MBAs vs. SEOs

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I was surprised by how much I enjoyed WebmasterWorld’s PubCon in Las Vegas last week. It was very informative, and frankly even entertaining at times. To start it became very apparent, and seemed to be a consensus among the SEO elite including, Guy Kawasaki, Danny Sullivan, Andy Beal, Rand Fiskin, Aaron Wall, among others, that writing a blog is quite important in this industry, so I too throw my hat into the ring…

To start I must admit I was one of the few MBAs in the crowd during Guy Kawasaki’s keynote, and probably the remainder of the conference. I was not used to being the target of so much ire, but I enjoyed the banter. It was similar to how MBA’s make fun of attorneys and accountants.

I found Mr. Kawasaki’s comments appropriate, and entertaining, but his comments on MBAs brought to mind an important aspect to SEO I think we all need to remember. Although most MBAs probably don’t quite grasp in technical terms what needs to be done to optimize their corporate websites, they still need to understand the process, and feel comfortable in the probable results of the SEO process, because they usually sign the checks. It’s just that simple. If SEO pros can’t explain, demonstrate, and predict the probable outcomes of the SEO process, they are not going to get the opportunity to perform in the first place.

On the other side of this debate is what MBAs and non-technical business owners think of SEO and these “services.” Unfortunately many MBAs have seen the process of SEO as just a bunch of technological smoke and mirrors, with questionable results, resulting from even more questionable practices. Paid link exchange being a good example. The idea that you could pay an entity to throw a link to your website up on zillions of other sites with little or no relevance to your own, and this would help you achieve a better position on a search page based on relevance is counter-intuitive, if not just plain idiotic. This notion goes against everything MBAs are taught in the various marketing/advertising classes.

Now, I will admit much of the blame has to be pointed at the engines and their inability to efficiently thwart the activities of those who participated in these back alley SEO schemes. And by all accounts the industry is going to be further standardized, and more reputable going forward, but the damage to the integrity the SEO process is somewhat damaged, and will take some time, and sound practice to repair.

Based on what was presented at Pubcon, I am very encouraged as both an MBA and a SEO business owner at the direction of the SEO industry. Improving technologies, and standardized practices by the engines will make participating in the SEO market a more predictable and fair endeavor, where hard work, unique content, and solid links will be the pillars of highly regarded sites, and relevance will truly be king.

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