Search engine optimization is a bit of a strange beast. Search engines attempt to ensure that the best content is getting the best positioning. So the real way to score well is to actually have the best content on a particular subject. SEO is the means by which you make sure your content is being provided in the best way possible. So far everything is making sense.

What doesn’t make sense is spending money on an SEO service when you don’t have good content to begin with. I just did a google search for “airline” and the first link was for Air Canada (and it wasn’t an advertisement). There is no chance that I could create a website, no matter what amount of SEO techniques I employ, that could supplant their position. Why? They have relevant content, lots of it, and are considered an authority on the subject.

In all honesty, I used to consider SEO experts to be snake oil salesmen. I mean, someone could say they’ve done thousands of dollars of SEO work, but you’d have no way of knowing if this is the truth. Your position in Google’s search engine may have moved up a couple of spaces, but was that related the SEO expert’s work? Maybe Google’s algorithm changed (and it does regularly).

Having “good SEO” on a site really comes down to three things:

  1. Content that is relevant, well organized, and doesn’t contain redundancies.
  2. Resultant HTML code that follows proper semantics and with accessibility taken into account.
  3. Appropriate metadata and links (coming and going) to increase the site’s authority.

The first point is primarily the responsibility of the entity that owns the website. Presumably, the website says what the entity wants it to say, and that it’s relevant. The second point is the responsibility of whoever creates the website. The third is where one might hire an SEO professional to help get the best search engine results possible.

So, from my perspective, much of SEO comes from proper planning and execution when actually creating the site and its content. This is what will get you most of the way to where you want to go. It’s if you’re trying to climb up one or two spots where an SEO expert would be useful; but it can be expensive. For some businesses that one spot might be worth it, but for others it’s not.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, with good web development most SEO is implied.