What SEO really is

SEO is easy

Since I started doing SEO at the end of 2004, I always thought (especially after having seen the first success cases, few months later) that SEO was (and still is) easy.

For several years, I thought that my strong technical background was my big advantage over the average SEO.

But if that was true, then why so many other SEOs with a strong technical background don’t find it that easy? Instead, they struggle with stress of performance, the fear of penalties, the doubts about different options, and the uncertainty of the next Google update. Many SEOs proceed with tactics and techniques, trying to force the algorithm, accepting the risk of penalties, happily before getting caught, sadly afterward.

And this happens with those who call themselves SEO.

What about the others? For example, those who just hear something here and there about SEO, but who don’t really understand it, who don’t really know what it is, who barely care. What about those who know that one day “Content is the king” and the day after “SEO is dead”? Or those who ask themselves (if they get to ask themselves questions at all!) “should I use the dash or the underscore in the URLs?”, “how many times should I repeat this keyword in this text?”, “do I put more keywords in the title?” or “how long should this text be?”, like the complexity of a search engine like Google can be faced with this kind of questions… What about those who are just lost, those that SEO is all about content marketing; or all about buying links. Maybe SEO is just spam.

Or, even worse, black magic.

This is a very common perception of what SEO is.

Then, why did I always find SEO very straightforward? Why something complicated for others was so easy for me? Now I know it’s because of my different approach. An approach that turns inside out even the definition of SEO itself, an approach that requires a rigorous attention to the details and the mind focused on the big picture, an approach that starts from ignoring the most used metrics and tactics.

Change perspective

Forget keywords. Forget ranking. Forget links.

Don’t look at Google like the enemy to fight; look at Google like a judge who evaluates the quality of a website; more, the quality of the whole business. And look at SEO as a guideline on how to do the right thing the right way.

Pretend it’s not about search engines. After all, SEO is optimization on every level, from server and network to users and conversions.

SEO is optimization of every single aspect of an online business, and every single department within the company can have an impact on SEO:

  • Marketing (brand, social, country)
  • Affiliates
  • UX
  • System and network administration
  • Web developers
  • Finance
  • Customer support

SEO is optimization of every single thing, because every single thing can have an impact on the ranking on search engines.

Don’t consider it a marketing channel. It’s not a competition with other channels. It’s about improving the whole business.

  • It’s about improving usability of a website.
  • It’s about improving speed of a website.
  • It’s about improving trust of a website.
  • It’s about improving recognition of a website.

Keep SEO in mind when doing your own job. That way you can contribute to SEO success; that way SEO success will be also your success!

There’s nothing done for search engines only. Saying something is done for search engines actually means that something is done in a better way.

What SEO really is

SEO is about doing the right thing the right way.

With 12 billion searches per month, Google knows quite well what its users want and what makes a site good or bad.

So, take SEO as a guideline on what to do, and how to do it. Ranking will just naturally follow, once the right thing is done the right way.

Basically, you should always chase perfection. And who decides if something is right is, in the end, the final user. To chase perfection, you should start by following the best practices, and then you should improve your work by analysing its results. It’s an ongoing process that involves every single element, of a website and of a business.

When this result is achieved, search engines will reflect this achievement by ranking the website accordingly.

You do SEO

You need to understand how your work impacts SEO. Because, like it or not, your work is already doing that, because everything done on a website can potentially lead to a change of evaluation of the website by a search engine.

Be curious. You really need to have your mind on SEO effects all the time, because they do happen all the time!

Ask yourself how your work has an impact on SEO, and find out how you can improve them both, your work and its impact. Start from a search on Google. If you can’t see how your work can have an impact on SEO, keep on trying. I assure you your work has an impact on (at least) one of these three big pillars of SEO: technical, content, popularity.

The three pillars of SEO

The technical SEO is about things like accessibility, indexability, site speed, usability, structured data.

The content side has today evolved into what is called content marketing. However, before content marketing, it’s important to remember the basic features of a good content (uniqueness, usefulness, attractiveness) and the right use of every element (title, meta description, alt attribute, canonical).

There is then the popularity of a website. This important part of SEO is mostly about links. Links are seen like votes by Google, so you want to get more links. It’s important to understand that even just a good customer support experience can potentially lead to a link, so doing it right is important.

Yes, a customer support agent can have a big impact on SEO. Still thinking if your job can really have an impact on SEO?

The ultimate goal

The real goal of SEO is to improve the visibility of a website on search engines by deserving that visibility.

To deserve maximum visibility, a site has to be the best. SEO is business optimization and growth, because it involves the improvement of the product.

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