There seems to be a lot of confusion in the minds of many webmasters, both new and experienced, about what SEO actually is and what tasks it is useful to spend time on. You see forum questions asking ‘should I worry about code validity’ (I’ll return to that one in another posting soon), ‘should I put in a better shopping cart system?’, ‘should I worry about Firefox/Macs/disabled people?’. You soon get the impression that these webmasters aren’t looking at their web sites with any sort of rounded view.
A web site isn’t there just to get rankings, just to get traffic, just to sell stuff to IE users. You have to look at it as a whole – how do the various parts fit together to attract users, attract genuine links, satisfy the demand for the product, service or information you provide, abide by the law, allow search engines easy access, and a dozen other areas.
It’s not just that SEO and usability go together – everything about a web site should be optimised to make visiting it a quality experience. Navigation should assist users to find what they want. Content should be laid out and structured to be easily scanned while providing maximum information. Images should be sensibly sized and add to the information rather than just acting as generic filler. If you’re selling something then it should be possible to order it with the minimum of fuss and with as many payment options as possible.
There are no shortcuts to quality. Think total web site optimisation and you won’t go far wrong.
To me that’s what true SEO means, but the terminology in our industry is so fluid that it can be taken to mean just about anything and many people see it in much narrower terms. If you’re hiring an SEO company then find out beforehand what they think it means and define how wide their remit should be.