Home Uncategorized WHAT IS SEO?



Before we begin, it is important to understand what SEO is. I define SEO as:

  • the business of getting found
  • the business of getting found online
  • all business activities that contribute to the goal of getting found online

I class the first point above as a slogan, the second one as a clarification of the slogan, with the third being the proper definition. Although the definition sounds rather simple, there are many common misconceptions about SEO. Let’s put an end to these misconceptions! We will do this by firstly discussing what SEO isn’t, then what it is, followed by the two most important things you should take away from this book.

What SEO Is Not!

1. SEO is not free traffic

SEO does not come for “free.” You need to invest time, money and resources! You must have a goal in mind – do you want more traffic/ users/ clients/ customers? To achieve this, you must do things differently. Very differently to how you would do things if SEO did not exist.

2. SEO is not PageRank

PageRank twas the original algorithm developed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the Google founders, to rank web pages according to their relevance. Their most important principles were:

  • pages with more inlinks (also known as backlinks) are more valuable than pages with fewer inlinks, and
  • links from pages with more inlinks are more valuable than links from pages with fewer inlinks.

That was in 1998 – that’s multiple lifetimes ago concerning the internet. Since then, the term has been used and misused in every possible way until it became an esoteric concept that can be used to prevent or encourage each and every action you see fit.

Want to do something? PageRank ™! Don’t want to do something? PageRank ™! Why? PageRank ™! PageRank ™ is thought-cancer and a frustrating distraction from our task at hand, so we will not use it. Just google [pagerank thought-cancer] if you want to hear more about it because I could really go on for hours.

Important Note: Whenever a term is within [square brackets], it is a user search query, so something you or any other user types (or sometimes speaks) into Google. It’s the same annotation that Google uses in their documentation. The square brackets symbolize the Google Search input field.

3. SEO is not a technology

The internet is a digital medium, and therefore everything on the internet is to some extent technology. However, SEO is not a technological challenge and cannot be “fixed” with technology alone.

4. SEO is not software

You can’t download SEO. While some content management systems (CMS), server software, website frameworks and shop systems are, from a technical point of view, more search engine optimized than others, let me make it very clear that you cannot download SEO.

5. SEO is not hardware

Although it is not hardware, SEO does have a hardware dependency. Let me explain: if your website is slow because your server is slow, then SEO is pointless. However, it is also important to note that even the best hardware will not make your site search engine optimized.

6. SEO is not rankings

With modern search engines, there is no consistent “No. 1” ranking in search engine results. Anyone who claims to deliver this is misleading. Users see different results for the same search terms, which vary based on factors such as their device, location, internet connection speed, individual search history,

serendipity and more. Your goal cannot be the mere ranking itself. Above the fold rankings (the ones that are visible on a web page without scrolling) are a side effect of successful SEO, but not a goal in their own right.

7. SEO is not a service

You cannot outsource SEO. You can outsource certain tasks, but SEO in its entirety is and always will be the responsibility of your business.

8 SEO is not a tool

Most third party (non-Google) SEO tools (especially all paid SEO tools) deliver more or less made up figures about SEO, so-called “magic numbers.” None of them will do SEO for you, and none of them will lead to SEO success without your effort. Most of the time you will make poor business decisions because of them. Don’t use them.

9. SEO is not a product You cannot buy SEO.

You cannot buy SEO.

10. SEO is not a solution

SEO is not the easy solution to wider business problems. If your product, service or anything you want to make money with is shit, then SEO will not save you.

What SEO is!

You will need to do things differently. You will invest time, money, brain share, development resources, content writing, marketing effort and more into this topic. You will need to implement new processes that will change how your company does business.

2. SEO is the business of getting found on the internet

Here’s the thing: if you don’t want to, you needn’t change a thing. But your business won’t be found as well as it could be on the internet. SEO is a choice! The choice is yours. It’s not the user’s choice, nor Google’s, nor is it the choice of an overpaid SEO agency or your competition, and it’s certainly not the choice of this book.

If you don’t care about getting found, then there is no need for SEO. It must make sense to you that your users find you. You must care about it. If you don’t have a product or don’t have a business goal, then create this first. Then, and only then, should you consider SEO.

SEO involves all business activities that contibute to the goal of getting found online.

3. SEO involves all business activities that contibute to the goal of getting found online

SEO acts within these areas:

  • development
  • marketing
  • content

You will find out more (much more) about them in the SEO setup chapter to come.

SEO is solved!

SEO, like anything that has value, is 5% know-how and 95% execution. What you need to do is clear. You “just” have to do it. In nearly all cases, SEO does not fail because of too little knowledge, but because of flawed or non-existent execution. Knowledge without execution is meaningless for businesses. Focus on execution!

5. SEO makes sense!

SEO makes sense, and everybody can and should understand it. So if you encounter something that claims it is “SEO”, but does not make sense, don’t do it. I use the term “sensemaking” in this book, so in other words, something has to be sensible, rational or logical.

6. SEO is a choice!

There are thousands of good and valid reasons not to do things the search engine optimized way. You can have the best, coolest, most awesome, perfect website without SEO! You can make all the right technical choices, you can create great content and have an effective marketing approach, but the result might not be search engine optimized in a way that leads to sustainable, sensemaking and growing traffic. Only a search engine optimized website is search engine optimized.

Key SEO Areas


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