For me, its NOT about the SEO

You know what’s amazing?  Discovering and Implementing on the low-hanging-fruit. I can change a few title tags, rewrite a few URLs, move around some pages. This could rank someone higher, bring more traffic, bring more business, put more well earning money in their pocket and put food on their plate.

Yes, I can make a few changes on a computer, and keep food on someone’s plate. I know this is perhaps a way over simplified and glorified example of what it is we do. I don’t mean to downplay the immense skill and effort behind SEO. Most often, A LOT of work leads up to those changes on a website.

If anything I want SEO to be seen as a highly reputable profession, which takes skill and time and patience and ethics and creativity. But amidst the complexity, its simple. Its simple to me WHY I do SEO. To keep people employed, save that small mom and pop business from failing. I’m not saying how we do it is easy, but WHY we do it is simple.

If we as SEOs do our jobs well, we can help the lives of others in a lasting and positive way. So is SEO about metrics and traffic and rankings? So what does this mean?

What is SEO really about?


SEO Is Humanity

If being alive is about helping others, making the world better, inspiring commerce, the sharing of ideas – than SEO is simply today’s manifestation of what it means to be alive. For Michelangelo, was his art about the paint, or the stone, the chisel – the TOOLS? No! It was about what he could manifest with those things! He manifested humanity, beauty, and emotion. Just like painting or sculpture, SEO is art and science.


SEO Is About What It Can DO For People

Is SEO about Mac vs PC, or Xenu vs Screaming Frog, or white vs black, or follow vs no-follow? No! (Great to know what that stuff means). But the SEO is about what it can DO for people. Can you help give a voice to a business that is doing remarkable things? Can you save a failing business? Can you inspire the creation of fantastic and beautiful content? Can you help put a meal on someone’s plate with SEO? That’s what its about. What are the REAL results of SEO. More traffic to a website or more happiness in someone’s life? SEO can help save a business, or it can help others find their purpose. It can promote helpful and beautiful content on the web. I’m not saying SEO can just be thought of as a quick fix band-aid. But it CAN help to do these things, and its more the type of end-result reason WHY SEO is so important than just “increasing traffic”.


Its About the Process

Its not necessarily about the best seo techniques. Its about what leads to those techniques in the first place. The searching, the discovery, the creativity, the belief that there’s a better way to do things. You can teach someone the end result of that search, but its harder to teach someone HOW to search and create and to fit pieces of the puzzle together. But THIS is what SEO is about.


The SEO Industry Can Drive Commerce

It about what the industry can do. The industry can drive the economy when times are tough. SEO can bring people together who might not have ever met. SEO can form a connection between two complete strangers. SEO can unite people with a common purpose. Was it about gravity for Newton, or was it about Humanity? Where we come from, where we’re going, why we’re here, and what our purpose might be while we’re alive. Was it about the speed of light for Einstein, or was it about what it means to us as humans that something can travel so fast that it transcends time?


SEO Is Helping and Educating

Much of the Spirit of SEO is that of helping others, sharing and educating. Its about saving someone from using this bad and unethical SEO company. It about taking what we know and learn everyday, and bringing it to the public and sharing. Its about taking my 10+ years of experience as a teacher, and using my skills of explaining complex ideas in a simple way, to help a business owner understand the good and bad of SEO. Helping them understand why its important, how it can help, and why trusting your web designer with your SEO is likely a bad idea.


For Me, SEO Is a Skill I Don’t Stink At

However, SEO is just a skill, that I happen to love doing and am better at than most things. I suck at accounting, carpentry, cooking, chemistry, medicine, law, sports, dance, art. You do NOT want me to help with your taxes, cook you dinner or see me in a tutu. But SEO?! The only activity I feel more at home with is making music. I can uplift your spirit with an analog synth solo, and I can help your business with the power of SEO. There’s a LOT of stuff I’m bad it. But luckily for me, there exists this certain thing today called “SEO”, in which there as a need. There is a need today in our world, for people who can help businesses. Its really helping businesses become better. Better at knowing why they exist. And better at knowing how to explain why they exist to people. Better at sharing what they do in fun, helpful and engaging ways. Better at having a voice. You HAVE to deliver an amazing product/service to survive for the long term.

Its not about SEO, the keyword research or the link building or the content-creation or the site audits.

Its about what those things can DO for people:

It can keep a company open

It can keep people employed

Keep commerce moving

It can promote education about the internet

It can help other businesses that stand for something and deliver a great product

It can protect people from some of the most outdated and bad SEO advice I’ve ever heard

Put food on someone’s plate and make someone’s life better.

….THAT’S what SEO is about, and that’s why I, do SEO.

That’s what keeps ME fired up about SEO. If I wake up and I’m not making someone’s life better, if I’m doing SEO for the paycheck or recognition, than its time to question my motives and remember why I got into SEO in the first place.


What About You?

What keeps you inspired, what keeps you motivated, why do YOU do SEO? Leave your comments below!

About Dan Shure

Hi! I'm Dan Shure. I write all of the posts and host all of the podcast episodes you'll find on the Evolving SEO blog. Say hello on Twitter @dan_shure!


  • November 21, 2011 Reply

    Trevor McKendrick

    Hi Dan,

    I’ve always felt strongly about the ability of SEO to empower and *save* mom and pop shops, but had never read such a powerful, moving explanation of that thought process.

    There are so many wonderful businesses that create great businesses, help their customers, and, as you said, put food on the table. Of course there are many other customers who would love their product, but whom the company has not yet found.

    Such is the glory and power of the Internet and SEO. Helping the layman compete successfully against the rest of the world, provide for their family, and sleep well at night knowing they helped their customers.

    Thank you Dan for the inspiring post.

    Trevor McKendrick

    • November 21, 2011 Reply

      Dan Shure


      Thanks so much for the kind words, really appreciate it. I almost think the title could also read: “SEO: Its not about me”. Just like (to draw another comparison to performing music) whenever the performing musician thinks what they’re doing is “about them” (and not the audience or honoring the music its self) you’ve forgotten the real reason you’re performing to begin with.


  • November 23, 2011 Reply

    Ted Ives

    You could almost search and replace “SEO” with “Marketing” in your posting and it would still fit well – I totally agree with what you’re saying here. I think it’s ultimately about helping clients solve their customers problems, by making it easy for their customers to discover them. Marketing is kind of like the graphite on a Pinewood Derby car’s axle, it reduces friction so commerce can happen – a win/win for everyone.

    • November 23, 2011 Reply

      Dan Shure

      Thanks Ted! Yes, certainly can apply to marketing in general. Love the analogy!

  • December 2, 2011 Reply


    Hi Dan,

    Hope all is well.

    Yes, SEO is the bread and butter of any online business. It is much overlooked and very necessary.

    Another problem online businesses have is that they think they can do SEO on their own. This may be true for some, but the reality is that it’s a skill.

    It really take s a true professional to incorporate everything that is necessary to grow a website’s audience.

    Thanks for sharing, Dan!

    • December 2, 2011 Reply

      Dan Shure

      Hey Vic

      Thanks, and yes people are slowly coming around to the idea that SEO takes skill and is also very necessary. With any new profession, especially one that changes so rapidly there’s going to be a bit of an “identity crisis” while the field grows and matures. What’s encouraging is just this week I had three great conversations with people looking for SEO that seem to “get it” – they understand its needed and legit work that brings results. Hopefully things continue to move in this direction!


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