The term SEO has a perception problem. In this blog series, let’s chip away some of the things SEO isn’t and we may get a better view of what it is.
I love the recurring feature on Jimmy Kimmel Live where he asks people on the street their opinion of events that haven’t even happened yet . These are events like the presidential inaugurations or the Grammy awards. Instead of just saying, “I didn’t see it” or “I really don’t know anything about it,” they go out of their way to talk about details that they liked or things about it that the really hated. It is so funny and makes me wonder what I would do or say if the camera and lights were on me.
Bring up the term SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and you are likely to get a strong opinion either positive or negative. One of the great things about the web is the fact that you can easily find articles from 10 years ago. One of the bad things about the web is that you can easily find articles from 10 years ago. This leads to a lot of old articles with outdated SEO techniques floating around and being read. This sometimes gives SEO a black eye. As the search engines have grown and evolved, so has SEO. It is a very different discipline from 10 or 15 years ago.
SEO isn’t really the problem, it is the perception of SEO
SEO is very simple and complex at the same time. It is simple because Google’s webmaster guidelines give you a nice list of things they want you to do. If you do these things, you will rank better than a lot of web sites. This is not the end all definitive list, but it sure is a great start.
It is complex because there are more things involved than the Google Webmaster list to really get ahead. So much so that I think the term should really be changed from “Search Engine Optimization” to “Website Optimization”.
On top of the complexity, you are also building your sites for two audiences: people and bots
A lot of people are going to put the brakes on right now and start shouting mantras they have read like, “Stop building your website for bots” or “It is only about the audience.”
I have one word for that: “Bologna.”
Such statements sound great and noble and have some merit, but are not always the real world. We have built over 1000 web sites here at Infomedia. While great content combined with well structured, semantically coded websites can achieve outstanding results, there is still opportunity missed if a comprehensive SEO and content strategy isn’t followed. And not every one of our clients is prepared to write great content frequently. So, in these cases, creative SEO strategies designed to supplement existing content becomes really important.
The last thing we want is to build a great website for our clients that is really well suited for people, but miss traffic expectations because we didn’t invest in opportunities to implement thorough marketing and SEO strategies geared to cater to search engine bots.
I am not advocating building your site only for the bots. That would be silly, because driving traffic to a website only to have extremely high bounce rates (people leaving because the site isn’t designed for people) is just as bad or worse than having only a little traffic. This begs the question, “Then what am I supposed to do?”
SEO is one part science, one part art
SEO is a combination of several disciplines and techniques to create traffic that converts. Thousands of articles have been written about what SEO is and how to do it. For my next post, instead of concentrating on what these disciplines are and what SEO is, I will talk about what it isn’t.
I once heard a story of a stone sculpture artist that gave away his secret. He said, “Creating a bust of a person is easy, I just chip away everything that doesn’t look like the person. The more I take away the more it looks like the person.” So let’s chip away some of the things SEO isn’t and we may get a better view of what it is.
I am confident that you will be able to add to this list and I encourage your comments in the section below. Stay tuned for the rest of this blog series.