Firstly, if you’re interested in the Web Design industry and you’ve never heard of Paul Boag, or the Boagworld Podcast, you don’t know what you’re missing!   Paul’s weekly podcast with Marcus Lillington is both highly amusing and educational at the same time!

Today Paul posted a new article entitled : “Why I don’t get SEO”

Before reading my response – I suggest you head here first to read his article.

So, here’s my reply:

1) A continual investment

Yes, I’d agree that there are aspects to SEO which require continual investment, though I see this as no different to a marketing campaign.   There are also long lasting benefits though:

Site structure – An SEO project can include aspects of usability, such as menu structures and internal site linking.   Using Analytics as a way of tracking the results – these types of changes can produce verifiable improvements to both site visits and conversions

Changes to title tags can improve the readability of a sites entries in the search engine results – again a long lasting improvement.

2) You’re manipulating the system

I agree that black-hat SEO is manipulation, however I don’t see this as a form of SEO – more a form of hacking.    However, the examples above of site structure, title tags etc are more a form of usability improvements with a marketing emphasis.

3) It can damage the user experience.

Again – Yes, I agree that the black hat form of SEO (if it really can be included under SEO) leads to poor content for the users.   However SEO done properly can actually improve the user experience (see above).

4) It’s a passive form of marketing

Can’t fault you here Paul – yes SEO will not necessarily bring traffic from people who aren’t already looking for your product/services.   However it will increase the targeted traffic from those who are, but may have otherwise gone to a competitors site.

5) It carries no weight

This is where I believe SEO is taking it’s next major step – moving into the Social Networking world.    This relatively new aspect of SEO is more a merging SEO with traditional PR and Marketing .

However an existing part of SEO is link building, which is effectively a way of building personal recommendations (unless done with a black hat approach).

So there we go.   I agree with a lot of what Paul says, however I think the bad feelings towards SEO as a valuable service stem from the underhand techniques of the black hatters.    SEO should be a way of improving structure and content for both the user and the search engines, to provide a better service to the customer.   I also believe SEO now more than ever is a form of PR and Marketing (including Social) with a technical perspective.