There is still a lot people don’t understand about SEO. Most of them expect overnight revenue, overnight search engine placements and all magic answers to their expectations. Then we have the online debates, where some say SEO is ethical, others dispute it as a way to manipulate the search engines in the detriment of the competition.
You can find many definitions of “SEO” online, but none of them satisfies the real need of information that puzzles the minds of the Webtrepreneurs. Let me give you my own definition.
When you take a book in your hands, what you hold is the result of the hard work of many: the author, the editor, the proofreader, the typographer, the cover designer, the illustrator…
When you read, you don’t focus on the author, you focus on the story. But the author is there, of course. Sometimes there is a short biography, especially when we deal with a classic, but most of times the book is all about the story and the way the story flows.
The way the story flows… now that’s an interesting aspect. The author is the main actor in this. Because it is his/her story. But the editor takes care that this story doesn’t lose itself in irrelevant rambles, avoids redundancy and it meets the requirements of the public.
Because the editor knows what the readers really want and the editor will make suggestions that prepare the book for the bookshelves of the libraries and will lead the book to market domination. This is how a bestseller is born.
Then the book has a title and it is structured in chapters. Sometimes they have their own titles, sometimes they don’t. But the structure is there.
The book has a table of contents too, to help you find faster what you are interested in.
The book has an index of terms if it is a specialty book. Near each term the editors will list the number of the page on which you can find more information related to that term.
The book will have a glossary of terms too, if its purpose is didactic.
When you read it you will notice correct grammar, proper spelling and punctuation. A proofreader took care of that.
You will also see that the layout of the pages is consistent throughout the book. The typographer did his job. Unless the book is an atlas or needs emphasis with pictures and graphics, unless the book is a kids’ book, there will not be many graphics. Images will not distract from the content. Nothing will break the rhythm.
The cover will have a nice, appealing design. The title will be there too, as well as the name of the author. There will always be a copyright notice somewhere on the first pages.
So how does all of the above relate with SEO?
Simple: SEOs are the editors.
SEO is editing a site, optimizing it, preparing it for the market.
The Internet is a huge library and the search engines are the bookshelves. You go there, look for your virtual book, and pick by title.
But first you have a term in mind, a “keyword”. Something you want more information about and you type it in the search query box.
The search engines will deliver, in a matter of seconds, thousands of pages that offer information related to that term. You will pick some of them, one by one. Usually you will pick the ones that answer to your question from the first glance. Because you know that a title that says “Luxury Villas in Madrid” will lead you to information about Luxury villas in Madrid and not about fish. You will pick that one over a title that says “Where to live in Madrid” because you want specific information about the residence of your dreams and not some random information on life style. But you will probably pay attention to the site with general information too, if you are a foreigner who wants to relocate in Madrid. And if none of the two sites answers your questions, you will go on surfing, searching, picking up other titles from the Internet’s bookshelves.
In real life when the content of a book doesn’t satisfy your need of knowledge, you look for another book, and another, and another. You go at the library and search. You ask the librarian and she will do the search for you. No matter how you look at it: you’ll search.
Online… you do the same thing: when one website doesn’t offer all the answers you look for another.
Now you understand why, as a website owner, it is in your best interest to optimize your site. Learn how to do it yourself, or hire an SEO.
A standard misconception is that SEO prepares a site to rank high for the keywords that have the most relevance. Yes, this is one of the reasons to do SEO. One of the less important reasons. SEO is not about search engine rankings, but about creating a better website for the users.
SEO will not force a visitor to buy a product from you, it will not make a visitor click on the ads that bring you the most revenue. SEO should not be an attempt to rank in the search engines for Web pages that bring no real value for the users. Many people have a hard time accepting that their websites lack value. But one thing should be clear from the start: without value there is no point in doing SEO.