What SEO Is NOT, Clarifying Search Marketing

seo-is-not-deadThere is so much mis-guided information on the internet about what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is and how your business should use it. In all actuality the term SEO itself is a bit misleading. The days are long gone when you can make a few edits to your website’s code and miraculously rank number one on a highly competitive search term. The term SEO was born in a time when search engines looked very different than the way they do today. The internet as a whole was still being defined and “I’ll Google It” was not yet the phrase people used. Initially the technology that search engines like Google and Yahoo used to rank websites was much less advanced. They primarily relied on the words that were typed out on a webpage to tell them how relevant it was to a particular search term. However this method of sorting through websites led to a great deal of webpages being deceptive of what they were actually about. Clever tricks were invented to game the search engines. Some of these tricks worked and some would cause a website more harm than good. Understanding the ins and outs of what worked and didn’t work became complex enough that the industry of Search Engine Optimization was born.

Fast forward a couple decades and search engines have come a long way. In fact, optimizing the code on your website is now only a small part of what it takes to perform well on search engines. It is much more about actually marketing your website in the right way and making sure you create useful and engaging content for your website’s visitors. The ultimate goal of a search engine would be for their algorithm to perfectly replicate the decision making power of actual people sorting through millions of webpages. So a good rule of thumb is to create web content that actual people will enjoy reading. Nevertheless knowing as much as you can about how search engines interpret your website and your content will certainly give you a leg up.

Today SEO should really be re-termed as Search Marketing, as doing well in search results is now much more about marketing great content than it is about optimizing code. Your content should be designed for the reader foremost. Don’t get me wrong optimizing code is still great and it is needed, but it will no longer win any races. Rather, it is simply one lap around the race track. For example, when creating a headline or title tag it is still great to optimize with targeted niche keywords. However, if you think about it this is equally great for the reader because it allows them to accurately interpret what the rest of the content will be about. As a general rule design content that is great for the reader and 9 times out of 10 it will also be great for the search engines.