"As an (SEO), you play the most crucial role in the band. Everyone in the group depends on your subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) lead. If the guitarist or saxophonist makes a mistake, hardly anyone will notice, but if the (SEO) makes a mistake, everyone in the band and the audience will instantly know that something is wrong." (Loosely adapted from Bass Guitar for Dummies).

Many potential clients are scared by the search engine optimization process. They feel that to achieve top search engine rankings, they must cede control of their site to the SEO who might run roughshod over its look, feel, and messaging. SEO / Client relationships need not be so contentious. Ideally, the SEO leads the optimization effort but, like an effective bass player, the SEO work product should blend into the background of the site and be apparent only to those experienced enough to see the distinctive footprint.

When I do SEO for a client, I make a conscious effort to enhance the messaging without altering it significantly. When I show the client the first draft of my work, I invite them to make changes to it if rewording my work makes for better copy. While I encourage their feedback, I also guide them so that when they make textual changes, they aren't negatively impacting the SEO. By inviting the client to become part of the process, they are more invested in the project's outcome and are extra-satisfied when they see the bottom-line impact of SEO on their business.

"You're responsible for linking the harmony (content) of a website with a distinctive rhythm (theme)."

SEO isn't just about optimizing individual website pages as if they were self-contained units. An SEO should determine the most relevant website "theme" (taking both client and market considerations into account) and make sure that the SEO effort stays focused on that theme / topic. Most websites with lots of disparate content will not achieve optimum results.

One of the earliest lessons learned from Google's Jagger Update is that a page on a well-themed, topically focused website should perform better in Google than the same page on a poorly themed site. The SEO can help achieve peak search engine performance for the site by narrowing its topical focus.

"As an (SEO), you need to have a very clear understanding of exactly how the rhythm relates to the beat. You need to know where to place the notes for the groove in relation to the beat. And you want to make your grooves memorable."

The role of SEO is one of filling the gaps between website intention and website performance. Typically, the website content creation process fails to take into account the broad searching parameters of the targeted audience. Once the SEO understands the intention of the client's messaging, he/she can combine keyword research, content optimization and link building to help push the client's message to a much wider audience, bringing the client increased visibility and attention.

By laying down the types of riffs that appeal to search engines, the SEO "bass line" allows the website to effectively "rock on" to increased sales.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
November 9, 2005

Todd Mintz is the Director of Internet Marketing & Information Systems for S.R. Clarke Inc., a Real Estate Development and Residential / Commercial Construction Executive Search / Recruiting Firm headquartered in Fairfax, VA with offices nationwide. He is also a Director & Founding Member of SEMpdx: Portland, Oregon's Search Engine Marketing Association.

Search Engine Guide > Todd Mintz > If Your Website Were A Rock Band, Your SEO Plays Bass