When you hear certain SEO terms, do you get a cringe-worthy feeling?

Are we still talking about wearing black hats and white hats?

Some SEO words have just run their course, classifying as overused, overvalued, and in some cases just plain over.

When we asked leading SEO professionals words to eliminate, the most overused SEO word is, actually, SEO.

SEO: The Most Overused SEO Word Ever?

Here’s why you can’t be all things to all people.

SEO is not magic and it’s not a catchall.

“The word SEO on its own isn’t bad,” said digital marketing consultant and SEO expert Kelsey Jones. “People are starting to use it as a way to not explain to clients what they are doing. Shady agencies are using vague terms to not be transparent with clients.

“I have small business owners coming to me, asking for ‘SEO’ and assuming it will magically make them number one in search results simply because other SEO practitioners have said it’s possible within months. As professionals, it’s just not right to be taking advantage of people who have no idea what you’re talking about,” Jones added.

Considering SEO’s birth dates back to 1997 making it just over 20 years old, there’s still a ton of growing up to do.

We’ve gone from birth to infancy to middle school to teen years and graduated from college.

SEO was quite simple in the early years.

Gaming the system was easy.

Manipulating search results was the game.

Now that SEO is in its 20’s, things are starting to mature and get serious.

As SEO grows up, so does the vocabulary, terminology, and best practices.

In today’s complicated and fast-moving digital marketing world change is a way of life. It’s true, If search marketers had to pick a specialty it would be “expert in change.”

And so the SEO goes.

What worked last year is old news and what was amazing five years ago is ancient history in Google years.

Optimizing to win results on Google’s Page 1 search results needs an attitude of “adapt or die.”

To keep up with the changes, here are 20-something SEO words industry experts would like to delete, die, and say bye-bye.

SEO Words That Just Need to Go Bye Bye

Matt Cutts
SEO is Dead
Link Juice
Link building
Content is King
Content Marketing
Outbound Marketing
Integrated campaigns
Ranking Factor
Meta Description
The “Hats” Black Hat, White Hat
Do ‘this’ and you will succeed
Hacking anything

Words That Need to Be Added

Danny Sullivan
Featured Snippets
Artificial Intelligence
Customer anything
Holistic SEO
Facebook Organic Optimization
Chief Digital Officer
Driverless Vehicle Optimization Expert

Who Thinks What & Why

The SEO words you should deleteThe SEO words you should delete and the SEO words to add in 2018.

Jenny HalaszJenny Halasz, SEO/SEM Consultant

Most Overused SEO Words

Integrated Campaigns

Seriously, if your campaigns aren’t coordinating with each other, you are doing it wrong. This is not a selling point, it’s a requirement.

Hacking Anything

You’re not a hack. Why would you ever use a word that literally means to cobble together last minute to describe anything that you do?!

SEO Words Trending In


Be real, honest, cool. Be like Fonzie baby. Be cool.


This is who it’s all about. Each customer is unique and has different needs.

Personas and target markets are helpful to define, but your customer is not a persona. They’re a real person with real needs.


It shocks me to still get plans for pages that are designed for desktop. Designing for desktop now is like shoving an 8-track into your iPhone’s headphone jack (too soon?). Both are obsolete just like desktop.

Design for mobile, optimize for mobile. It’s not the future; it’s now.

Danny Goodwin, Executive Editor, Search Engine Journal

Most Overused SEO Word

Link Juice

I can’t believe people still use this word today. There is no such thing. People who use it sound amateurish and, frankly, dumb.

I always end up picturing some random dude drinking from a can of “Link Juice” in some cheesy commercial from the early ’90s. Very distracting. 😉

What they really mean is: authority, link value, or link equity.

I also wouldn’t be sad to see the “hats” get retired – white, gray, and black. This terminology makes the industry seem a bit too cartoonish.

SEO Words Trending In

Danny Sullivan

If, indeed, he becomes the “new” Matt Cutts – the public face of Google search – and sticks around for a good long while there, you can expect to see and hear Danny Sullivan’s name a lot over the coming years. Yes, even more than when he was running Search Engine Land.

Melissa FachSEO Consultant, Community Manager and Editor

Melissa Fach

Most Overused SEO Words

“Do ‘this’ and you will succeed”

Everyone writing and giving advice needs to stop saying anything like this. There are too many variables to consider when it comes to SEO to guarantee someone that if they copy your strategy they will be successful.

As an editor, I always remove these false promises from articles I publish.

Virginia NusseyOnline Content and Media Manager, Bruce Clay Inc.

Virginia Nussey

Most Overused SEO Words

Link Building

Can this concept please die? You’re either:

  • Making amazing content and promoting it with ads and PR.
  • You’re spamming.

SEO Words Trending In

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

I’ve been spending more time thinking about ways to adapt to artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. Google’s RankBrain has had a big impact on SEO.

For one thing, writers and SEOs need better tools for identifying long-tail and voice search queries. We can use Google suggestions and “People also ask” along with FAQs from Answer the Public – but what else are we to do in response to AI’s impact on search and searcher behavior? That’s been a big focus for me and will be in 2018.

Eric EngeSEO Expert, Author and Founder of Stone Temple

Eric Enge

Almost Overused SEO Word

Meta Description

With all the work that Google is putting into snippet generation, it looks like the utility of meta descriptions is going to be 100 percent gone soon, if it isn’t already.

For now, I would still optimize your meta description, but I suspect in a year or two, we’ll get confirmation that it doesn’t matter anymore.

I have no confirmation, but I am speculating given how much work Google is putting into snippet extraction, I believe the need for meta descriptions will disappear.

SEO Words Trending In

Featured Snippets

OK, I know people are talking about these a ton already, but I don’t think that everyone truly understand just how important this is.

The real featured snippets story will be told once more than half of all search queries are by voice, and most people take their one answer from a verbal SERP – a SERP that has only one answer, and that answer will be taken from what we call a featured snippet today.


Too many people continue to focus solely on old-fashioned ranking signals, like content and links. These do remain important, but it’s also important to take a broader view of how your brand is perceived online.

Google has told us over and over again that they try to view our sites the way users do. Well, what does that mean really?

If users want to see brand results for a given query, that’s what Google will return. If users want to see a marketplace, Google will return that in the SERPs. It users want to see review sites, Google will return that.

If you’re not a particularly good result for a given query, then they won’t return you.

How does Google figure that out? Not simply by analyzing your content, because you can have pages that speak to a given query, but still not be the company that users want to interact with related to that query.

You can go get links to your page that says you are authoritative for that query, but the presence of those links doesn’t actually mean that users want you either.

Try this: engage in branding and advertising campaigns, or actively engage in, or create, conversations across the web about your brand related to the query. That’s a clear sign that consumers consider you relevant to the query.

Kristine SchachingerSEO and Online Marketing Manager

Kristine Schachinger

Most Overused SEO Word

Ranking Factor

Often people are talking about items that go into factors of a site, but are not actually themselves a ranking factor.

Content Marketing

Nothing wrong with it, just used often to really simply mean, write good content and that is not the same.


Few people who write about RankBrain understand RankBrain.

Use Behavior Ranking Factors

By and large they do not exist. (There are a few – very few.)

People saying SEO is dead

RankBrain Optimization

While some people have a niche need for this, most people have none. The searches RankBrain sorts are unknown to Google, which means no one is looking for that. Spend time elsewhere.

SEO Words Trending In

Facebook Organic Optimization

Chief Digital Officer

A C-level position that incorporates SEO/M and social, which too often goes to IT and marketing and neither are suited for this.

Driverless Vehicle Optimization Expert

Expert in how to optimize interior surfaces for digital and ads.

Joe LaratroSEO/PPC Expert and President, Tandem Online Marketing Solutions

Joe Laratro

Most Overused SEO Word


Storytelling was one of the big buzz terms of 2017. I think it should stay in 2017.

While there is huge value in storytelling, it is just another form of generating high value engaging content.

SEO Words Trending In

Holistic SEO

This is an old concept but has a broader place in today’s optimization world than maybe ever before.

Advancements in the SERPs with incredibly relevant and customized results make specific keyword targeting very difficult.

Having a broad approach to SEO that takes into account all facets of current best practices and technology (amazing user experience, speed, mobile first) should be the ongoing commitment.

Victoria EdwardsOnline Marketing and Social Media Manager

Most Overused SEO Words

SEO is Dead

This really annoys me, since it clearly isn’t. Who only knows how our business will change with regards to this Net Neutrality situation, but I am sure we will just find another way to give our consumers the content they’re looking for.

Outbound Marketing

This one gets me and feels a bit overused. Maybe the phrase digital marketing should take it over.

Yes, outbound is different from inbound, but we need to get on with it and try something else.

Content is King

This is my absolute favorite overused phrase. I totally agree content can be king. You must factor in if your site isn’t optimized, the content isn’t strong, and you don’t have a decent budget to promote it…then it’s not king. People just won’t see the content.

Marty WeintraubInternet Marketing Expert and Founder of aimClear

Most Overused SEO Word

Linkbait, PageRank, Cloaking, Matt Cutts

These are just seriously overplayed.

Weintraub provided a Sysomos MAP word cloud for public Twitter organic tweets shows semantic usage stats. Weintraub noted this is what words ALSO appear in Tweets about SEO.

Rebecca MurtaghAuthor of Million Dollar Websites

Rebecca Murtagh

Most Overused SEO Words

“Best” and “Top”

I have probably even been guilty of using these words in the past. However, in the era of brand democratization where customers are part of the brand story, search results favor brands when customers are the ones saying they are the best, or top in what they offer.

So, let customers and audiences have their say!

SEO Words Trending In

It is time to embrace the softer side of SEO! Customers become emotionally attached, and fiercely loyal, to brands they love. So, words will vary by brand and marketplace.

To attract the most qualified visitors to a website from search engine results, brands can leverage two key elements in content and snippets in the hope they will appear in SERPs.

  • What connects them to their ideal customers
  • A call to action

For example, Apple’s snippet reads: Discover the innovative world of Apple and shop…

Customers are loyal to the Apple brand because they are connected and are in continual anticipation of the brand’s innovation. Use of brand differentiators Calls to Action (CTA) like “discover” and “shop” promote action (the click!).

When SEO becomes more human, everyone wins!


As SEO starts adulting into a mature marketing strategy in collaboration by the entire marketing department, SEO words will come and go. It’s up to all marketing professionals to understand the vocabulary in order to hire the best talent and stay up-to-date on best practices and Google updates.

Image Credits
In-Post Photo #1: Lisa Buyer
In-Post Photo #2: Marty Weintraub. Used with permission.