<SEO (good SEO) is not always just about rankings any more. Maybe that's not SEO in the true sense of the acronymn, but it does appear that SEOs or SEMs or whatever they're called now are moving more in the direction of being Website consultants, in general.
Certainly, SEO should never be done in a vacuum, which is the way the spammers of yore did it.>
Well, as you can see I'm a new user of this forum. I've been wandering around a bit, trying out different places.
I was thinking about this issue on another fourm, where it didn't go down too well.
My take on it is that we have to think as a human would rather than as a SE would nowadays (sorry,I'm getting tired). In the old days stuffing keywords into the Keyword tag was enough, but as SE's get more sophisticated they're going to approach human levels of 'perception'. (I know, I know - I am getting tired)
My interest in this was aroused by the fact that the first link in my navigation bar seemed to get twice as much traffic as the second link. I guessed that it was becasue to a SE it was more important, since to a human it's more important. It might not be - but it set me thinking. I started wondering how SEs are going to perceive things in future.
I can see a day when TITLE tags are pretty meaningless, and when Page Rank (I optimise my site for Google) is much less imprtant.
Here's my blue-sky thinking - creativity doesn't go down too well in forums usually because it's seen as 'weird':
Different people think in different ways - a logical mind will percieve differently from a 'creative' mind. So a logical mind would best be served with search results that are tightly related, perhaps.
A creative mind might be served best with results that are more diverse.
Someone who doesn't know what they want could be served with even more diverse results.
How? An analysis of the search terms used. Maybe an online 'test' that indicates the particular mind of the searcher - stored as a cookie.
What's this got to do with usability etc.? This sort of thinking stretches the boundaries. Now when I optimise my site, thinking in terms of long term optimisation, stuff like TITLES etc. seems pretty lame. TITLES work - for the moment. But long term I need to be looking at other stuff. Simple concepts, like synonyms and antonyms - they'll be more relevant - theming for the individual page, if you like. Stuff like DIV tags being used to present your text ahead of the nav bar to the search engine - the SE s will be able to work that out, and though they might not call it spam, they'll know it's not the page the user sees. Navigation - if page rank goes down in importance ( and it's not THAT important as it is) will traditional web-linking , usability, being able to hop around from a to b or c, indicate a site that the USER will appreciate, therefore gain more importance?
To me, SEO is becoming an overview of the whole experience. There are so many factors tied in to it. High rankings, fine - but for which type of surfers? People who're going to skip merrily through, or people who WANT your site? And when you've got your target audience reading about your site in the SERP, are they interested enough to 'come on down'? Get them to your site, and does the page they've visited grab them enough to make them want to continue?
All that is part of the SEO job, I think. Which is far more than simple rankings.
And yes, I'm setting up on my own as a SEO as it interests me.
Hope I haven't blown my chance of returning to these forums with my head held up high