Joel Klettke is a Search Engine Optimization specialist at Vovia. Joel's also an experienced writer and local marketing expert.

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7 Things That SEO Is Not

7There are a whole lot of misconceptions about search engine optimization (SEO). Perhaps the best way to explain SEO is by explaining what it isn’t!

A Vending Machine

SEO is not a process of paying search engines for great rankings. Search engines try to deliver the most relevant results, so nobody can just “buy” rankings. It is true that more competitive campaigns often require a greater investment. That money is used in creating great content, acquiring strong links, optimizing site structure and leveraging social bookmarking. But you can’t just pay to show up in the #1 spot.

Paid Advertising

Search engine optimization is not pay per click (PPC) advertising. PPC advertising involves paying to place advertisements in search engines (the ads are shown to the right and sometimes just above the search results) .SEO works to increase the “organic rankings” of your website – where you show up in search results. This doesn’t involve paying for classified ads, banner ads or otherwise. SEO takes longer to show results, but the results are typically more significant than PPC ads.

Blind Darts/Voodoo Magic

While search engine algorithms are kept secret, search engine results are not uncontrollable or random. Through testing and experimentation, SEO professionals are able to discover what works and what doesn’t. I learn more about my industry daily and the field is always changing, but getting great results is never a crap shoot.


An unfortunate misconception is that SEO involves spamming in order to get links or generate traffic. This idea is proliferated by the countless services offering to get you “1,000 backlinks” for $50. Spam tactics are widely used by inexperienced or unethical search engine optimizers, but this is not what search engines will ultimately reward in the long term.

A One-and-Done Solution

Any great athlete continues to train even after reaching the height of their sport. Likewise, search engine optimization isn’t a one-time solution. Competition is always growing and search engines are constantly evolving – Google alone made over 4,000 changes to their algorithm last year! Though it is easier to maintain top rankings once they’ve been achieved, a successful SEO campaign needs to be maintained over time.

Independent and Isolated

SEO should be intimately connected with your offline marketing. These offline efforts can have online benefits if managed properly, so keep your SEO team in the loop so that they can leverage offline marketing on the web!


I’ve read articles insisting that hiring a SEO company is a waste – that if you create great content the search engines are sure to reward you. This is equivalent of insisting that when building a car, as long as it has 4 tires and a steering wheel , you’re golden! The fact is that SEO requires expertise that takes time and effort to acquire. There are a lot of snake oil salesmen out there, but a legitimate search engine optimizer has spent thousands of hours studying up and keeping current with the latest developments.

So, What Is It?

I would answer that search engine optimization is a cross between an art and a science, adhering to a set of best practices while constantly analyzing new trends and changes, experimenting with new ideas and carefully studying and interpreting data. It’s a mix of business strategy, computer science and psychology – understanding how users search and how search engines evaluate websites.

Knowing what to expect is important when it comes to SEO so you can make an informed decision and go into your search engine optimization with realistic expectations. SEO is a long-term solution that takes time and effort, but when managed correctly, the payoff will be significant!