commit: fb200d8 - #595 (2014-04-14 00:44:57 -0400)
Well done response. However, stuff like this:
"A person who uses things like “keyword density” and “gateway pages” is not an SEO, and never has been."
Feels pretty pretentious.
If, at any point, keyword density (or anything else people tend to frown upon) helped you rank higher, doing it was *exactly* optimizing for search engines... which would make you an SEO.
We can debate if that was, overall, 'helpful' SEO or whatever other layers you want to add to it, but let's try not to No True Scotsman all over the place and also not act like we can all just slap our own meaning onto a phrase that has a pretty simple definition.
That's Bill's turn of phrase, so I don't want to put words in his mouth. I'll just give you my view.
The two things highlighted are qualitatively different:
"Keyword density" has never(*) been a ranking factor. It is very similar to some other ranking factors (like tf*idf) and it's certainly true that adding keywords to the page (if you didn't have them / you had very few) could help you rank better (still does!). I would stand by Bill's suggestion though that "keyword density" is not something an SEO should talk about.
(*) it probably does / has in some small search engines - I seem to recall it possibly being a direct factor in Northern Light? But never in G, Y, B and predecessors as far as I know.
Gateway pages are probably more arguable - and it becomes more about your feelings about guidelines (and users!) rather than an argument about effectiveness. I think perhaps I would have phrased it more like "someone who calls themselves an SEO but who talks about keyword density or gateway pages is not the kind of person you (the SM readership) should be paying attention to". In the case of kw density, this is a knowledge thing and in the case of gateway pages, it's because you shouldn't attempt anything outside the guidelines unless you really know what you're doing.
Oh, overall it was a very good response. It's definitely a tough grey area but I think we just need to collectively own the fact that shitty practices are, at their core, still SEO (as long as they work), just like a bad mechanic is still a mechanic.
Being an unethical mechanic or even a crappy mechanic doesn't make you "not a mechanic" - same goes for an SEO.
Taking the "that's not SEO" response tends to look like an excuse, and just cause more confusion.
We're disagreeing but not, here. I'm not saying you should be looking at keyword density or whatever. All we're really talking about is semantics, but semantics are important because every time we try to change the meaning of a phrase, we confuse more people.
I'm simply saying that if gateway pages (or *any* other tactic) work (or worked) then they do (or did) fall under the definition of SEO. Assuming, of course, that we're taking the name at its base, face value, and saying Search Engine Optimization is.... optimizing for search engine placement.
"Good" SEO and "bad" SEO is totally separate from whether or not something is or isn't SEO.
As far as I'm concerned, the only qualifier that exists is present in the name - optimization. Does it get you better placement? If the answer is yes, it's optimization. Now, under that, there's going to be short term, long term, ethical, unethical, etc etc. And they are all valid qualifiers. But - that's still the only hurdle to actually fit the meaning of the phrase. It's not GSEO (good search engine optimization) or PSEO (permanent search engine optimization) - it's simply 'SEO' optimization for search engines.
To continue the auto analogy, a car that breaks down after 500 miles is still a car. It's not one you should buy - but that doesn't make it stop being a car.
Well, like I said we're at a bit of a semantic impasse, here. Definitely give you credit for being consistent, we do need more of that.
But, without applying everyone's personal definition of what SEO is or isn't, I don't see how tactics that optimize your placement within search engines would not be considered search engine optimization.
Spammy SEO is still SEO. Trying to disavow any practice you happen to disagree with and claim that it's not even in the industry you're in seems silly. Again, apply this idea to any other profession - bad mechanics are still mechanics. An accident-prone bus driver is still a bus driver (until he gets fired).
I realize I'm not going to change your mind, here - I just want to make sure I'm being clear.
Brilliant work, guys. Me personally, I'd pay to see more regular Will 'n' Bill features.
+1 on paying for will + bill features :)
DistilledU anyone...? ;)
Personally I'm really glad that SEO doesn't cause global warming.