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
- 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.
CC: Ford Model T Roadster image by The Brain Toad