There are hundreds of resources available to tell you what SEO is, but it’s just as important to know what SEO is not. You can quickly learn some tips and best practices by perusing the internet, but it’s easy to misconstrue the concepts of optimizing your website without the right guidance. When SEO is implemented badly or incompletely (even if you have the best intentions) the repercussions for your website can be negative.
When a business owner thinks of optimizing their site, they might start by finding a few things to focus on and implement them right away. They might start by putting a bunch of keywords all over their pages. Or they may try to figure out how to generate thousands of backlinks (disregarding the validity or source). Knowing what SEO is, what it’s not, and how to use it to your advantage can make a big difference in the success of your site.
SEO Is Not:
- A Quick Fix. Optimizing a website is an ongoing process that needs to be accompanied by constant research and monitoring. When executed correctly over a long period of time it will produce positive results for your website and business; however, if on-page SEO is performed and then abandoned it is unlikely to succeed.
- You Vs. The Search Engines. Believe it or not, Google and the others want your website to succeed. Their only real aim is to ensure the information they serve to users is accurate, helpful and engaging; that way, users will get everything they want from one search engine without going anywhere else. As such, it’s in their interests for the websites they present in search to be as high quality as possible. The people you are competing against are, in fact, the other businesses and websites that are targeting the same searches as you.
- A Bag of Tricks and Shortcuts to get your website ahead of everyone else’s, though many providers treat it that way. In fact, modern SEO is fundamentally about following the rules: essentially, reading and interpreting what search engines expect from websites and then applying it to specific clients and situations.
- A Guarantee of Success. SEO is a critical part in building a successful website, but focusing ONLY on optimization doesn’t necessarily mean your website will succeed. Creating a website that does well is a continual process that requires attention to multiple areas, not just SEO.
- A List of Static Rules. The phrase any SEO professional uses the most is “it depends”. Search engines are constantly changing to better serve their users. Moreover, different websites and industries have different requirements and priorities; also, every situation is unique. Sure, there are some requirements (e.g. well formatted, keyword rich page titles) that are pretty well set in stone; but following and implementing a set of rules just once and hoping it serves your website forever will be detrimental in the long run.
- Something to be “Outsmarted”. There are loopholes in SEO, but they are always heading for extinction. Each time you exploit a loophole, you’re helping to shorten the time until search engines catch on. When they do, they close the loophole, and dole out nasty consequences for your website. Doing SEO well means playing fairly, by their rules.
- A Cheap Solution. Implementing an SEO strategy that yields results in the long run will require ongoing fees. It shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, but it also shouldn’t be a low cost, one time fee that promises results. Working with the right team will be a worthwhile investment that will help your website succeed.
- Dead. The internet is covered with articles heralding the death of SEO. With every improvement of Google’s algorithm people ask the same question. But the answer, unequivocally, is “no”. Yes, the internet is always evolving and search engines have new capabilities all the time. But SEO is here to stay.
That’s what SEO isn’t, so what is it?…Well, it’s fascinating; despite what you may have heard it’s pretty good fun; and, when performed correctly, it’s a way to generate online business and interest on the strength of your own merits alone without having to pump thousands of dollars into paid advertising. Doing it takes expertise, and from clients it takes patience and faith, but it really, really, really works.