to name a few).
There's a ton of knowledge sharing in the community. There are people who legitimately care about the community like Aleyda Solis, John Mueller, etc.
It's a good place.
However, that does not mean it isn't without its problems. Like any community there is. dysfunction. Also, like any family, there's hope for the problems that seemingly plague us.
Please SEOs, There's No Need to Jockey for Position
Creating strong "hierarchy" is a good SEO practice - it's a terrible community practice. There are a slew of reasons why trying to "outdo" each other is not healthy for the community. Way too many to get to here. One that stands out is the fact that it can hurt the effectiveness of good ideas.
To elaborate, each of us is standing on someone else's shoulders. I know what I know because the people before me were bold enough to explore, innovate, and share. No one owns an idea. Every idea was birthed in the idea that came before it.
When SEOs jockey for position or overemphasize the credit that's due to them it can at times take away from potential sharing of ideas. If everyone is in their own corner trying to position themselves that takes away from possible collaboration. It just does - there are no two ways to slice it.
I'm not saying that this is entirely prevalent and it's killing the community. It's not. But it can be a problem and it can limit the full potential of the community at times (at least in my opinion).
Instead of marking our terrority, we could focus on collaboration and cooperation. How can we make ideas better and how can we improve things by working together?
New SEO, Old SEO - We're All SEOs
There is a lot of new blood in the SEO community. I personally think it's great. There are new ideas from new people with new perspectives.
There's also, "Well, I've been doing SEO for 100 years - who the hell are you?". Which, of course, is likely to turn new SEOs off from the community.
At the same time, there's also, "I'm new and innovative, and you're a freaking dinosaur." Which, of course, is not respectful to the people who help build the industry and community.
This goes back to my earlier, point. The jockeying for position is just bad for everyone. If you're an SEO vet with a lot of well-constructed ideas on what SEO is and has been - could it hurt to be open to new ideas?
If you're a new SEO who has a lot of fresh ideas, would it hurt to keep an open mind to someone who's been around the block a few times?
There's something to both sides. Newer folk might have new ideas and be familiar with newer platforms (don't let me near Tik Tok - not that I want to be near Tik Tok). The vets have a ton of really good experience and there's a lot of wisdom to take from them.
Do you know what the result of the fighting is? It's folks finding Neil Patel and thinking he's a great source of SEO knowledge and not wanting to get better information from the community. The community has to feel like an open place for ideas - if the vets are fighting with the rookies - that's not going to work.
Not Every Idea You Disagree with Is Wrong: Have Some Respect
One of the biggest issues, at least in this author's opinion, is the lack of respect for positions in SEO we don't agree with. SEO is not a hard science and there are diverging points of view as things are often "murky."
Just because you don't agree with a certain SEO outlook doesn't mean the other side doesn't have validity. My litmus test is, "Is it reasonable?". Is the person making a reasonable argument? If so, while you may not agree there's no need to be overly combative about it all.
There is so much that has to be done for a site to succeed. And as we spoke about on this very podcast with Steven Van Vessum, it's often about doing the right SEO task at the right time. In other words, there's room for everyone. There's room in the SEO world for all sorts of conflicting views. We don't need to jockey for position. Technical SEOs don't need to show they're more important than "content SEOs" and vice versa.
Even When An SEO Idea Is Wrong: Have Some Respect
Needless to say, that even when the "idea" you hear is flat out wrong, we all need to have respect. No, LSI keywords are not a thing. No, meta-descriptions are not a ranking factor. No, DA and AS and whatever metrics are not part of the algorithm.
But you know what? Those ideas being wrong doesn't mean you get to act like a jerk towards people who evangelize them!
State your position, be a bit witty or pithy if you want, but be respectful. What's worse? Thinking LSI keywords exist in the algorithm or treating another human like dirt? That's a rhetorical question by the way and the fact that I need to mention that explicitly is kind of sad.
Build People Up and Support New People In SEO
More than anything, take the time to build someone up. Getting into SEO and learning the craft is not easy. Take the time to support people trying to learn more and build themselves up.
You never know what a kind word or even a like or a retweet means to someone. Don't underestimate the power you have. A simple word can make someone feel validated and supported.
Everyone at the top started off at the bottom. It's important not to lose perspective. We've all had help from others (hi, Barry!). Take the time to reach out and support others in the community.
Whether it's a listening ear, a cup of coffee with a local SEO, a quick DM - a conscious effort to support someone can have a lasting impact!
For more of the SEO Rant Podcast check out our previous episode on International SEO