As you might know, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, or if referring to the person who does it, Search Engine Optimizer. At least, it used to. Nowadays, partly thanks to the efforts of a community hyped up about the age-old, Bill Gatesian "Content is King" mantra, it’s also referred to lovingly as Search Experience Optimization.
Traditionally, the way SEOs approach a website (note, traditionally), is via a three-pronged attack:
1) Technical optimization – where we make sure that the titles and metas are there, that robots.txt and XML sitemaps are in place, that all redirections are kosher etc. This is what we do to ensure that the search engines can index the site and its pages properly. Indexing means that the page can be searched for.
2) Semantic (or keyword) optimization – where we partake in an endless tug-of-war between the popularity of a keyword versus its competition. Keywords are search queries that your preferred customers use. If you own a webstore that sells skis, you want the site to be found by people who are looking for winter sports equipment and not hammocks. This is achieved by priming your content to make use of these keywords as inconspicuously as possible.
3) External (or link profile or inbound marketing) optimization – where we try to build the hype around the site, because we know that parts (1) and (2) are simply not enough to lure people in. You see, it matters where you appear in the search engine results page (or SERP). It’s crazy, but apparently if you’re not in the top 10, you’re out of luck. You get there by increasing your site’s popularity. And what is a better sign of popularity than people linking to your site?
So think of it like this:
No it isn’t! If you’re approached by SEOs who promise you the moon and stars by doing nothing but the above, you’re in for an unpleasant treat. The problem with the traditional approach is that somewhere along the way someone forgot that humans use search engines (and some very well educated apes).
That’s the beauty of search experience optimization as the new SEO. You’re not creating your website for search engines, you’re creating it for users! That’s what Google’s been telling you to do all along! Forget tactics, forget dirty schemes to undermine Google’s algorithms, forget buying links from the black market, just focus on content. That’s all there should be to it.
But that’s what SEOs have to do. They have to help the customer market their content. They have to know what’s cool and what isn’t. And they have to know the right channels to promote the content in.
So add step number (4) to the list as an all-encompassing feature of SEO work: content strategy. It’s the most important thing by a landslide, as none of the other aspects works in the long run without a decent content strategy to back it up.
And that’s all there is to it. In a nutshell, SEO is all about creating magical content to lure, charm, and convert your site visitors into loyal fans. It’s all about the buzz, the viral videos, and the annoying memes. It’s about being unique in a forum where being unique is almost impossible. It’s about finding the critical point between hype and saturation, and hanging in there for as long as you can.