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April 17, 2008

How You Define Search Engine Optimization Matters

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One thing that makes the search engine optimization industry so complex is that it’s near impossible to find two people who define SEO the same way. Eavesdrop on conversations taking place in the hotel bar during a trade show and you’ll hear people arguing whether SEO is about rankings or conversions, whether link bait is a viable technique or just today’s buzzword, what exactly qualifies as SEO, who your site should be geared for, etc. Search engine optimization may not be rocket science but it’s not as easy as making a grilled cheese sandwich either.

It’s why SEO has this weird reputation following it and why we may never come to an agreement on the SEO standards debate. The fact is, the way you define search engine optimization matters. It forms the basis for your entire viewpoint regarding how you look at SEO, and ultimately, how you create and manage a campaign.

When you talk about SEO do you look at it as a one shot deal, a long term investment, a collection of techniques you can use to steal rankings, a combo of all three?

At Bruce Clay, Inc. we believe in search engine optimization as a long-term Internet marketing strategy. And even that is misleading because it suggests that somewhere down the line there’s an “end” to that process. And we don’t feel that there is. Search engine optimization will be a part of your life for the entire life of your site. There may be times when you’ll have to focus on it more or less, but it’s never something you can completely forget about. At least not to us.

But not everyone will agree with that. When you’re judging an SEO vendor you can get a quick glimpse into how they view SEO by looking at the kind of tactics they’re preaching and the plan they’re creating for your site. Before you sign a contract, you better make sure you have aligning viewpoints.

Because we’re about creating and SEOing sites for the long term it means that we’re more interested in helping our clients to create link magnets and resources, than quick linkbait. Even though link magnets may take more time and are often harder to implement, we believe it creates more value for our clients over time. If you go to an SEO firm and they’re talking about getting links quick and don’t seem up to the challenge of ensuring those links stick long-term, then they’re probably a company who thinks of SEO as a quick fix or something you do in the beginning while still fighting for rankings. That may be all you’re looking for, but know that beforehand.

What kind of linking strategy is that SEO firm talking about building for you? When they talk about purchasing links is it about manipulating PageRank or using those links as a traffic source? Is buying links all they’re offering or do they have a competitive link strategy with a clear plan for earning you links from noted authorities in your field?

If your vendor views search engine optimization has a long term strategy, they’re likely open to teaching you best practices and explaining what they’re doing. If SEO is a quick fix to them, then they won’t be. What’s their level of transparency?

Like I mentioned, for us, search engine optimization is a long-term marketing strategy and that has a huge impact on the way we do things. We’re about getting clients off on the right foot and then working with them to maintain that. Before you go with any vendor, ask yourself what you want out of your SEO campaign. Once you know that, make sure whatever principles and views you have regarding SEO are mirrored by those you leave in charge.

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3 responses to “How You Define Search Engine Optimization Matters”

  1. Bryson Meunier writes:

    Hi Lisa,

    At Resolution Media, we also believe that SEO is a long-term marketing strategy. And if there are two companies out there with this mindset, I’m guessing there are others. What’s to stop all of us who operate this way from standardizing what we do, so that those who want to operate in an ethical, professional way can have a list of guidelines and best practices from the very beginning. As I mention in my response to your original standards rant, there are clear benefits, including solving the staffing crisis, evolving the industry and increasing investment in search. Would be interested in your thoughts.

    Best,
    Bryson

  2. Brendan Picha writes:

    Trying to grab some of my traffic Barone?!
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=define+search+engine+optimization&btnG=Google+Search

  3. Lisa writes:

    Aw, did you hit your head again, Brendan? Be more careful next time! :)



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