I do my fair share of web marketing reading on a daily basis and lately I have noticed more and more writers stating that search engine optimization (SEO) is no longer as important for online success. This spin may make sense to those writers (and their financial goals) as they try to push industry cash flow away from SEO but I disagree wholeheartedly and throughout this posting I will explain why. And I assure you that despite my own inherent bias it will all be very logical and undeniable.

Not As Important? No, SEO is FAR More Important than Ever Before!
Search engine optimization (SEO) “is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results” (src. Wikipedia). By this definition alone SEO is a requirement for any website that wishes to be successful within organic search results. This is especially true since the competition for online visibility is fiercer today; because previously uncompetitive terms have become over saturated with late-comers to the perceived ‘gold rush’ of Internet commerce. As a result, websites need the best optimization possible to have any hope of standing up to the competition.

Successful SEO has Evolved
As with any growing technology industry competent SEO companies have had to evolve their search engine optimization practices to include the latest tools that improve SEO results. For example, when a SEO campaign is conducted today StepForth Web Marketing Inc. has far more information to access and evaluate the success of a campaign with analytics sources like ClickTracks or Google Analytics. In addition, keyword research tools such as Keyword Discovery and WordTracker have revolutionized our capability to find qualified keyword targets and ultimately increase the effectiveness of campaigns. As a result, SEO campaigns can now be far more targeted and effective.

These invaluable new SEO tools aside, the search landscape has played a major role in the evolution of SEO as well. Nowadays SEO companies have been forced to adapt to new forms (formats) of search results and, as a result, less space now is made available in the traditional search engine result pages (SERPs). This is due to the inclusion of other forms of media (i.e. video, images) and personalization but the goal is still the same; targeted visibility leading to higher traffic volume.

The Revised Guide to SEO
With the addition of new tools and the search landscape constantly changing and evolving so much over the past 10 years the techniques of applying quality SEO has also followed suit, but the fundamentals remain the same. The addition of a SEO manual at this stage of my posting is not an option; however, I have provided a couple examples below. For a more diverse explanation please see The 10 Minute Search Engine Optimization which I updated a few months back with many of the best practices.

>> Example: Local Results
Over the past couple years Google has started showing differing search results to its users depending upon their locality; all a part of their bid to personalize search results to create a more effective search result. If the website to be optimized (i.e. www.victoriastuff.ca) would benefit from being found more readily by people searching from its locale then it is important to consider this when optimizing the website.

SEO Tip #1 for Local Rankings: Make certain that each page specifically includes in textual format, not as part of an image the complete address to the company’s physical offices. This information can be added to the footer; there is no need to make it front and center which could take away from other, (perhaps) more important content.

SEO Tip #2 for Local Rankings: It is as easy as pie and totally free to add your business to Google’s Local directory which will often provide you with a free top ranking if you do it right. Here is more information on getting your free Google Local listing.

>> Example: Blog Optimization
Over the past few years blogs have virtually become required for any business that needs to build online credibility and free incoming links (from those who reference posts). With this great new marketing tool, however, comes a set of best practices for optimizing a blog so that each post has a high chance of obtaining visibility. Indeed optimizing a blog is, in its nature, an evolution of SEO because optimizers have to consider how the content will perform on site as well as on other sites that may syndicate the content. Okay, optimizing content for syndication is not anything new but it definitely is far more common than ever before. Furthermore, SEOs now sit in an educational role more often than before because they have to teach the blog writers (who may be writing posts multiple times daily) how to optimize their content on the fly.

Again a complete tutorial on blog optimization and promotion is not practical at this point but here is a comprehensive three part tutorial on blogs; including setup, optimization and promotion suggestions.

Conclusion: Do You Have Doubts About the Importance of SEO?
So after all of that do you have any doubt that search engine optimization (SEO) is any less important than it was? Indeed, would you agree that SEO is more important than ever before due to the need to secure every advantage possible in a competitive marketplace? Either way I would love to hear your considerations in this regard.

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth Web Marketing Inc.
Celebrating 10 Years of Web Marketing Excellence