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Do you think that “Search Engine Optimization” should be renamed?

Do you think that “Search Engine Optimization” should be renamed? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

MATT CUTTS: Today’s question comes from Denmark. Mads asked, Hi, Matt, do you think that search engine optimization is descriptive in the way it is used today? Do you think we need to call it something else? Boy, I can’t resist the philosophy questions. This one’s really fun. A lot of the times when you hear SEO, a lot of people get this very narrow blinder on and they start thinking link building. And I think that limits the field and limits your imagination a little bit. It’s almost like anything you’re doing is making a great site and making sure that it is accessible and crawlable and then almost marketing it, let the world know about it. So it’s a shame that search engine marketing historically refers to paid things like AdWords, because otherwise I think that would be a great way to view it. You could also think about not search engine optimization, but search experience optimization. Would users like to see the snippet on the page? Once they land, do they convert well? Are they happy? Do they want to bookmark it, tell their friends about it, come back to it, all those kinds of questions. So I think there are different ways you could think about it. Unfortunately, SEO kind of has this connotation for a lot of people, and we’ve seen it in media, like CSI-type shows, where somebody says they’re in SEO, and people have this worthless, shady criminals kind of view. Somebody called SEOs that. And I don’t know how to escape that because there are a few people who are black hats, who hack sites and give the whole field a bad name. And there are a few people who sell snake oil, who give the field a bad name. And unless people drive those guys out of our midst, we’re going to have this somewhat bad, shaky reputation for SEO. At the same time if you change the name to something else, all the people will just come along, and a few of those will be bad actors as well. And if you have a few bad apples, then that will sort of change the reputation of whatever new name you pick. So in my personal opinion, the best way to tackle it would be think about it in broad terms or maybe think about how could we differentiate the great stuff that people do, making their site faster and more accessible, helping people with keyword research, all that sort of stuff, marketing in different ways, from the straight, out-of-the-blue cold call, email, link request kind of stuff. Because as long as there’s that side to the industry, that’s going to affect the perception of the industry and that’s a shame. There’s a lot of great people in the industry, a lot of people who work in-house, do a fantastic job trying to make their sites more accessible. And it’s a shame that they get painted with that brush.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


Original video: