Are SEOs Unwilling To Say “I Don’t Know”?

Martin Splitt, a lawyer for Google developers, believes that SEO professionals are unwilling to admit when they don’t know something, which causes friction with developers.

This topic was brought up in a discussion during the last episode of Google Search and development engine optimization video series.

Join Splitt with Jane Matthews, Director of SEO at Github, to discuss how SEO professionals and web developers can better understand and communicate with each other.

Split suggests that one way SEO and developers can improve their working relationships is if SEOs can more easily acknowledge when they don’t know something.

He says it’s common for developers to say “I don’t know” and be open to learning new things through testing.

However, it’s rare to hear those words from an SEO professional, says Split.

why is that?

Matthews shares her insights as an SEO Director and enlightens Split to the fact that SEO professionals should always be on the defensive.

SEO professionals should always defend their work

Matthews explains that the work of SEO professionals is constantly questioned.

This puts them on the defensive, and saying “I don’t know” will only lead to more scrutiny.

Matthews says:

“SEO is constantly being questioned, so we’ve come to a point where we’re kind of on the defensive. When we’re asked a question, how would this work, or if we did this thing, what would the outcome be, it’s hard for us to say ‘I don’t know’.” Just for this reason, because we are constantly under scrutiny or questioning.

What I usually say to other SEOs is that it’s OK to say “I don’t know” because [developers] They’ll say “I don’t know” sometimes.

Or, if you’re not comfortable saying “I don’t know,” you can suggest testing things out together to see what happens.

Not only will this approach reduce friction between SEO and developer, but it will also help cover both ends of the road if the launch doesn’t work out as expected.

Matthews continues:

“When we launch things, and they say ‘how does that happen,’ rather than looking up and trying to figure out what algorithm isn’t letting us rank, it’s okay to say ‘I don’t know’ and ‘let’s try something else and move on.'” But it’s very difficult for SEO because we’re constantly being scrutinized.”

Matthews adds that everyone within the organization scrutinizes the expertise of SEO professionals — from management to developers and content writers.

She talks about a time when she would advise a content writer to use a particular keyword so that the web page could rank for that keyword.

Rather than take her advice, the writer backed out because they preferred to use a different word. He doesn’t seem to understand the importance of using keywords in copy.

While saying “I don’t know” might lead to a smoother working relationship, it would also help if people within the organization were more confident in the SEO specialist’s expertise.

This is just one of the many points discussed in Google’s new video, which you can watch in full below:

Featured image Khosrow/Shutterstock

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