Tuesday, May 24, 2011

SEO Is Hard

Have you ever felt like the world of search engine optimization is an uninviting one, the domain of the techie who bathes daily in a deep pool of seemingly arcane rules inscrutable to just about anyone except his or her fellow techies? Well, guess what: That's kind of true.

Sorry. You might have thought the turn of phrase was going to be that SEO is actually easy to master. But it's not. Maybe you were hoping that a few easily understood secrets would be all you needed to succeed, or that you could just sort of fix your SEO once and then be on your merry way. None of this is the case. SEO is hard.

But this is changing, and it's because search engines are getting smarter. At first, that might seem counterintuitive: If a search engine is smarter, wouldn't the need grow for ever–technically savvier SEO practitioners? Not necessarily—the smarter the search engine becomes, the better able it is interpret, catalogue and rank content without the aid of cues in the computer script.

Academics now freely flout SEO techies' expertise and even see SEO as primarily the domain not of the techie, but of the public relations practitioner, with reputation management and a focus on written content poised to eclipse technical SEO tweaks in their ability to influence search engine rankings. That's probably a bit of hyperbole—maybe even some PR for the PR profession—but the perennial importance of good content (of all kinds), which transcends all but perhaps the most technical of professions, remains one of the biggest factors in SEO.

Sourcing and retaining a long-term partner to develop content of various kinds (e.g. video, audio, written, etc.) is perhaps the single most important move an organization can take to make SEO a fruitful endeavor over the long haul. After all the hard work of technical SEO is conducted, and even as efforts continue not only to evolve a keyword strategy, but also to manage relationships and thus score backlinks from respected sources, the writing, video production, and more still needs to happen—and even if your internal team is strong and your organization's horsepower robust, it might not.