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Good SEO should be Invisible

Careful! This post is looking a little old and could be inaccurate in many, many ways

Yesterday the well respected web designer that is Paul Boag wrote the post “Why I Don’t get SEO“. As I work a Bronco, primarily an SEO company, I was planning on commenting but originally felt I’d simply be covering the same ground as the other commenter’s. So instead I thought I’d write a response here and try to highlight why SEO is a necessity for many websites.

Paul’s Argument

I think Paul’s post is mainly based on two arguments:

  1. A company could spend their money more wisely
  2. A search optimised website is not the same as a user optimised website

In truth I think that Paul’s opinion comes from one simple fact; Good SEO should be Invisible. Unfortunately for Paul a mix of misinformation and misunderstanding has tainted his opinion and led to a black hat view of the SEO industry. This would be like saying that all web designers still build using tables.

What’s the point then?

So why are SEO services so popular and seen by so many companies as a necessary requirement in their online strategies?


When it comes to websites the ‘If you build it them will come’ attitude is frankly stupid, in the short to medium term at least. Visitors will rarely happen across websites by chance, especially if they’re not found in Google. What SEO does is help move you up the rankings so that people can find your site and have a look. A well built website is the largest factor in this but it will only get you so far up the rankings.


If you operate in a competitive market at some point you will reach a line where above you is a group of sites that are being optimised for the search engines. If a company wishes to compete in this marketplace and rise up the listings then they have to adopt the same methods of their competitors. Hopefully at this point they find a good SEO that can help them find methods that give them the edge to beat their competitors in the serps (Search Engine Results Pages).


This is related to visitors, if a site doesn’t have the visitors it won’t get the revenue, simple enough. As even a single position movement in the serps can lead to a boost in revenue it is easy to see why a business will employ an SEO to help them pick up those extra positions.

It’s not all black hat

Sure there are some bad eggs in the SEO industry that don’t care for the long term position of their clients. Instead they guarantee quick results, at a low cost which will in the long term harm a website. These SEO’s are only concerned with their bottom line and the vanity of getting a client to number one in Google.

Yes, high rankings are simply a vanity thing, the same as web design awards. Rankings alone don’t guarantee an increase in revenue. As an SEO you have to ensure you target high traffic terms that drive suitable traffic for a given website. It’s not simply about chucking as many users at a site and hoping some still it’s about guiding them to exactly the thing they were looking for, but on the site of your client. But even this isn’t enough for a truly excellent SEO.

Rather than simply be happy at gaining a website good rankings and high traffic a good SEO will ensure, when necessary, that the website is also converting those new users. If a site has seen an increase in traffic then revenue should increase accordingly, if this doesn’t happen then it’s time to look at how the site can be improved for conversions. In reality it’s the revenue a site gets that is the ultimate metric on which an SEO will be judged so they will work on any part of the website in order to win.

What’s in a name?

So with all this is SEO actually an accurate description anymore? Probably not but what’s the point in messing with something that everyone understands. This is something I don’t think the web design industry has learnt yet.

Keep it Invisible

The simple truth is that there is a market out there for SEO and so for that fact it has to be embraced, but just like in the web design industry there are a few bad eggs that ruin it for everyone else and thus feed opinions like Paul’s.

You’ll probably find loads of sites you love are SEO’d it’s just you don’t know it because it’s not done at the expense of the users.