Latest Fallacy: Technical SEO is Dead

Update: Excuse the language that follows, but when alleged experts post dangerously inaccurate recommendations with consequences that can decimate a small business, it gets my hackles up.

Over the past week there have been two moronic posts circulated about the uselessness of technical SEO.  The first, by Clayburn Griffin, was surprisingly on Search Engine Land:  The role technical SEO should play: It’s makeup.  The article was dumb, misleading, misinformed and spectacularly sexist – essentially positing that the only reason agencies engage in technical best practices was to doll themselves up for a date with an apparently stupid prospective client, who will be easily wooed by complex technical jargon.

Being attractive is a nice advantage. People are more inclined to like you if you’re attractive. And makeup can make anyone look better. It can touch up blemishes and smooth out your skin. It can outline your eyes and make them stand out.

What’s an agency to do?  Most of the time, it seems like they turn to more and more technical SEO. Agencies are always on the lookout for great technical SEOs. More makeup to slather on their clients’ websites.

The article was widely pilloried across the nerd community – including a counterpost on SEL.

And yesterday, not to be outdone (and perhaps inexplicably desperate for the negative notoriety generated by Griffin), Jayson Demers posted this drivel at Entrepreneur: Why Modern SEO Requires Almost No Technical Expertise.  Included within this fetid pile of garbage:

Ignore all the technical terms, all the details of execution and all your preconceived notions for a moment and focus on this: the happier your users are when they visit your site, the higher you’re going to rank.

Modern SEO really is that simple.

So – a picture being worth a thousand words – let me demonstrate visually what happens when you totally fuck up the technology. Let’s see just how simple modern SEO is when you ignore the technology. =What follows are the results on two sites we have been called in to fix after they went through a website redesign that ignored technical fundamentals. We call this Janitorial SEO – the cleaning up of others’ messes.  And 90% of the time, those messes are created unintentionally by people who just don’t know better (sometimes called designers).  What’s more galling is idiots like Demers and Griffin (who should know better) espousing willfully and deliberately overlooking technical fundamentals.

But are they really wrong?  Do these two know something we don’t and is the future of SEO one devoid of technical hurdles? In both of the cases below, you are seeing the result of poorly implemented website redesigns that utterly scrambled the technical platform.  I haven’t seen anything more dramatic than the disaster that occurred when a law firm launched their “new and improved” website that ignored pretty basic SEO foundations. And lets not even consider the business ramifications of losing essentially 80% of their traffic overnight.


The second tanking (below) is less dramatic and frankly more typical – a roughly 30% loss in organic traffic after a website redesign onto a new platform with a completely blind eye towards basic SEO technology.  In both cases, the financial implications to the firm were severe.


Still think technical SEO doesn’t matter?  Fortunately there are plenty of SEO “consultants” out there, eager to take your money and make your SEO traffic slide into the abyss.

2 Responses to “Latest Fallacy: Technical SEO is Dead”

  1. If you read my article, you would see that I’m not advocating that we completely ignore technical SEO. I am saying let’s put it in perspective, though. I’m tired of people in this industry pretending it’s the magic bullet, and like you said yourself about it being “Janitorial SEO”….it’s reactive, not proactive. And that won’t differentiate an agency, which was my point. Every SEO does technical. You’re not going to outshine anyone there. So let’s stop obsessing over it and focus on the substantive parts of SEO.

    • Sadly – in the legal marketing industry, rudimentary technical SEO best practices are far from commonplace. It is sad that the fact that we are exceptional at the technology is a differentiator, but that is the reality of the state of legal marketing. Even your thought: “every SEO does technical” is sadly incorrect in legal.