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  • Does SEO Still Exist?

    Ford Model T Club

    CC: Ford Model T image by me’nthedogs

    Does SEO still exist today as such? In other words: Does what people imagine to be SEO still exist in the way the people define it?

    No, this is not another “SEO has no future” post.

    Indeed by now we have arrived in the ominous future of SEO, at least some or maybe many of us. We don’t offer sheer SEO anymore. Search engine rankings and traffic, the defining terms of the trade are just not enough anymore if they ever have been enough. Now you might argue that SEO has not been about rankings and traffic for a while already etc.

    The public doesn’t know though. People who search for an SEO definition on Google, even those savvy enough to search for define:SEO will find solely definitions of SEO dealing with search engines, rankings and traffic or rather their improvement. I want to cite a few of the most findable definitions of SEO:

    “Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results”

    “Short for search engine optimization, the process of increasing the amount of visitors to a Web site by ranking high in the search results of a search engine.”

    “The true definition of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be stated as a highly specialized process of building a successful website. We say successful because if a commercial website cannot be found in the major search engines, it is not successful”

    Some of the define:SEO results are even funny from the current perspective, most others simply sound very conservative:

    “Search engine optimization, the use of various techniques to improve a web site’s ranking in the search engines and thus attract more visitors.”

    “The process of optimizing one’s website to get better results in search engines.”

    “Creating and improving a website so that it will rank high in the search engines and help potential customers or clients find the website.”

    “The process of choosing targeted keyword phrases related to a site, and ensuring that the site places well when those keyword phrases are part of a Web search.”

    Now let’s ask yourself: In case you practice or even offer SEO, what is it that you offer exactly? You might agree with these definitions above still you in most cases will do more than that.

    You most probably will be active on social media not only get links but to do some online reputation management. You will also try to improve the usability of a website, it’s security and it’s conversion rate. You will not only optimize content, you will create it, not just anything but highly linkable or even viral content.

    Now some will argue that there are better terms like

    • online or Internet marketing
    • search engine marketing (SEO + PPC)
    • search marketing

    or even some more exotic terms like

    • inbound marketing
    • findability
    • digital asset optimization
    • SEO 2.0

    Those terms most often include SEO as a part of them. On the other hand: Does standalone SEO still exist? Are there specialists or webmasters doing only SEO and ignoring all the other aspects most SEO people practice by now?

    The SEO we have defined at the beginning is the Ford Model T of our trade.

    We don’t define cars as motorized black boxes getting you from A to B.  Likewise the Model T SEO of “higher rankings and more traffic” is an insufficient definition from the past. An SEO who ignores social media, usability and conversions doesn’t do enough these days.

    Some people might argue that advanced SEO methods on the technical level make the good old SEO reasonable again but it’s like adding a new engine to your vintage Ford T. It still has poor aerodynamics and probably burns even more gas than a SUV.

    What we do in 2009 is much more holistic.

    We don’t optimize just one website or our own website/s. We optimize our web presence. We not only optimize this web presence on multiple sites and services most of which aren’t our own or search engines. We monitor and manage this holistic web presence. We shift focus depending on the tides. At the end of the day the time spend on your SEO work actually should look something like this:

    • analytics 1h
    • blogging/content creation 3h
    • social media participation 3h
    • usability & conversions (A/B split testing) 3h
    • classic SEO (on page, link building) 1h

    Oh wait, it’s 11h of work just for “modern SEO”? What about checking emails, talking to clients, counting the money ;-) ? Don’t you ever sleep as a SEO?

    You basically can’t manage all of them on a given day. Also calling all of this SEO won’t help you and your clients. When you sell them SEO they probably won’t let you do usability testing and social media. They will rather tell you “write meta tags” or “create XML sitemaps”.

    Actually what we do is web presence management.

    You might call it what you like but it’s certainly more then SEO and it’s more than search engine marketing or search marketing as well. It’s not solely online or Internet marketing as you do more than marketing you build actual websites and create actual content.

    Does SEO as we or other the others know it still exist? Yes, but there are also a few Ford Model T left. Do people still practice solely classic SEO? I bet they do, but with each day these people become less and less. I can’t imagine you getting a high profile SEO job theses days without being on Twitter.

    Don’t get we wrong. I love it when people upgrade their good old T and make a custom sports car out of it. Still, I think most of us has to move on.

    Ford Model T Touring

    CC: Ford Model T Roadster image by The Brain Toad

    I help people with blogs, social media & search. I help you succeed on the Web. I've been online publishing for 15 years. I started back in 1997.

    10 Responses to “Does SEO Still Exist?”

    1. Whilst I completely aggree with the points you have raised I would say that this is still SEO, maybe not traditional Search engine optimisation but all of the above elements go to addressing the requirements from the search engines for natural rankings & are rewarded by the engines.

      We’d all be spamming away like the bad old days if the engines still allowed and rewarded this. I’m sure we’d all be bloggin etc too but if we didn’t get the benefits of backlinks and addiview tional traffic, would we be bothering?? probably not.

      Most of us are in this market place to promote web sites in whatever format(s) provide the best commercial success, hence why new innovations and methods come and go with a few becoming permanents.

      There was barely any banners in place when I started, no ppc, no networks, no social networking/media, so we focussed onto SEO as it was the best performing medium online, it still is but is very well complimented by other mediums.

      Will be printing this off for my offline colleagues though.



    2. Todd Perlee says:

      Good timing on the last blog. I speak to a lot of prospects who are confused by SEO companies who “guarantee” doubling traffic to their sites– seems gimmicky. Do you make similar claims to your clients and do you “compete” with design firms for web projects? As an art director/designer, I’m getting a little impatient with having to explain what the SEO industry does when the conversation should be about branding, quality content and good ol’ fashion link building. Here’s a little tip for the SEO community you may not have learned in programming class: Technology should not drive brands–other way around. Todd

    3. Deana says:

      Great post. And, Amen, Todd! I was surprised a few weeks ago when a conversation at our local BarCamp became white hat vs. black hat — with a very vocal and rude black hatter who insisted that content was only a tool…not king. I was pretty furious. If you care to read my semi-rant, here it is: http://www.wellplannedweb.com/2009/09/blogging-seo-content/

    4. SEO Pakistan says:

      SEO do exists and now SEO is far more tougher job then it was before, todays SEO is more technical, there are alot of techniques involved in increasing traffic and improving site’s visibility. I firmly believe that SEO do exists coz I am a SEO;)

    5. Nico says:

      I to cannot beleive the outstanding timing of this post, I completed a site for a client approxomately one and a half years ago. I had recommended most of the SEO points mentioned above.

      He emailed last night complaining that his site had spiraled from the first page of Google to the 19th, blaming the optimisation of the site and wanting to change his metatags.

      Completelly bowled over I asked if he had followed the recommended advise some of which stated below…
      * Provide real information to your visitor, via frequent news postings on the site minimum 3 articles a week.
      * Connect with your clients via facebook, it is not just an advertising platform reach out to them at their level.
      etc. etc. etc.

      To all he answered “NO”, and to boot he said that news posts are useless, and adding that in business you are not seeking to make friends but to sell.

      Mmmm, definately model T client… I advised him to change his ways as soon as possible and to follow my advise that was after all what he was paying me for.

      So all that boils down to this…

      I have sent him a link to this great article, who knows maybe this will help him change his mind.

      Life of a developer and SEO advisor may be tough at times… LOL have a great w/end folks

    6. Oscar Del Santo says:

      I am persuaded by Tad’s arguments and I find his logic compelling. In fact, I have had the chance to work in a digital agency following that kind of philosophy regarding ‘holism’ and it most definitely works.

      Ona caveat though: integrating those kinds of projects and making SEO, SEM, analytics, ORM and other consultants together is anything but easy.

    7. Damian Doman says:

      Everyone has to move on. It should be obvious that online business is changing and it’s a process. It was, is and will be changing all the time. In order to be a successful businessmen online, we have to follow the changes.
      New inventions will not end and it applies to SEO: there is more and more factors to focus on. More people have to work on SEO, more time has to be spent on optimizing a website, more effort has to be made.
      That is why posts like that are blessings for us – thanks to them we can keep up with the changes and be up-to-date with SEO.

    8. [...] SEO is so different these days. in fact, SEO is so 2003. It truly is about search engine marketing these days and the more than ten ways free ways to get into Google results. It’s not just about getting better postions on narrow terms, though sometimes it is depending on what you’re getting paid to do. [...]

    9. 杭州SEO says:

      Great post”An SEO who ignores social media, usability and conversions doesn’t do enough these days.” currently,as a SEOs we face more challenges and time is limited
      * analytics 1h
      * blogging/content creation 3h
      * social media participation 3h
      * usability & conversions (A/B split testing) 3h
      * classic SEO (on page, link building) 1h

    10. Rob McCance says:

      Good post and I agree with most all of it. As someone that “does it all” for our company from hand coding our non-WordPress site, to running the AdWords, SEoing the site, to artistic design, you’re right – there’s a LOT to it. Further, it’s all inter-related.

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