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Google Defines Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Posted on May 5, 2008 by Tim

This week, "The Official Google Analytics Blog" posted an article dedicated to website optimization.  The article, authored by Laura Melahn from the Google Analytics Team and Jon Stona from the Website Optimizer Team, focuses on optimizing websites for conversion utilizing Google Website Optimizer and Google Analytics.

Early on in the post, the authors clarify the difference between website optimization and search-engine optimization by defining both terms.  In this clarification, Google defines search engine optimization as the following:

 

  • Search-engine optimization means adjusting the content of your site so it ranks higher in the list of search results for a particular keyword or keyword phrase.

 

 

optimizing websites for conversion utilizing Google Website Optimizer and Google Analytics

Now, it's no epiphany that Google's definition of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) focuses heavily on site content, since the user experience exiting Google is at the top of their priority list.  However, the noticeably absent elements of raw link juice, anchor text weight and domain authority is interesting.  In general, when site owners think about Search Engine Optimization, as Google mentions, their primary objective is to be sure that their site "ranks higher in the list of search results for a particular keyword or keyword phrase".  However, for the most part, the term Search Engine Optimization is utilized in association with this goal, namely ranking higher, versus in association to an attribute that contributes to this goal, such as adjusting content.  This goal can be reached by improving a healthy amount of arenas, only one of which is site content.  Although Google's definition is likely accurate from a historical perspective, if Search Engine Optimization has become more synonymous with ranking higher than with adjusting content, and ranking higher is influenced by a slew factors, some of which arguably have more or less influence than content, maybe the definition of Search Engine Optimization should be something like the following:

 

  • Search-engine optimization means adjusting the content of doing things like W, X, Y, and  Z to your site so it ranks higher in the list of search results for a particular keyword or keyword phrase. 

 

Where W might be "adjusting content", X might be "building inbound links", Y might be "earning domain trust", Z might be "creating new content" and so forth.

This definition focuses on the goal and includes some of the attributes that contribute toward reaching that goal.  This approach would certainly align with industry practice.  Companies that provide Search Engine Optimization services typically provide a laundry list of ways for you to spend money.  Many firms who tout themselves as Search Engine Optimization companies provide a slew of services, including "adjusting the content of your site".  However, few firms run around touting themselves as, say,  a Link Building company, and provide search engine optimization (content adjustment) services as well.

Maybe it's just semantics...

 

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