Man At Desk

What does SEO even mean anymore?

Published on November 19, 2013 by Josh Smith

So here’s what I know to be true about the state of online marketing for regular businesses today..

In my mind there are 2 boats, and in one there are the small businesses who are are scratching their heads and firing cash at one or several approaches that they aren’t either a) knowingly educated enough in or b) incorrectly educated in, resulting in the kind of stubbornness that won’t allow even an expert of experts on this subject matter to change the facts for them- In my experience you just have to nod along with these people because you just can’t shake them. The second boat is filled with everyone else who ends up not doing anything at all, hoping, praying, and relying on the fact that what once worked for their business’ marketing might work again someday, and if they can endure this strange, modern age storm, maybe this digital era we’re in will regress, and having a business withOUT an online presence will be OK once more.

So here’s what I want to do.. I’m going to build another boat with the words of this blog- for the reader who doesn’t want any part of either one of the two vessels above.. A fast, fun boat, that’s going to de-clutter all the available noise there is for you to lose yourself in when it comes to SEO, Online Ads, and even social media, to help you get a better understanding of the game as it stands today, and what YOU can do with it no matter what business you have, what industry you run in, or what market you serve.

To kick it off, here’s a barrage of questions that I’m going to paraphrase and roll into one messy one which has popped up quite a lot in my world lately- “This guy I know is telling me about this SEO stuff that I need for my site and I don’t understand it, and I’m interested in how YOU are going to help ME with my leads and sales.. but is it the same as SEO, and or will it benefit my SEO.. Oh and I think I want to be on Page 1 of Google too- will you make that happen.. or will this other guy make it happen because he says apparently he has a special relationship with Google.. or something.. And what even IS SEO for that matter?

.. I know I know- PUMP THE BREAKS there Turbo.

For the record I’m not an SEO guy.. Search Engines are changing hard and fast these days as the internet is growing up, and the fact that theres a saturated market of operators in that space- I’ve stayed away from it, so it does not play a part in my core business. BUT in saying that… I’d be an ignorant digital marketer to not keep myself as much in the loop as possible on the matter right? So that when questions like the one above come up, I can answer them in a valuable manner and keep my prospects and my clients on the down low.

Let’s br-br-break it down then.. In two nutshells I’m going to summarise the difference between 1) SEO (Search Engine Optimisation- incase I’ve already lost you) and 2) Online advertising. Both are worlds apart, but both drive a similar result, but both command a different process.

Nutshell number 1- SEO. SEO as per my dictionary is the maximisation of your current and future holdings on the internet- content in all it’s forms: website(s), articles, blogs, and videos to make them as search engine sexified as possible, in the hopes that YOU as a result of your digital material will be EASILY discoverable on Google (I say Google because that’s the coolest search engine on the block and people just get it.. Could be Yahoo! Bing.. Whatever) through the types of searches that your key audience make. If you want the acid test to find out if your SEO is up to scratch just Google your PROFESSION/SERVICE + your location. Then you’ll see how well you do from an SEO perspective.. Don’t type your business name and your location because that’s kind of cheating and I’d be surprised if you didn’t show up on page 1. REMEMBER that people aren’t searching for YOU.. unless they know who you are and your business name and want you especially.. They are searching for the SOLUTION to a PROBLEM that you HOPE you are the first page answer too. I think I’ll repeat that: They are searching for the SOLUTION to a PROBLEM that you HOPE you are the first page answer too.

Nutshell number 2- Online Advertising. Online advertising is the instant solution to gaining qualified traffic in a matter of hours.. Maybe minutes- depends how good you are, what platform you use, and how you use it. I HATE “quantum leap” type marketing and sales messaging.. You know the whole “Hey buy the AbSwing Pro 6.5.2 Limited Edition and if you don’t have abs in exactly 2 and half days we’ll refund your money plus pay off your mortgage..” BUT.. as close to “quantum leap” pitching I will allow myself to give you, online ads done the right way is pretty dang good for qualified lead gen and sales in the fastest manner possible right now.

..I think it’s clear to see where my love lies out of SEO and Online Ads..

Am I saying SEO is a waste of time..? Heck no. Am I saying that Online Advertising is the bee’s knees..? hmm it depends how you’re doing it. But I will maintain this: WHAT your business is, and HOW you’ve placed yourself online, SHOULD come into the marketing strategy (SEO or Online Ads) you run with. Perhaps you should consider both, maybe one over the other is a better option.. For now. But here’s where I believe I can give you a pretty decent run down on understanding where to put your marketing focus by clearing the muddy waters of the online world or traffic, lead generation, and the biggest of all- sales..

If I were to write a dummy’s guide to search engines it’d essentially come down to this:Engines like the behemoth that is Google run on all these ‘bi-fi sci-fi con’ (my way of saying super techy) algorithms.. Google in particular creates new algorithms all the time and enjoys naming them after animals, and in recent years we’ve been subjected to so many changes that Google could now fill a zoo with the amount of wildlife they’ve put behind the search bar we fire questions into daily. These algorithms are FANTASTIC for helping the searcher get what he or she needs.. BUT for the SEO consultants that litter every networking meeting you’ll ever go to for the rest of the foreseeable future, they have played HAVOC with everything that they once knew about making YOUR business visible.. I’ve read so many articles and listened to so many people complain about how “SEO has become so hard”.. “and these damn algorithms keep setting us back”  that I kind of feel like an outcast, and I say that because I personally am a HUGE fan of the changes. MASSIVE, throw my underwear at rockstars fan. Why? Well.. SEO just simply isn’t simple anymore. And that in my eyes is BRILLIANT. It used to be so that SEO could be massively gamed.. It used to be about who was ‘technically‘ very good at giving search engines information that checked your boxes comes search time. There was all this crap about ‘White Hat’ and ‘Black Hat’ and ‘back linking’ that affected a user’s search and often lead to results that weren’t valuable, they were just technically correct for what Google needed to know, in order to rank them above other people who just didn’t know to play the game.

Then it all changed.

Every man and his dog has been enabled by technology on some level. Some to a larger extent than others. BUT what technology has also done, has given more people the balls, resources, and opportunities to go and have a punt at business or leverage their existing offline business’ by getting them online. Market places are as a result noisier than they have ever been and the internet was becoming (still is.. but the filtering system is better) filled with total crap. People who gave no real value were topping search engines because they worked out how they could game the system- game it for themselves.. game it for others in return for money.. and thus the industry of SEO ran rampant.

..But then the menagerie that is the Noah’s Arc of Google algorithms came in and changed the game repeatedly- turning the tide just when people felt they had it all worked out.. Whilst some people see this as evil and unfortunately many businesses lost A LOT of money through the investments they have made in SEO companies, the world of SEO as it exists today is a vastly different world to the one that existed 2.. 3.. 4 or even 10 years for that matter. The geniuses behind the search engines we use have come to this point of maturity and clarity where they can now acknowledge that the people of the world who are constantly searching their databases for answers are in fact.. PEOPLE. They’ve recognised that us humans shouldn’t just be given answers based upon a 2D perspective of the internet that simply takes in surface level information. Instead they’ve come to grow to know that people are very 3Dimensional.. maybe even 4 in the way that the questions we ask are fuelled by.. and this is important this part- INTENTIONS, and by understanding intentions, it gives Google geniuses the ability to gear their machine towards understanding and most importantly SERVING people..

We ask questions because we seek information that is going to assist a means. Search engines- and here’s the bullet you’ve been waiting for, have moved to being more humanistic and more social facing than ever.. They’re now beginning to understand the psychology behind people that’s been a part of us long before internet was ever conceived.. We now have social media which plays a big part in the search results we experience today, and in many ways social media has been the catalyst to adding that next dimension to the search dynamic.. And what’s beautiful about social media is that it’s pretty hard to fake.. or game as I’ve kept referring to it, meaning that essentially we’ve all got a ground floor opportunity to work the search engines to our favour just by being a digital Fonz and working on building those social networks for our business profiles that are alive with content, information, interaction, and ENGAGEMENT. SEO done right today is about quality, time spent building networks, publishing content, and sharing value. Keyword there is

In its simplest, simplest, kindergarten calibre explanation- SEO today is about consistent and valuable investments of time.. Not simply cash for SEO consultants to flip a magic switch. SEO right now is about content creators, information providers, and educators who provoke sharing by adding value. I see this as being a lesson on SEO that has good staying power.. Why? Because it’d have to be clear to see that search engines surely can’t go backwards from where they are now. They can’t devolve into a superficial machine of information again- they can only but continue to move forward by furthering their development of providing the world answers by continuing the quest thats already begun through understanding people at a far deeper core level..

Now yes.. before those of you who know more than I on this matter start firing shots at me.. YES there’s a bit more to it than that.. Linking is important, but not to the extent that it once was where you could pay a Middle Eastern kid $3.50 to spam a stupid message with a link to your site out to a billion blogs. YES keywords actually are still really important but to a different emphasis now than they used to be- an emphasis thats more about phrasing and a search engines ability to anticipate the intent behind your query, not necessarily serving you based on a word by word question- I think you can thank Facebook’s newishly released ‘Graph Search’ for inspiring a lot of that smarter search engine stuff we’re now experiencing. The manual to search engines is a deep and confusing one with more rabbit holes than I will go down in this blog. But I think I’ve proved a point on how you can approach the present and future of search engines for your benefit.

I should wrap up this blog which has since become more an article that’s fast segueing into an eBook worthy volume of content- far more than I meant to write..

Approach your online marketing with a hat of logic and vision upon you. Ask yourself- what’s my business about? How fast do I need traffic, in what volume, and what’s goal. Based on those answers then you’ll have a clearer image of your online marketing needs. If you want to build- not just get authority on the internet for your industry then SEO is going to play a big part for you. You’ll need content- a lot of it.. that’s well shared, engaged with, appreciated, and consistently published and distributed online over a course of time. If you simply have a message and it ties to a product and you just want sales and the value of that item is low enough that you don’t need a relationship with people for that, then invest in online ads- They are quick, usually economic when you do them right and the ROI can be spectacular if you’ve covered your bases. If you’ve got that last one but the product or service is of higher value then invest in both SEO and online ads.. Build authority, build a list, cultivate that list, add value, and make sales with a long term strategy in mind.

This is how my team and I have built up our organic traffic over the past few years, and I figured it would be valuable resource for my community. But if you have some SEO tricks or tips that have worked for you, please share them in the comments so we can all benefit from them! Thanks. 🙂

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