Why is SEO like lipstick?

I must have still been a bit sleepy this morning while driving to work. You know how it is, the mind wanders, your creative juices start flowing and you start making connections that weren’t so obvious before. My train of thought this morning was how SEO (Search Engine Optimisation for the uninitiated) is a bit like make-up. It can enhance the way a website looks to a search engine, to make it that little bit more attractive. Just like lipstick can make someone’s lips stand out and get that second glance, SEO can help a website stand out that little bit more than its competition.

But you wouldn’t apply lipstick to a pig, would you? No amount of makeup will ever make it attractive (well, except maybe to another pig I guess). I was drawn further into the analogy with the thought that SEO is really just a thin veil that helps get that second look. When constructing your website you shouldn’t be making compromises for SEO, you should be focusing on your message, focusing on your clients, focusing on your services. Sure, you have to keep an eye on the SEO aspects (resisting the lure of the Dark Side – the Flash-only site), but this should never be your primary focus. After all, the secret is in the name. SEO is all about OPTIMISATION .. which is all about achieving maximum advantage, building up on what is already available.

I’m not saying SEO isn’t important. We all know we can get benefit from SEO, in the same way we can get benefit from any adwords campaign google lets us put together. But the effects of SEO fade as other websites jostle for position, as ranking factors evolve over time, as search engine technologies change. Think of SEO as the make up you put on before you go out somewhere special. It gives you that extra boost, inspires confidence .. but is a fading memory the next day.

So, if SEO is the lipstick that makes you look twice at someone, what’s the secret sauce that keeps people coming back for more? You know the answer, of course, my friends! Content! Fresh, unique content is the life blood of every site, it’s the alluring personality that makes everyone want to befriend your website. In the same way that someone’s sparkling personality makes you want to get close to them, makes you want to spend time with them; in exactly that same way, a website’s content is what will make you want to bookmark a website, it’s what makes Search Engines come around to index your content more often, it’s what makes people link to your website.

And this, my friends, is what you need to be focusing on. Regardless of whether you’re a print management website, selling custom diamond rings by Motek Diamonds or just have a small personal website, the advice is the same. Focus on your site structure and layout when you build your site. These are your good looks. Focus on SEO occasionally. This is the makeup you wear when you’re out to party. But above all, focus on your content. This is the personality that will make others love you, remember you and drive your success.

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