Public Relations and Search Engine Optimisation
Years ago, if you asked an SEO expert for advice on how to move your website up the Google ranks, they would probably stuff your site with keywords in the keyword and description meta tags, build a repertoire of inbound links from spammy sites and advise you on content changes that make your website look like a word cloud than anything remotely informative.
Obviously, no one would do that now (one might hope), but it was the most prominently understood way in which SEO worked and perhaps those origins are why it is misunderstood today.
When I first got involved with SEO, the extent of information out there overloaded my delicate mind and I cracked. I became bitter about it and about companies that promised page one rankings on Google. “Who are these 21st century merchants of snake oil?” I thought. In a way it was true: a lot of companies made these promises by situating themselves in a position where they were the expert and you were the dullard. It didn’t help that if you read some SEO experts’ blogs, they would express frustration at the notion that people didn’t think much of their sector.
As time wore on, however, and Google made advanced changes to its algorithm to the exclusion of any avenue where links may be considered spam and any opportunity where meta tag coding might be considered the same, a new type of SEO emerged. This type of SEO might be better described as online public relations.
Read any blog about SEO these days and you’ll likely come across a post like this one or this one or even this one, with its cleverly nuanced title. It reflects a trend towards public relations and online behaviour, and away from what are fast becoming anachronistic (relative to the internet age) practices.
SEO is about understanding and building a relationship with your audience. You can do that by researching the most popular keywords for your given subject or sector rather than assuming you know what they are. You can do it by creating interesting and relevant content that your visitors will share, the most obvious being a blog (hey, like this one!). You can do it by providing your audience a platform with which to interact with you and your business.