The SEO Acronym Meaning"SEO Panda and Penguin"

How to give a proper search engine optimization definition…

The meaning of SEO, aka search engine optimization, is an interesting topic these days. In it’s simplest form, it’s the process of driving traffic to a website from a search engine results page.

You type a word or a phrase into the search box, hit the return key, and Wha-la! Your search engine of choice displays thousands and sometimes millions of results for you to choose from.

Those results are not just random either. They are tuned around your personal search behavior and preferences as well as where you are conducting your search from.

The search engine results page contains a variety of links to sites that could range from Wikipedia, to retail, to a local business, depending on the search term. Now more than ever they also often contain links to social media sources such as blogs and customer reviews.

To make it even more interesting, there’s the whole concept of Social Signals, which in a nutshell is your perceived level of online authority and influence. How it’s measured, whether or not it’s accurate, and if it should have an influence on SEO has sparked a lot of debate among search engine optimization and social media marketing professionals alike.

Mind boggling, isn’t it?

So let’s back up a minute – just what is search engine optimization and how is it different from social media marketing?

The goal of both SEO and SMM is to drive qualified traffic to your website and they are two distinctly different activities.

Search Engine Optimization

  • Driving traffic to websites from Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).
  • Optimizing a variety of variables such as content, website structure, as well as internal and external links (just to name a few) to increase the visibility and position on a search engine results page.

Social Media Marketing

  • Driving traffic to websites from Social Media Platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.
  • Generating and promoting content that provides and encourages readers to share it with their networks and drive traffic to your website.
  • Creating and exchanging user-generated-content (UCG) e.g. product reviews and comments.

So they have nothing to do with each other, right?

There are still people who believe that, but they’re missing the boat. The purpose of SEO and SMM is to increase the visibility of your website and to drive qualified traffic (or in other words, new customers) to your business.

It’s not enough to just have a website, it has to be found. It’s practically a guarantee that if you’re doing one but not the other, or worse yet neither, the only people finding your website are your existing customers and maybe Aunt Martha.

People can debate all they want, but the two have become intertwined, and that one little word “content” is why no one should be blindly executing a strategy that doesn’t take both into consideration. If not, the efforts are doomed to failure.

If the social media advocate is creating content that is low quality, contains links to poor quality sites, or isn’t optimized for the right keyword phrases, their SMM could be undoing an ongoing SEO effort.

Likewise, if the SEO efforts are done in a vacuum, and lack insight into what content is engaging the most readers in the social media platforms, they may be optimizing for the wrong things.

If the social media marketer is doing their job, they are listening at least as much if not more than they’re talking and are in tune with the problems customers are having. In turn they are generating and promoting content that answers questions and helps their readers solve problems. In order to do this, they need to understand how to create content that is optimized for search engines.

If the search engine optimizer is doing their job, they’re researching keywords that should be incorporated into the content and help increase visibility and drive traffic. I’m not sure how they can do a good job at this if they don’t know what questions customers are asking.

So, back to the original question once again–what is SEO?

SEO, explained simply, is still the process of optimizing web pages so they will be found on Google, but it’s also a lot more. It’s about integrating with the other internet marketing strategies such as social media marketing, content marketing, Pay Per Click (PPC), blogging, and website design.

It may sound overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you choose to take a workshop such as the ones offered by the Search Engine Academy, or pursue self study and on-line tutorials, just take a deep breath and dig in. Your business and your customers will thank you.

Were you surprised by the definition? Share your comments below.

Until next time.