Can SEO be broken down into a formula?To a point, SEO can be broken down into a formula; however I like to think of SEO as being kind of like being a code cracker. What I mean by that is that a code cracker, someone who is trying to decipher a code so that they can tell what a secret message happens to say has to be part artist and part engineer in order to make their business work. Here’s what you need to know:

The Code Breaker

Ultimately, breaking a code of any kind comes down to a question of mathematics. Every single code ever devised by man has math at its very heart and as such, engineers employed by the NSA to break codes need to be mathematical geniuses in order to reverse engineer codes. However, they need to also have the ability to think creatively rather than in a pure mathematical way so as to ensure that they really do manage to crack the codes. SEO is the same way.

Yes, It’s a Formula, But….

In its simplest terms, there is indeed a formula for SEO. You build backlinks, you include good keyword research and good content and people start visiting your website. There are specific steps you can take to improve the quality of your website so as to encourage the search engines to rank it highly. However, taking such steps only goes so far – this is why the automated tools which most SEO professional use can’t be relied upon exclusively. Ultimately, it also comes down to human beings using the innate talents that we were born with.

SEO In a Crowded Field

Let’s take a look at the ultimate goal of SEO – ultimately, your goal is to generate traffic to your website in the hope that this will in turn mean more money coming in from advertising and sales. However, getting there in a crowded field means doing more than just following the standard formula for SEO. It means doing this which are creative and unexpected in order to grab some additional market share from your competitors.

An Example

One example which I thought was interesting, though I’m not really sure how effective it was involved the promotion of a new book by Stephen King. Mind you, those wanting to read Stephen King will find his work quite easily. However, the idea of this campaign was to encourage more people to read the book who might not be King readers.
The campaign basically had clues spread all over the web for various things involved with the book (I don’t remember the details anymore and I can’t find the references to it right now). However, the bottom line was that this was a form of SEO as well – it was a way to get noticed by the search engines by creating additional buzz around the site which was promoting this book (remember – a big part of SEO is getting quality backlinks).

Did It Work?

I remember reading about this experiment a few years ago, but not what the results were. I would imagine that if the stunt had been wildly successful, it would have been mentioned more. That said, the fact that such a stunt was tried shows that SEO is not entirely about coming up with the SEO formula.
Instead, it’s partially about doing things that are conventional and partly about thinking creatively, even artistically to find new ways to apply the lessons of the SEO formula. Much like a code breaker who takes what he knows about codes and uses that creatively to crack the latest code from whatever rogue nation the NSA is trying to spy on.