It seems to be getting more and more difficult to define what exactly SEO is. Is it on-page optimization? Link building? Conversion optimization? Or is just about rankings, and leave the rest of that stuff to someone else?
I think it’s some of both and a little of all. SEO has to focus on more than just “getting rankings” and must use the knowledge of the search engines to bring together all the various online marketing elements into a singular web marketing campaign. People seem to be using the term “inbound marketing” more and more to describe this integrated approach.
Businesses today need much more than an SEO agency. They need a web marketing solution that looks beyond rankings to help clients set online growth goals, develop strategies to achieve those goals and measure the success of those strategies along the way. Those goals are achieved through a variety of online marketing channels.
SEOs must use the skills they have to provide needed recommendations to get clients the results they want, regardless of the avenue it takes to get those results. SEOs are there to help you build the most optimized, search- and searcher-friendly site possible; this attracts visitors, builds engagement and, ultimately, converts those visitors into customers.
Why Collaboration is Essential
Successful SEO is not the responsibility of any one person, but is a collaboration between the marketers, the developers and the business managers. If any one group fails to fulfill their part in the process, the success of the online marketing campaign also fails. After all, we don’t rank websites, Google does.
Over the past five years search engines have added an increasing number of signals that factor into the ranking performance of a website. Google boasts there are more than 200 ranking signals being used, and at any time there are anywhere from 50-200 different versions of the algorithm in effect. The weight of each of the search signals vary by industry, website and even the individual as locality, personalization, social networks, relevance, comprehensiveness, freshness and speed all factor in and even change on a daily basis.
It takes much more than an “optimized” website to get good rankings. It takes a great website! That means great design, great usability, great content, great customer service, great architecture, great optimization and time. You can have all the right pieces for a great website but time is still a crucial factor.
For search engines, ranking a website is about trust. The more the site is trusted in all the areas mentioned above, the better it will rank. But as with any relationship, trust takes time to build, and, unfortunately, there are no shortcuts.
Building a Great Website
Much of what Google or other search engines consider a “quality website” deemed worthy of a top ranking falls outside the scope of traditional SEO (i.e. adding keywords to the page). The SEO and web marketing team must help you set the strategy (or work with you to do so), make recommendations, and seek out ways to improve your site based on known algorithm criteria, personal experience and historical testing. These recommendations must then be implemented if you want results.
It’s not about temporarily achieving top rankings because you’ve outsmarted the algorithm, but rather to build a site that deserves top rankings because your website is better than the competition and you’ve established the trust signals to prove it. SEO firms today must be web marketing firms that do SEO (and social media, analytics, link building, etc.). The goal is to help you build a better website. No, not just a better website, a great website!
Call that SEO if you want. Some are now calling it “Inbound Marketing.” I just call it good Web marketing!