The Search Engine Optimisation industry has exploded in to a huge economy in a very short space of time, keeping pace with the growth of the Internet, naturally.
The term itself is perfectly fine – Optimising web pages to conform with good practice recommended by Search Engines such as Google, Bing Ads and Yahoo (those latter two are server from the same system, if you didn’t already know).
Well optimised pages and social accounts, along with a strong backlink profile will feature higher in the search results and generate more traffic. However, the algorithm which decides those things has changed beyond all recognition of its original form. The signals which contributed to rank were too easy to manipulate. To “cheat” the system, as many “SEO Experts” did, made themselves and their clients a lot of money by increasing the volume of free clicks and sales which were made as a result.
That system and those techniques are long gone. The Penguin update punished sites using those manipulative techniques that added no value to the user, penalising sites with backlinks from sites with no relevance to the site being linked to. Links and content created purely for Search Engines stopped working.
No, but understanding what it means is important if you’re going to employ an SEO agency or do SEO yourself.
Consider the bigger picture; this is a Digital Marketing Strategy. A strategy created and designed to increase your sales, pure and simple. That strategy isn’t “Number one on Google”, that’s a result, not a strategy.
Everything you do online should first be done for one of two reasons; it’s valuable for your audience and customers, or it adds credibility to your brand.
Don’t create content for Search Engines, create it to make your customers laugh or gape in awe or learn something. Create it to increase the credibility and reach of your brand. Optimise it for Search Engines, of course, but it’s marketing activity first, with an SEO wrapper around it.
Don’t create backlinks for Search Engines, create them to lead users from relevant external sites to your site to find something useful, interesting and valuable. If you’re a specialist in CRM systems, links to your blog posts from a CRM forum are relevant to those users. Create links for the purpose of driving traffic – those links are valued within the algorithm and you’ll get some SEO benefit as a consequence (SEO is your secondary reason, not your primary reason for link-building).
Don’t do Social Media for SEO. Social Media is about building your brand, your reputation and trust in your products or services. Social Media is an outlet for the content you created to educate, inspire and enchant your audience. Social Media is the platform on which to create relationships between you and your brand amongst your peers and your market. Social Media activity, those shared links, that engagement, features in the ranking algorithm. Optimise your Social Media profiles and posts for Search Engines of course, but first and foremost, do Social Media for your brand and your audience.
SEO is merely the technical aspect of your Digital Marketing Strategy. That strategy will most likely feature optimisation of the User Experience on your website to increase sales, it will feature a Content strategy to increase your credibility and feature a Social Media strategy to build trust.
Each of those Digital Marketing strategies should be justified on their individual merits in driving traffic to your site or increasing brand and ultimately increasing leads and sales. They can all be optimised for Search Engines but SEO is the glue which connects those strategies, the wrapper around each of them.
SEO is not a Digital Marketing Strategy, it’s just one element which significantly increases the organic search traffic referred from Search Engines for relevant user searches.
SEO should not drive your Content, Sales or Social Media strategies, it is merely the wrapper around them.
Call it SEO, by all means, but understand what SEO is. For SEO to increase your ranking and sales, you first need a Digital Marketing Strategy for it to be part of.
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