If you distilled the answer to why we do SEO all the way down to a single purpose, it’d probably be to connect. We do SEO because we want to connect our content with that vast pool of information that is the internet. We do it because we want that content to connect effectively with search engine algorithms, reliably and productively. We do SEO because we want our content to connect with as many interested people as possible.
So, let’s look at the answer from those three perspectives to illustrate the purpose of SEO better.
To connect with the internet:
The internet, in and of itself, is a vast network of interconnected content, and search engines serve a crucial function that has helped shaped the way it has evolved over the years.
If you wish to find something – anything – on the internet that you have no previous connection with, you need to use search engines. Most importantly, if you wish for people who might be interested in your content to find it without you directly leading them to it, you need to make sure search engines know about your content.
Otherwise, that fantastic video you made and uploaded to an unregistered website or that portfolio you uploaded to an online gallery no one knows about, will just sit on a server forever with no views and no user interaction and might as well have been left in your hard drive.
To connect with Search Engine Algorithms:
As I said, Search Engines are integral to the way we use the internet today, and their algorithms are the only reliable way machines have to make sense and sort out the massive amounts of data uploaded to the internet every single minute.
A computer program (an algorithm) is still unable to understand content in the way we humans do. So, as a workaround, we’ve designed the inner workings of search engines to identify key characteristics and markers to help them sort out said content in a manner that makes sense for human users.
This idea is the principle behind SEO. That of using techniques designed to take advantage of those key characteristics by making sure they are present in the content you put out so that algorithms can reliably find it, sort it, and display it to those people that might be interested in it.
To connect with People:
When it’s all said and done, you didn’t write that beautiful poem for Google’s algorithm to sort out and placed in a data index. Your company did not upload a full online catalog of products just to have Bing crawl spiders all over it. And you did not write that clever, hashtagged tweet to get a ping from Yahoo’s search engine.
You did it all to connect with people.
You want those who might appreciate your poetry to read and maybe comment on it. Your company is trying to make it easier for people to buy from them. You tweeted to get others into a conversation you might enjoy.
SEO is about connecting your content with people, and the techniques and strategies that go into it always take that into account.