The Free Dictionary definition for optimize:

op·ti·mize:  To make as perfect or effective as possible.

My long-standing definition of Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

“Making your site the best it can be for users and search engines.”

SEO is both as simple and as difficult that

Making something optimal by its very nature is going to be hard work. Being the best you can be at your job, your schoolwork, your relationships, or anything else is not easy. Very few people, if any, will ever be optimized, or perfect. The same is true for websites. But that shouldn’t stop you from attempting to be optimized.

Let’s step outside of the online world for a moment and look at a real life situation where it pays to be optimized. My hope is that this analogy will help you have a better sense of what it means to be optimized.

Now that my kids are older, my husband and I frequent a little pub down the street from us. During our time there, I’ve quietly watched how the bartenders work, as well as listened to what patrons say about them.

What I’ve noticed is that when it comes to bartending, the more you meet the exact needs of each customer, the more money you will make in tips. In other words, it pays for a bartender to be optimized. While most bartenders try to be the best they can be, some are better at it than others.

Rule #1: Optimization shouldn’t turn people off

As it applies to a bartender: Take the bartender who has a great sense of humor, but can be sarcastic at times. While thick-skinned patrons (like me) find her extremely witty and amusing, others don’t. These folks didn’t come to a bar to be teased, thus, making this bartender not truly optimized. Or take the bartender who can never quite pour a full beer and doesn’t notice that your glass is empty until 10 minutes later. He or she is far from being optimized.

As it applies to your website: Is your website stuffed full of keywords? Is it extremely slow-loading and/or all Flash? Is it optimized for search engines, but not people?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re turning people off and therefore, your website isn’t optimized.

Rule #2: You can’t fake optimization

As it applies to a bartender: Take the one who is super-duper nice to everyone. While you might think she is an optimal bartender, she’s not; her extreme niceness comes across as phony to many. While it does fool some, and may even be optimal for them, she’s not optimized because she’s only pleasing one segment of her clientele.

As it applies to your website: Are you creating doorway pages/domains? Are you writing about “the history of whatever”? Are you using automated software to scrape articles off others websites and then mixing up the words? Are you hiring someone to write hundreds or thousands of low quality articles?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you may be faking your optimization. While it may appeal to some search engines for a time, it’s certainly not optimal, nor will it provide you with long term results.

Rule #3: Optimization is hard work

As it applies to a bartender: The optimized bartender is not necessarily perfect, but she is authentic. Everything she does on the job is to be the best bartender she can be. She works her butt off to please each and every customer the way they want to be pleased, which is no easy feat. Every patron is different and what’s optimal for them won’t necessarily be what’s optimal for another. If a patron likes to be flirted with, she can do that, but not so much that they think she wants to date them. On the other hand, she would never dream of flirting with a guy who was with his wife or girlfriend.

The optimal bartender treats both genders equally, and quickly learns their drink preferences, where they like to sit, little tidbits about their family, etc. She also discloses bits of personal information about herself and family, but not so much as to be always talking about herself. She’s humorous and can be self-deprecating, but in good quantities. And by the end of her shift, you know she’s exhausted (it’s often exhausting just watching her!). You can bet that this level of optimization is hard work.

As it applies to your website: Like patrons at a bar, every website is different. While there are basic strategies and tactics most websites need, there’s no SEO formula that will work for each and every one. Are you spending time every day making your website better? Are you being authentic and putting yourself out there in your blog or newsletter? Are you thinking about each and every potential customer, client or user of your website and making sure your website has exactly what they need? And are you working your butt off to do all this?

If you answered yes to those questions, you are probably tired! But you’re also on your way to having a successful website and business online. Congratulations! But first, go take a nap–you deserve it, and will need it before the real work begins!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: All Things SEO Column | Channel: SEO

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About The Author: is a pioneer in SEO, beginning in the field in the early 1990s and founding High Rankings in 1995. If you enjoy Jill's articles at Search Engine Land, be sure to subscribe to her High Rankings Advisor Search Marketing Newsletter for SEO articles, SEM advice and discounts on industry events and products.

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  • http://www.losasso.com/ Maggie@losasso

    Great comparison to the bar tender. I think – as with any job – website optimization is really about meeting the needs of your various audiences. It’s not just about optimizing for the search engines – it’s also optimizing for your potential site visitors. It’s easy to forget that. I think you did a great job demonstrating that throughout the post. Nice work!

  • pete142

    Very good bartender analogy gives the main point of the article instant clarity. Well done! I am envious :-)

 

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