Working at a digital marketing agency, we are asked about search engine optimization all the time. Fortunately it is not our only focus and I am proud to say we have become a pretty well rounded agency.
Nevertheless, we frequently sit down to discuss strategies that have the ultimate goal of helping client websites position well in search engine results.
These meetings have become even more frequent in the wake of Google's latest algorithm updates.
So this may be controversial but I feel it needs to be said,
We have come to feel uneasy about the term 'Search Engine Optimization'.
We don't like the idea of making decisions where the only objective is to cater to a search engine's needs and wants.
All decisions should cater to the needs of the visitors to your website.
The principle of thinking about search engine optimization as simply altering a site so that it caters to a search engine lacks foresight, and the term SEO encourages this kind of short sighted strategy.
While some of these search engine focused strategies may have worked in the past, I feel comfortable saying that this style of 'old school' SEO is no longer the path to increasing website traffic.
That said, I am not saying there is no place for SEO nor am I jumping on this "SEO is dead" band wagon. My thoughts are just that SEO is a bad title, instead we should think of ourselves as content developers, marketers, PR, publishers etc.
Our job is to optimize a website for the person who is going to be using it. Our goals are to build high quality, mobile friendly websites that grab attention, engage, motivate, sell products, gather leads and garner referrals; our goals are not to impress a search engine!
It just so happens that optimizing a website for a visitor is going to result in an improved search engine rank and this improvement will not be at risk every time Google releases a new update.
Moving into 2014, there has never been a better time for our industry to focus on the bigger picture and have the foresight to start looking at life beyond the search engine.
As Google moves more and more towards being nothing more than a very advanced scrapper, displaying other peoples content as their own the time has arrived to reassess our objectives.
We would encourage marketers to focus on building visitor engagement and loyalty and develop strategies to promote your webpage effectively without a search engine.
A great user experience not only ensures that the visitor will view many pages, spend time reading content and revisit the site, it still sends all the right signals to search engines!
Importantly, it does this without the preconceived notion that our job is somehow only related to coming up with new ways to 'game' search engines.
The key to successful online marketing seems to derive from a strategy based around diverse social and search activity that promotes on-going engagement.
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Published: 04 Nov 2014
Author: Dan Preece