Dear SEOs: Quit Complaining, Start Marketing

Dear SEO Community,

It’s time to “man (and woman) up”. It’s time to pull up our boot straps and get to working hard like they did in the old days. The days of griping about every single time Google makes a change and “ruins the lives of small business owners everywhere” need to end. It’s time to quit complaining and start marketing.


RapGenius Gets Canned on Christmas Day


I think we’ve all heard the RapGenius story by now. The site with a spunky attitude about song lyrics and connecting people through music was the latest “big brand” to be featured in the news as a violator of Google’s terms of service.

If you haven’t heard the whole story, RapGenius put together a blog post that both defended themselves as innocent and naive link builders but also honestly called themselves out for participating in manipulative link building schemes.

Toward the end of the post, RapGenius highlights their link removal process – similar to the hundreds of other Penguin-proofing posts out there – and shows they did their due-diligence and worked hard to have their manual action lifted. Great job, guys. Your work is done. Good luck moving forward in your quest to create real, genuine SEO strategies.

But please don’t get any closer to looking like the guys in the video below.

[Thanks for the find, SEOBook. :-)]

Now, as far as the SEO community is concerned, the story should end there. Sadly, it doesn’t.

And Here… We… Go!

Unfortunately this subtitle isn’t a reference to one of the best climaxes of a movie I’ve ever seen in my life.

Instead, it’s an annoyed, eye-rolling reference to the amount of SEOs – or people who work close with the community – whining, complaining, (expletive)ing, and any other word you can use to describe needless banter about how things aren’t fair. Well, guess what? LIFE ISN’T FAIR.

Last week, my wife’s car’s battery died, my heat went out in single digit (Fahrenheit) temperatures for 24 hours, a water pipe froze, my car needed an alignment tune-up, and my iPhone started acting screwy all in about a 40 hours span.

But why am I wasting my time telling you about this? You already know that. We all could share a story like the one above where bills, emergencies, and other significantly annoying events hit us head-on all at once. For whatever reason, when a company trying to deliver better results to its users slightly changes the landscape of a list of links, people who work in our industry tend to flip. A lot.

Google (this)!” “Google (that).” “(Small business in small town, USA) will never recover!” “Poor (webmaster who had no clue how search worked)“.

We still see these complaints about how quickly RapGenius’ manual penalty was removed, even on the Christmas holiday! Complaints that Google worked hand-in-hand with the song lyric website in comparison to how they don’t give any other businesses the time of day. Complaints about how despite the penalty, RapGenius’ traffic and link profiles are looking better than ever.

So let me get this straight: you’re telling me that because RapGenius had their team work tirelessly over the Christmas holiday to have the penalty to remove is… Google’s fault? And you’re saying that RapGenius being one of the most popular song lyrics websites means Google should pay… less attention to them? And I know you’re not suggesting that a bunch of people – in the SEO community! – blogging about and linking to the RapGenius website is Google’s fault.


As an aside, I dounderstand where some complaints are coming from. I’ve seen firsthand small businesses in a variety of industries get hammered from algorithm updates like Panda and Penguin, most happening with the people in-charge totally oblivious to it. It is a legitimate issue, but far and away not the most common occurrence. Preventing these problems moving forward is better addressed through educating people about the industry, less complaining, and more marketing.

Responsibilities of an SEO Professional


I remember having a conversation with Duane Forrester at last year’s SMX East in New York. I was asking him how to best learn some of the more technical aspects of SEO, and he stopped me mid-sentence to emphasize the importance of understanding marketing and advertising first, and that personally I was in good shape because the technical stuff is easy to learn.

As search engines evolve to understand concepts and ideas and not just a quantity of words (aka Google Hummingbird) we’d be wasting our time scheming and measuring only thinking about keywords and the number of links pointing to the site. Instead, we have to market the business more effectively and measure through terms that the business owners care about, not just SEO-related metrics.

The best two examples I’ve seen of this recently is Wil Reynolds and his belief in RCS and Cyrus Shephard‘s recent blog post about turning keywords into concepts. Let’s use our marketing, advertising, and communication skills to help the business increase revenue instead of worrying about how much “link juice” we can send their way.

Sure, we’ll do this with a focus on organic search performance, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take their current off-line campaigns, past work, and messages they currently have in the market and help turn it into something that benefit their website’s performance in organic search as well. This is called marketing and should be the first response to Google making our lives more difficult. Not complain.

Wait A Minute, Who the H@%% are You!?

I’m sure there are people (if they’ve read this far) asking themselves this question right now. As far as the SEO industry is concerned, I’m a nobody. My professional background is in communications, public relations, and general advertising and marketing, but in the last few years I’ve really taken to the SEO industry. I’ve devoted countless hours to reading, researching, and testing just about every book, publication, and blog post from trusted authorities within the industry.

This is also how I got to hearing all the complaining, and quite frankly, I’m sick of it. This blog post isn’t meant to call out one singular person or organization, but to address the community as a whole. Please, let’s help shape a better image of our industry by being willing to adapt, thinking more creatively, and getting the job done for our clients despite the challenges Google – and other search engines – throw in our lap.

Guys and gals: it’s time. Quit complaining. Start marketing!

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

Author: Brady Callahan

Brady Callahan is the Lead SEO Strategist at UpTik Media, a content marketing and SEO agency. Within the industry, Brady was a co-author of SEO Like I'm 5, the ultimate beginner's guide to SEO, and enjoys search strategy, link building and creating linkable assets, technical SEO, and campaigns that help clients build brands and while increasing their exposure in SERPs.

4 thoughts on “Dear SEOs: Quit Complaining, Start Marketing”

  1. I share your ‘get on with it’ stance Brady.

    Like you, I have a modicum of sympathy for businesses that were naive about their SEO’s dodgy tactics and have been slapped by Google.

    But if you’re generating significant business through organic search and don’t take the time to get a basic understanding of how your site is being marketed, that’s not Google’s fault.

    Ignorance isn’t an excuse.

    I welcome stricter guidelines because it makes the industry tougher and therefore more respectable. It should also mean that charlatans and part-timers will find it harder to make a living, whereas those who approach SEO in the right way, i.e. the professionals, are rewarded.

    The challenge for the good guys is to make clients understand that proper SEO takes time and commitment. The days of ‘buy 1000 links for $5’ are gone. Only those that are prepared to graft will succeed.

  2. I have to agree with you Brady. The only reason why a business slapped by Google is going out of business, is because they didn’t diversify their marketing efforts. It’s never bin good to put all your eggs in one basket! To comment on Thomas; it’s not because you have an SEO business in your spare time, that you can’t deliver a proper quality service. It depends on how your business is organized. As long as you get the results, customers are happy, and respect you, regardless of the fact that you do this on the side or as a fulltime profession.

  3. I totally agree with you Brady. Most of the business got fail is that they don’t exert efforts manually to some of their campaigns. They ar very dependent to softwares who will work for them but they don’t actually know wha is the risk of using softwares for their marketing campaign.

  4. Haha Brady, the Hardly Working: Start-up guys got me laughing! But yeah, nice article, it really gets onto a lot of the issues there are happening with peeps who just don’t want to put in the work.
    So the big this about SEO is the execution. IMHO

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *