What is SEO?

What is SEO trying to do?

I was asked recently in a RFI: ‘Out of platform, technical and authority, which one has the most impact?’. Not an unreasonable question but one that to my mind, misunderstands what SEO is.

My initial thought was “Well, it depends”. I made the point if anyone of those things is really out of balance then that’s the one that matters for that site, at that time.

Back in the 2000’s my flatmate worked at Snow and Rock and used to bring back loads of mountain bike magazines, an article where a mountain bike journalist raced the current world downhill champion really stuck with me.

What was interesting wasn’t that the interviewer lost (which he did by a substantial margin), but his reasoning as to why he lost.

Why he thought he lost

There wasn’t one thing that the champion was much, much better at. He was slightly better at everything:

  • Better line going into corners,
  • Better at keeping pedalling (apparently he never stopped),
  • Lower on the jumps,
  • and a ton of other technical things that I’ve forgotten.
  • Over the course of the race, the cumulative effect of all the small margins meant that he won 20 seconds.

Why this matters.

When I read this I didn’t do SEO (it was over 15 yrs ago), but it stuck with me. I think this was because it was such a clear demonstration that no matter what you are doing there isn’t a big shiny button that will make you better than everyone else: there isn’t one thing that you can practice that will mean you win.

You need to optimise everything.

The RFI made me think I was being obtuse and deliberately vague, but I answered “It depends on the site”, because in most cases, it really does.

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