So what does an SEO really do?

"So I get what your goals are, but what tasks does an SEO do on a day to day basis?"

I get this question so often, and rightfully so, that it might as well have a written format to it. In the 1990's and late 2000's SEO had a really, really bad connotation to it. People were buying links, manipulating search engines and other mischievous deeds (some SEOs still do them to this day). After a while, companies started becoming very skeptical of anyone in the industry.

That led to this question of "what do we actually do" so that companies could keep tabs on SEOs. I'll work from the outside in on this one:

Our main goal, above all, is to generate revenue for your business. Now this doesn't narrow it down much as there are an infinite number of tasks that can lead to that end result. But that's the thing, SEO is basically a giant task priority list. We do the task that we think will generate the best results and then we move on down the list.

Now that probably still leaves you with as many questions as answers, so let's try and simplify. For starters, there are two types of SEO tasks: Setup Tasks and Recurring Tasks.

Setup Tasks

These are clear-cut. They're the tasks that we need to accomplish to get your site indexed and lay the ground work for everything else that we do. This includes:

  • Setting up Analytics
  • Optimizing your sitemap
  • Submitting the site and making sure it gets indexed
  • Creating a Keyword Map (known to some as a 'wireframe')
  • A few other small tasks

Recurring Tasks

This is that list that I mentioned earlier. The reason SEO is referred to as an obscure profession is because it's really a list of hundreds of random tasks that will either generate traffic, improve conversion rate or help grow your business in some way.

That can include (brace yourselves): redirects, HTML, image compression, content writing, social media work, Google Maps verification, schema markup, link building (the whitehat kind, not the bad kind), A/B testing..

Are you asleep yet?

code minification, penalty removal, enhanced eCommerce, conversion funnel optimization, on-page optimization, keyword research, landing page analysis, regex, CSS, apache configuration...

If your eyes are crossed then you're a normal person and you've passed the test, congratulations. However, that's not even close to the full list of things that we do. In my continued attempt to simplify things, I'll create my own official definition of SEO the way Google sees it.

Search Engine Optimization: The attempted improvement of user experience in an effort to generate revenue for a client.

And if you're ever curious why colleges don't offer courses in SEO (at least not any that I know), then it's because SEO changes constantly and it's just a random bag of tasks. By the time you learned it in an academic setting, your knowledge would be outdated in the real world.

But beware, if you become an SEO then you have to learn how to answer the hard questions, such as what we do on a day to day basis.