Are SEOs reluctant to say “I do not know”?

Martin Splitt, Google’s developer advocate, believes that SEO professionals are not willing to admit when they know nothing, causing friction with developers.

This topic came up in a discussion during the recent episode of Google SEOs and developers video series.

Splitt is joined by Jenn Mathews, SEO Manager at Github, to discuss how SEO professionals and web developers can better understand and communicate with each other.

One of the ways SEOs and developers can improve their working conditions, Splitt suggests, is if SEOs could more easily admit when they know nothing.

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

However, it is rare to hear these words from an SEO professional, Splitt says.


Mathews shares his insights as an SEO manager and informs Splitt that SEO professionals must constantly be on the defensive.

SEO professionals must always defend their work

The work of SEO professionals is constantly being questioned, Mathews explains.

This puts them on the defensive, and saying “I do not know” will only lead to greater control.

Mathews says:

“SEOs are constantly being questioned, so it’s getting to a point where we’re almost on the defensive. When we’re asked a question, or how is it going to work, or if we do this thing, what’s the result, it’s hard for us to say ‘I do not know’ just for that reason.Because we are constantly under scrutiny or constantly being questioned.

What I usually tell other SEOs is that it’s okay to say ‘I do not know’ because [developers] also going to say ‘I do not know’ sometimes. “

Or, if you are not comfortable with saying “I do not know”, you can suggest that you test things together to see what happens.

Not only will this approach reduce the friction between SEO and the developer, it will help cover both parties along the way if a launch does not work as expected.

Mathews continues:

“When we start things and they say ‘why does not work’, instead of digging in and trying to figure out which algorithm does not let us rank, it’s okay to say ‘I do not know’ and ‘let let’s try something else and move on. ” But it’s very difficult for SEOs because we’re constantly under scrutiny. ”

Mathews adds that everyone in an organization scrutinizes the expertise of SEO professionals – from management, to developers to content writers.

She is talking about a time when she advised a content writer to use a particular keyword so that a web page could rank for that keyword.

Instead of taking her advice, the author pushed back because they preferred to use another word. Apparently do not understand the importance of using keywords in copy.

While saying “I do not know” can lead to a smoother working relationship, it would also help if people in an organization relied more on an SEO professional’s expertise.

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

Featured image Khosro / Shutterstock

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