The media plays an important role in society in that it helps to shape mainstream opinion and idealogy. This responsibility extends into less critical portions of society such as interactive marketing.
Unfortunately, it’s clear to me that many mainstream media outlets don’t take this responsibility too seriously, particularly when addressing the topic of SEO.
I’ve pointed out glaring examples of this misappropriation of media authority in the past as have many others in our industry. However, that hasn’t seemed to slow down the steady stream of flat out ignorant articles published by supposedly top line journalistic outlets.
The latest example is this doozy that was published by a guest poster on FastCompany.com:
This example is particularly egregious in that its main premise is based on the idea that the title of an article or blog post is a key SEO factor (apparently, like Gene Weingarten, this author is not familiar with the difference between a title and a title tag) and moreover, the example it cites as “proof” of this phenomenon is an equally misinformed piece that was posted on the Wall Street Journal (and then reposted on CNET) which completely fails to grasp the impact of title tags as well as other key ranking factors like inbound links and anchor text.
This is extremely bothersome on at least two levels:
- Firstly, I’m a fan of Fast Company, so it kills me that they allowed a guest poster (from a Venture Capital firm) to post such a misinformed article. I’ll probably keep the site on my RSS reader feed for now, but I’ll definitely take in their content (particularly from guest posters) with a large grain of salt.
- Secondly, but perhaps most importantly, it’s these types of articles from mainstream and authoritative publications that misinform the very executives and decision makers that marketers like me end up dealing with on a day-to-day basis. No wonder me and my colleagues end up spending such a disproportionate amount of time “educating” clients on how SEO really works (e.g. helping them unlearn horrific advice like aforementioned example).
Sadly, some executives and decision makers never truly unlearn the bad lessons they digest via mainstream publications, leading to unrealistic expectations, failed marketing programs, and an SEO industry that is heading into its third decade of existence and yet seems to be perpetually stuck in infancy mode with its main label being something along the lines of “snakeoil” or “spam.”
I, for one, refuse to let this get me down. Instead, I’ll continue to try and educate the industry one reader (and big brand decision maker) at a time. Which means that if you’re a mainstream publication that doesn’t spend a lot of time checking facts when it comes to SEO, be prepared to be the accidental star of my next blog post.
P.S. I didn’t optimize the title of this article because there’s absolutely no need to do so (that’s what title tags are for).