Search engine optimised or search engine optimisation?

by Peter Young on March 7, 2009 · 4 comments

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…

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

John March 7, 2009 at 5:03 am

Its very true before going for a website its is necessary to optimize to meet the proper means of success. The Keysearch Analytics blog has tips, tricks, advice and case studies for the search marketing industry.

Paul Anthony March 9, 2009 at 5:38 am

Here here. You can’t talk about SEO seriously in today’s marketplace, without mentioning off page factors. It is where 80% of efforts should be put in a successful SEO campaign in my opinion. On page factors only reinforce positioning. That said MSN and other engines are still playing catchup to a degree and from what I’ve seen lean slightly closer towards onpage factors.

facundo March 9, 2009 at 6:08 am

I agree with the fact that the holistic approach is proving to be necessary to a succesful SEO strategy. However, I do see challenges in the role that agencies have to assume nowadays as opposed to 4 years ago. Seems to me that we will soon see many small and big business owners engaging in producing content (e.g: to be twitteable, facebookeable, etc) and the role of the SEO agency will be more about distributing this content; a hibrid between PR and the former SEO approaches…

Simon March 9, 2009 at 6:19 am

I agree 100%. Loads of shady companies offering basic on page SEO and dressing it up as a holistic package. This stems from the lack of understanding over what “SEO” is or should be defined as.

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