Often times clients come to us and say they want their website to be “search engine optimized”. The site in question may have a lot of flash elements or image based text or bad markup. Which usually prompts me to give my long-winded spiel about how they might want to make their site “search engine friendly” first. This almost always raises the question, aren’t they the same thing? No, making a site SEF is not the same thing as optimizing a site for search engine performance.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. SEO is typically a long-term task that normally involves an ongoing commitment or contract carried out in the form of an “SEO Campaign”.
A site is Search Engine Friendly (SEF) when its design, coding, menus/links, images, and other elements have been geared towards the express purpose of search engine exposure and/or indexing. Making a site SEF should be included in the cost of initially designing and building a site. For an existing site, it should be quoted as a one time project fee. As long as SEF guidelines are followed with regards to any subsequent general maintenance to a site, no other tasks or fees should be required.
Think of making a site SEF as the preparation before running a long race. Then the race itself would be the SEO campaign.
So despite being different they are obviously tied together. Many of the features which make a website SEF (using clean markup, using the proper tags for optimal indexing etc.) make a site more accessible to search engine bots which will then ultimately enhance any long term SEO undertaking.
At Strategic Insights we build all our sites to be SEF from inception and have no problem retrofitting older sites with more SEF technology. If your site is currently behaving unfriendly toward search engines… come see us and we’ll sort it out! Once it is SEF, then we’ll discuss SEO.