Search engine optimization – 21st Century Public Relations

I don’t know what search engine optimization is.

That probably seems like an unusual statement for someone who has made his living doing SEO since 1999.

I think it’s that history that makes me less clear in being able to arrive at a definition of what search engine optimization is.

Wouldn’t you say search engine optimization would include:

  • Online video
  • Online images
  • Sharing PowerPoint presentations
  • Guest blogging
  • Tweeting
  • Facebook page updating

Those are all things that impact results at Google, Bing and Yahoo. Those are the obvious ones.

But then I have to ask myself, “What is a search engine?”

Sure. Google, Bing and Yahoo are definitely search engines. But shouldn’t a search engine be anything that has a search bar?

It’s fairly common knowledge now that Youtube is the second most used search engine. This then asks the question, “What isn’t a search engine?”

  • Facebook is a search engine.
  • LinkedIn is a search engine.
  • Pinterest is a search engine.
  • Twitter is definitely a search engine.
  • Google Play is a search engine.
  • iPhone App Store is a search engine.

This all goes on and on. Where does search engine optimization end?

There is a part of me that thinks it ends by no longer calling it search engine optimization.

Look at this Google Trends report:

The phrase “search engine optimization” appears to be a dying phrase.

I’m not the only one confused by the term. I think it’s slowly but surely dying simply because nobody knows what the hell they mean when they say “SEO”.

Quite honestly, I’m ready for the phrase to go away. It has often been tainted by people who are less than ethical.

What we are talking about here is Public Relations.

A site that does well in a search engine does well because it is noteworthy. It offers something of value or interest. People like going to the site because it has something unique to offer.

Public relations has always been about that.

PR people figure out what is unique and special about you and then they tell it to the world.

That’s what search engine optimization was always meant to be. But instead, most people obsessed about the algorithm and how they could game it.

I believe those days are coming to an end for most people. There will probably always be a place for spammers. But it’s going to get harder and harder. Eventually they probably are going to just give up. I know not a few spammers that have gone on to get jobs in agencies and companies doing legitimate SEO. Spamming is too volatile to make a steady living.

SEO. Search engine optimization after these most recent updates at Google is going to look a lot more like what good public relations has always looked like.

If you want to rank well for a set of particular phrases across a wide variety of sites you have to be great. That’s the secret. Be great and you’ll be rewarded.

Yesterday, I had an inspiring lunch with Marketing & Motivational Speaker, Katherine Miracle. Her specialization is “Internal marketing”. She helps companies get to the heart of their marketing problems: Things like customer service and good leadership.

Marketing starts from within. Marketing is not just pretty pictures and words. It’s your very culture.

This is becoming more true with user generated reviews. Your flaws are being exposed by your customers. They will tell the truth. Your customers become your marketing agency of record.

A poorly run company will easily be exposed today.

So, if we now have “Internal marketers” like Katherine Miracle where marketing is about who you are at your core, what does that mean for search engine optimzation?

Doesn’t it follow that search engine optimization is:

  • Your leadership
  • Your values
  • Your quality services and products

Search engine optimization isn’t just about how many times you write a word on a page. It’s how good of a company you are.

SEO is 21st century public relations. And 21st century public relations is who you are as citizens in your community. Are you good people? That’s where it all starts.

And so maybe now you can see why I’m so unsure about where search engine optimization begins and ends. I think it begins with your true ethics. That’s what it all comes down to.

Are you trying to add value to the world with your company? Or are you just trying to get rich?

Your answer to that question will determine how well you will do in 21st century public relations.

Which reminds me: 

Please don’t forget about Digital Akron this month. It is Thursday, May 31st from 4:00-5:30 pm at 15 Broad St. in Akron Ohio.

It’s all about this very topic: Public Relations in the 21st Century. It’s going to be really fun and interesting.

You can learn more and register for free here. 

Most recent posts by Sage Lewis

1 comments