The problem is that search engine optimization – along with much of all online marketing – has become equated with spam.
Spam in traditional advertising is nothing new. Junk mail. Telemarketers. Billboards. You name it, companies are always trying to shove themselves in our face, and humanity is forever resenting it and gobbling it all up at the same time. In the long run, as much as we hate to admit it, we’re sold. Even the too-cool-for-you brands with the chip on their shoulder – they’re still gaming us just as much as Clairol Herbal Essences is.
The same thing goes for online marketing. It can be meaningful, it can win you over, or it can really suck. I detest MFA (Made For AdSense) sites, I abhor email spam, and I resent landing pages (either organic or paid) that have such a poor user experience that I trip over my keyboard trying to hit the back button.
But I like a well-optimized site. And if a page is able to position well in SERPs, providing quality relevant content that leads me that much closer to what I’m searching for, then I’m one happy user. And I can guarantee you that there’s one satisfied business owner behind that site as well.
So is all SEO spam? Of course not, but a lot of the confusion also seems to be a direct result of the fact that no one can agree on what SEO really is.
Even Jason Calcanis says that there are some companies who do “white hat” SEO, but he doesn’t consider that SEO at all because what they’re really doing is “solid web design”.
Our Oneupweb glossary provides a thorough definition of search engine optimization.
I personally would like to add to that by saying that to us here at Oneupweb, SEO means helping you connect with the people who are searching for you online – not forcing yourself in front of those who aren’t. It means enriching a site with quality content and facilitating a design that is accessible to search engine web crawlers as well as users (you’ll find that the two practically go hand-in-hand).
That’s the difference between a mountain vista and a billboard, and that’s the difference between SEO and spam.