Search Optimization: Still Misunderstood & Under-utilized?

I think so, to both. This is a quick study of why I do…

 

SEO is Misunderstood

Background

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a term that was coined in July 1997, where it was used publicly in what was perceived to be a spam message, hardly an auspicious beginning. Over the years, the term ‘search engine optimization’ has become synonymous in the eyes of the general public with spamming techniques, and with the deliberate manipulation of the SERPs (search engine results pages) to reflect less than optimal results via ‘black-hat’  or spamdexing techniques.

 

Regardless, the SEO industry has grown and continues to grow as many marketers, web developers and planners have realized that SEO can legitimately - effectively and efficiently - assist their online brand exposure, sales and other marketing objectives.

 

So What is SEO?

It’s a multifaceted discipline and is the practice of the following 4 summary points, and more:

 

·         Understanding a website’s primary online objective and how that fits in with the businesses overarching marketing objective, which in turn should be supportive of the business model and corporate strategy. How? By understanding the client, and the economic and industry landscape at a bare minimum.

 

·         Conducting online competitive and market research on behalf of the client. This is not simply limited to keyword research; this is about understanding the search query language and intent of the online target market, their search patterns and behaviors, their demographics and personality types (grouped averages), how they interact with the web, where their sticky and stumbling points are (what your users like, and what they will leave) and much more.

 

·         Analyzing the client web site’s onpage elements in terms of the research findings and best practice SEO. The objective being to assess how usable and navigable the site is to human uses and spiders, as well as how well the site answers the interest and likely search behavior intent of the client’s target market.

This is analyzed in terms of onpage content relevance and includes a remit of other variables that require some nifty foot-work; there are usually some brand or legal requirements, some usability issues to contend with, friction with creatives and marketing, difficulties with CMS or other backend database limitations, unclear expectations, unreasonable goals, and on-and-on so the wheel turns.

 

·         Understanding the importance of effective backlinking strategy, integrated social media strategy and the ability to work effectively with public relations and social via innovative and best practice strategy to boost buzz in the blogosphere via the social networks. This in turn is all about creating or enhancing the Trust and PageRank of a site via efficient backlinking from trusted, related, authority resources.

 

The Challenge?

Personally, I’m really, really tired of the uninformed or the simply ignorantly arrogant stating with utter conviction that SEO is a ‘waste of time’ and that it is conducted only by ‘snake-oil salesmen’.

 

Actually, effective SEO is pretty hard work, it’s not that easy, and it is a big deal. In my books, SEO remains misunderstood by the masses and I’m fast turning into Ms. Cranky-Pants when it comes to answering these detractors.

 

SEO is Under-utilized

Background

Search engine optimization has never really had a home. SEOs float between being considered web developers, content writers and online marketers; a jack-of all trades but master-of-none apart from the mystical ability to ‘work’ the search engines.

 

So Where Should SEO be Aligned?

To be honest, it depends entirely on the seniority of the position and the requirements of the role – much as with most other jobs. But my summary take will consider an SEO lead/management position, and it is this; an SEO lead should be able to:

 

·         effectively project manage a team of SEM folks (both organics and PPC)

 

·         work hand in glove with IA, design, copy/content writers and development

 

·         understand as much as we know we can about search engine optimization without hands-on the actual algorithms themselves

 

·         have a good understanding of client/in-house brand integrity, design philosophy, content methodology and legal requirements

 

·         be able to hand code html and have a sound understanding of most web development techniques, and popular CMS and analytics programs

 

·         train best practice SEO based on discipline functions from a very high level down (that’s not as easy as it sounds)

 

·         work with other online and offline marketing leads to ensure that SEO is aware of – and if necessary included in –  all marketing initiatives to ensure that there are targeted pages created for tag-lines used in billboards or TV ads (e.g.)

 

·         ensure full integration with public relations to contribute to all online press releases as well as to have a heads-up on all offline releases to facilitate on-site answer and speak to targeted search query follow up

 

·         work with social, R&D and XD (experience design) when social and keyword research provides insights to new opportunities or threats, or identifies competitive strengths or weaknesses.

 

The Challenge?

Being an effective SEO manager or lead requires patience, dedication, tenacity, humility, credibility, diplomacy and so much more that that topic alone deserves a post of its own.

 

Hopefully I’ve covered some points worthy of highlighting here, but I’d love to hear what you have to say!

 

 

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