What Does SEO Actually Stand For Today?

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Author Image - Dan Step

By Dan Step

Dan is a Business Development Representative working with and alongside SME'S, schools and multi national corporations. Dan also works as a public speaker to help schools and charities find funding that is available at corporate and conference events.

At the end of April, I finished my sixth month at Leighton.  Half a year.  It has completely and utterly flown by, and my time here has been filled with some great moments already.

As with everyone at Leighton, I had a review meeting at the six month mark, and one of the main things that came out was that my title of 'SEO Specialist' doesn't really do my role justice.  The more time has passed, the more it has seemed to both unnecessarily pigeonhole me, and potentially confuse clients when I was involved in projects that weren't directly SEO related.

I was the SEO guy.  I wasn't involved in marketing or PR.  I didn't need to be asked about UX or social media.  E-mail content wasn't on my agenda, so there was no need to discuss it with me.

However, I was - and am - involved in all of these areas.  And many more.  As anyone within the SEO industry will tell you, you're pretty much involved in all areas of a website or digital presence, as SEO has an impact on the vast majority of aspects.

What's interesting, however, is it isn't this involvement that can cause confusion - it's the word 'SEO' itself.

Digital developments

Originally standing for 'Search Engine Optimisation', the acronym SEO has in many ways become a word of its own, as the whole process of it is much more than optimising a website for the search engines (so to ultimately see increased ranking positions).

Today, SEO is about creating an entire digital presence that's as beneficial for the users as it can possibly be.  It's not just about building backlinks from other websites to simply get a keyword-heavy link or ensuring you have unique copy on each of your site's pages.  It's about understanding what the end user wants and working backwards to ensure that as soon as they're on the internet, they'll be able to find it - from your company.

So where does this leave the term 'SEO'?

In many ways, it's redundant.  It doesn't do the whole process justice anymore.  For me, SEO in the traditional sense doesn't actually exist today and the components within a SEO strategy are now encompassed under the wider digital marketing umbrella.

As Lyle touched upon in his recent blog post on digital transformation, organisations need to be investing in their entire digital presence if they want to see success, rather than just one part of it.  They need to be looking at their website, social media, e-mail marketing, content production et al not as separate components, but as necessary aspects in a wider, all encompassing strategy.

And for some, this strategy will be called SEO.  For others it will be digital marketing.  Whatever it is titled, however, the focus must always be on the user.  Understand what they want and deliver it in the most effective and efficient way possible, taking into account not just every platform they'll be engaging with, but the smaller components within each of these channels.

As I mentioned in my first post on the Leighton blog, SEO - or digital marketing - is about creating solid foundations and building upon them.  Like a house, a strategy is made up of hundreds of bricks and is never complete.  You're always building, tweaking and developing, all with the goal of truly satisfying the end user.

And if you're interested, my title has changed from 'SEO Specialist' to 'Digital Engagement Strategist' - much more reflective of not just the work I do, but what 'SEO' is today in my eyes.