5 Overused SEO Phrases to Nix & 5 Hot Phrases That Are In

Did you know the concept of search engine optimization is more than 20 years old?

Twenty. Years. Old.

It’s as old as late ‘90s relics like the Spice Girls, Tamagotchi, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, the final season of “Seinfeld”, and “Titanic”.

Most of that stuff seems pretty dated now.

So why does SEO live on?

It’s not just SEO, either.

There are countless overused SEO phrases out there that just seem to keep on living, even though the search landscape has never remained static.

Today, we’re going to go into the top five overused SEO phrases to consider using a little less, and five hot phrases that are critical to online marketing success in 2018, 2019 and beyond.


5 Overused SEO Phrases to Nix

These are the top overused phrases that we should consider using a little less, or at least understanding more before we toss them into too many conversations, articles, etc.

  • SEO
  • Link building
  • White hat SEO
  • Black hat SEO
  • SEO hacks

1. SEO

According to Loren Baker for SEJ, the SEO process was originally referred to with terms like “search engine placement,” “search engine positioning,” and “search engine registration.”

None of those phrases have stuck, but SEO certainly did.

The thing is SEO doesn’t really describe what search engine marketers and content marketers do.

Are we optimizing search engines? No.

Are we even optimizing for search engines? No.

We’re optimizing content and webpages for the user experience (or we should be).

So why are we still so dependent on the term “SEO”? Because it’s well-worn and familiar?

I don’t know if we’ll ever get a replacement that’s as ubiquitous, but it needed to happen yesterday.

2. Link Building

The term “link building” is used everywhere in the SEO world.

In general, it seems pretty harmless.

That’s all swell and dandy, but there’s a dark side to link building.

As Brittany Muller of Moz said on an episode of Whiteboard Friday:

“It’s no secret that links are one of the top three ranking factors in Google and can greatly benefit your website. But there is a little confusion around what’s OK to do as far as links and what’s not.”

whiteboard friday link building

As you can see from the resulting whiteboard, there are way more “don’ts” than “dos” for link building.

In fact, link building as a practice can get very sneaky and slimy. (Link schemes? Hidden links? Abusing links?)

It’s time this term is retired in favor of one that connotes only positive linking practices.

3. Black Hat SEO

The term “black hat SEO” should be obsolete because it doesn’t work!

In the end, people trying to game Google and search engines will lose because:

  • An algorithm update inevitably will weed out bad tactics, making sites that use them plummet in the rankings.
  • Or the user experience will degrade so much that the temporary high rankings won’t matter.

4. White Hat SEO

There’s only one “good” SEO anymore, and that’s user-friendly, human-focused SEO.

It’s the only technique that leads to consistent, steady gains for everyone involved – your audience, your website, your brand, and your business.

Bottom line: There is no “white hat” or “black hat” – there’s only what works.

5. SEO Hacks

“Hacking” is a negative term.

“Hackers” are people who see it as their calling to violate boundaries and infiltrate personal data, not to mention cheat and exploit others.


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