From a client perspective, its a minefield out there, with numerous agencies touting search engine optimisation (SEO) credentials, and in the UK, as with many other countries the level and scope of these services varies significantly – from specialist boutique search marketing agencies to digital specialists to full service agencies.
The main problem however is often what constitues SEO in many of these cases. Whilst awareness of SEO and what is good SEO has increased significantly over the last three years or so, there are still a number of services out there which offer nothing more than on-page good practise, without any mention of good content, syndication, link acquisition or the like. Its an observation I have unfortunately had to make on a number of occasions to organisations and realism is often misaligned to their expectations and thus often results in disappointment and disillutionment in the SEO process.
Modern day SEO is a complex undertaking. Gone are the days where search marketeers could get away with tweaking site copy and developing meta tags – today Geo-Targeting, personalisation and the integration of multiple channels are all considerations of the modern day Search engine optimisation specialist. As such the remit of mere on-page optimisation is only a quarter of the job. Gone are the days where search marketeers simply tweak a number of on-page factors such as meta tags.
Don’t get me wrong, physical on-page optimisation of aspects such as title tags, alt tags and the like still have their part to play in best practise optimisation, however they are no longer a major factor in the SEO process, and I would suggest modern day SEO has become a more holistic marketing undertaking, underpinning and enhancing many traditional channels. These days, search awareness can be achieved via the distribution of online PR, the seeding of a campaign via a social media platform such as Facebook. Stumbleupon or Twitter or the development of a channel on Youtube. All are assets that can be optimised online, and work outside of the framework of the main website itself.
As such as and advertiser you need to be thinking multi-faceted. Brand optimisation for many brands is an easy win, and remains one of the remits where some wins can still be achieved via primarily on-page optimisation techniques. As a direct response channel this is probably the biggest win for many larger organisations. However for many organisations, non-brand remains the biggest traffic driver, and with competition often far higher in these areas, success requires a more comprehensive and allround optimisation process.
Don’t get me wrong a site needs to be search engine optimised, however this needs to be put in context. Optimised does not necessarily mean success, unless you are willing to integrate other facets into a holistic search optimisation process and provide your site, with the support mechanisms it needs. If you are thinking search engine optimisation, it is imperative you think beyond just the mere nuts and bolts of your website.
At the end of the day , having a search engine optimised site is just half the story, a bit like having a car without an engine…