The other day I came across a great article on Search Engine Watch. Truth be told, I happened to see the article on Jim’s screen and the headline caught my attention. At any rate, I found it to be right on point and it supports a little phrase I’ve enjoyed using the last couple of months – SEO has become both bigger and smaller at the same time. Let me explain.

SEO used to be all about tactics. SEOs could crawl into a corner, build links, create a solid foundation for a site, keyword stuff body copy and headlines, then sit back and watch their SERP position increase. There are, in fact, many agencies still doing this. SEO was very tactically driven with little strategy actually required. SEO could effectively be done inside of a silo.

In order to understand how SEO has become smaller, we need to take a step back and look at the reason behind SEO – to attract and drive traffic to our website. If that is the reason for SEO, then our traditional SEO tactics have become a much smaller part of a broader digital marketing effort. Remember the days when you used to hop online, type in your query and click on the first search result? People use social media sites now more than search engines. To attract and drive traffic to our sites, we need to do that in places outside of Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. Today we need to have a strong strategy that ties together a whole host of things like, a solid site foundation, keyword research, content creation – onsite and off, content distribution, influencer outreach, email marketing, PR, and user experience. On top of that, everything needs to be suitable for all of the many gadgets we use to interact online.

To understand how SEO has become bigger, we need to just remember what SEO stands for – Search Engine Optimization. To optimize our site for search engines, we have to do more than just build links and create a solid infrastructure. We have to create excellent user experiences across multiple devices; we have to create compelling, sharable content; we have to get that content into the hands of the right people so that it will be actually be shared – creating those valuable links to our site; we need to have social profiles on Google+; we have to monitor our reputation and earn reviews and recommendations from our customers. All of these things must be done now to rank well for certain terms and phrases.

Clear as a Bell Summary

SEO has become smaller part of a larger digital marketing initiative. It’s no longer good enough to build a solid infrastructure and get a bunch of links on low-quality sites. We have to take all the things we used to do under the “SEO” banner and augment them with strong content, social distribution, and digital PR to rank highly on the search engines. That’s the New SEO. It’s both bigger and smaller than ever before! What are your thoughts?