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Our Thoughts on "SEO Isn't What You Think It Is."

SEO & Social EngagementA recent post from Fast Company really resonated with us in terms of how we approach SEO and website development. Covering the Panda and Penguin updates by Google, the article discusses the SEO impact of a socially engaged brand.  It argues that a well-optimized website won’t stand on its own.

The post is well-summarized by the following quote: “So rather than asking yourself, ‘How do I optimize my website to better rank with search engines?’ ask, ‘How can I optimize my brand so that it's a sought-after participant in relevant conversations?’” Amen.  

The highlights with a little of our own commentary:

We agree that social media, blogging, and other content creation (done well) have an important impact on SEO. An optimized website on its own isn’t enough.
Social engagement gets others sharing and linking to your content organically and drives more traffic to your website. It also forces you to regularly publish fresh content rather than let your website sit stagnant.  Added perk? The benefits of social engagement reach well beyond SEO.  (Social engagement helps you build a sense of community, exchange timely feedback and information with your followers, and shape your reputation as an industry expert.)

You need to create content for people, not search engines.
(A good tip I’ve read -- rather than plugging your keywords into existing content, start from scratch and keep your keywords in mind as you create new content. It’s much more likely to have a natural flow to it. ) If you’re trying to rank high for keywords that are truly relevant to your target market, content that serves your customers well should also serve your rankings well.

These things said, optimizing your website is still an important part of the package, just not the be-all, end-all.
Search engines need to be able to easily crawl your site.  An experienced web development team knows what it takes to make this happen.

When we talk to clients about SEO, we emphasize there are no guarantees
Though you can engage in keyword research, optimize your site, and work your social media, there’s still the chance you won’t rank at the top or that your efforts will take a long time to pay off in terms of SEO.  But, if you’re working the process in a way that engages your brand in relevant conversations, you’re at least building something of value along the way.

What’s your opinion on the Fast Company post? A lot of disagreement was expressed in the comments on the original post. We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. 

And, stay tuned—we’ll be launching a blog series in the next week covering the checklists we use during our web design and development projects.