I’m getting really tired of articles proclaiming ‘SEO is dead’ and offering up the ‘next big thing’ as the panacea to all ills. Almost all of these articles are written to try and provoke a response, get some attention and in some cases to just earn a cheap backlink.
The problem is that very few of these authors actually bother to take apart the three letter abbreviation that is SEO. If they did they would realise that what they are writing about is probably not SEO but one of the old tactics used by people who proclaimed they were SEO experts.
SEO is, quite simply, Search Engine Optimisation. It is the process by which you optimise the elements of a website to help it rank in the Search Engines. It is not buying a million links. It is not guest blogging on every site you can find that will carry your content. It is not stuffing the keyword you want to rank for as many times as you can on the page and it is not a dark art surrounded with smoke and mirrors.
For those who have read this far, you may be wondering what it really is; well SEO is quite simply about organising information in a way that Search Engines can easily make sense of it. This breaks down into three clear parts;
- On page – what the user can see
- On site – the code behind the page that the search engines read
- Off site – the voice of the crowd; who actually likes us?
On page is all about user experience, or UX as it is often termed. Little things make a difference here like actually telling people not only what you are selling but also the benefits to them of buying it. Sounds obvious but too many websites miss this altogether. There are masses of articles out there already about UX, just Google it and take your pick.
On site is the bit often missed by ‘cookie cutter’ SEO companies, mostly because they simply don’t understand it. If they can’t tell their meta descriptions from their meta keywords, and don’t know how or why these elements might be important, then your site still won’t rank properly in search. Getting this right can save you a fortune as many small sites will rank naturally if this and the on page elements are in place.
Finally, the bit where many SEO’s came unstuck, Off Site. Google refers to this as ‘the voice of the crowd’; put simply it is a measure of how your site relates to other sites and how popular it is. This is generally measured by the quality and quantity of links that are pointing back to your site from elsewhere in the web. Over abused by SEO companies simply because, despite everything else, good backlinks still count for more than anything else, this is the area Google has been trying to police for the past four years.
Those who prophesied the end of SEO often did so mistaking the past behaviour of buying and over optimising links as SEO in its own right. It wasn’t and never will be SEO. SEO always has been about so much more than just links, or how a site looks, or how it is built; it is about the sum of all those things and so much more.
Professional search engine optimisation is not something that you can buy off the shelf in a box as there are too many variables. Every site is different and whilst the basic elements and tactics may remain consistent, how you get there won’t. Optimising a Joomla site and a Wordpress site can be hugely different experiences and you need someone who understands this working on your site.
So the next time you read that ‘SEO is dead’ please feel free to take it with a pinch of salt or take the author to task. Professional SEO is an integral part of any good Digital Marketing strategy and needs to be there alongside PPC, PR , Social Media and a range of other tactics.
The clue is in the title and as long as we have Search Engines we will need Search Engine Optimisation.