SEO and marketing

There is a considerable sized body of practitioners of SEO who see search engines as just another visitor to a site, and try to make the site as accessible to those visitors as to any other who would come to the pages. They often see the white hat/black hat dichotomy mentioned above as a false dilemma. The focus of their work is not primarily to rank the highest for certain terms in search engines, but rather to help site owners fulfill the business objectives of their sites. Indeed, ranking well for a few terms among the many possibilities does not guarantee more sales. A successful Internet marketing campaign may drive organic search results to pages, but it also may involve the use of paid advertising on search engines and other pages, building high quality web pages to engage and persuade, addressing technical issues that may keep search engines from crawling and indexing those sites, setting up analytics programs to enable site owners to measure their successes, and making sites accessible and usable.

SEOs may work in-house for an organization, or as consultants, and search engine optimization may be only part of their daily functions. Often their education of how search engines function comes from interacting and discussing the topics on forums, through blogs, at popular conferences and seminars, and by experimentation on their own sites. There are few college courses that cover online marketing from an ecommerce perspective that can keep up with the changes that the web sees on a daily basis.

SEO, as a marketing strategy, can often generate a good return. However, as the search engines are not paid for the traffic they send from organic search, the algorithms used can and do change, there are no guarantees of success, either in the short or long term. Due to this lack of guarantees and certainty, SEO is often compared to traditional Public Relations (PR), with PPC advertising closer to traditional advertising. Increased visitors is analogous to increased foot traffic in retail advertising. Increased traffic may be detrimental to success if the site is not prepared to handle the traffic or visitors are generally dissatisfied with what they find. In either case increased traffic does not guarantee increased sales or success.

While endeavoring to meet the guidelines posted by search engines can help build a solid foundation for success on the web, such efforts are only a start. SEO is potentially more effective when combined with a larger marketing campaign strategy. Despite SEO potential to respond to the latest changes in market trends, SEO alone is reactively following market trends instead of pro-actively leading market trends. Many see search engine marketing as a larger umbrella under which search engine optimization fits, but it’s possible that many who focused primarily on SEO in the past are incorporating more and more marketing ideas into their efforts, including public relations strategy and implementation, online display media buying, web site transition SEO, web trends data analysis, HTML E-mail campaigns, and business blog consulting making SEO firms more like an ad agency.

In addition, whilst SEO can be considered a marketing tactic unto itself, it’s often considered (in the view of industry experts) to be a single part of a greater whole.Marketing through other methods, such as viral, pay-per-click, new media marketing and other related means is by no means irrelevant, and indeed, can be crucial to maintaining a strong search engine rank. The part of SEO that simply insures content relevancy and attracts inbound link activity may be enhanced through broad target marketing methods such as print, broadcast and out-of-home advertising as well.

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