What is SEO?

One of my responsibilities as a corporate SEO is to explain what SEO is.  This is quite often to lay-men/women who have an genuine interest and occasionally whom have been told to have an interest!

SEO has become a mainstream topic in recent years inside big and small companies alike.  And since SEO is a broad topic and covers many strategic and tactical elements it can be a long and varied chat.

And since most conversations normally start with very specific questions straight into the bits of information they have read, heard, or departmental specific topics.  I unfortunately over-use the word “depends” or answer their question with a flurry of questions back to them to qualify their interest.  

This sometime makes SEO seem slightly impenetrable.  Which it isn’t really !

SEO is a hybrid discipline of marketing & technical.  SEOs need to be logical, mathematical, project managers, researchers, data miners, lateral thinkers, writers, a politician, people manager, problem solver and creative.  And to-date I have not met two SEOs who have the same background or specific SEO passion.

Generally the overlying objective is “to drive qualified traffic to site”.  This then normally breaks out as 


  • Traffic targets from search engines, &
  • Transactions / Actions.


SEO is made up of manly constituent parts.  And each piece is needed, as they all work together.  Hopefully this diagram shows the main areas in my opinion.

Adrian's 5 SEO categories



In addition to this all good SEOs must have market knowledge, understand competitors, the changing Search Scape, all with half an eye on the SEO crystal ball.  

SEO is also the catch all for any web related questions, topics from UGC to usability.  Who else is there normally to turn abstract ideas into pragmatic actionable business sounds plans.

There is no one-size-fits-all SEO strategy, all websites are unique and can have differing goals, objectives, infrastructure, strong perosonalities, legacy systems.  But to-date all ideas / topics / issues can fit into one of my 5 categories.

SEO is many things to many people! And some of it is about Optimising websites for Search Engines!

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