Social sciences and SEO – a personal take on search engine optimisation as a discipline
It is quite common among both professionals and amateurs to debate on the nature of SEO as well as what the best approaches for optimisation are. I expressed my own opinion on another page – What is SEO, but even so I realise that my own approaches vary according to the task and circumstances I work in. One thing which is certain though is that SEO professionals bring inspiration from other disciplines and use their own background to come up with successful ideas and techniques for SEO.
Generally, there is no absolute truth when it comes to approaches for SEO. To me, search engine optimisation is something between a science and an art, which is why I feel so passionate about the subject. But on the other hand, having studied Social sciences for many years and being interested in Sociology particularly, I see the internet as a virtual society of humans interacting on line. Like any other society, the internet social setting has its rules, patterns and values. One thing that distinctively places the internet in a league of its own is the speed at which things develop and the evolution of the on line community. For us the SEO enthusiasts, this means we have to keep in touch with everything new and anticipate potential developments in order to direct our efforts the right way.
Very often, there are no clearly-defined patterns of interaction in societies, and the same idea is valid for the internet. But one way of finding out what the unwritten rules of a society are is to break them and that way boundaries of the permitted/forbidden become clearer. It of course means an experimental approach shouldn’t be applied to important sites/clients, but rather to purposefully designed on line properties. In Sociology, this approach is known as Ethnomethodology, and although we needn’t go into sociological detail for the purpose of this SEO matters post, I recommend some further reading on how the human society works and how sociological theory can be applied to SEO, both as a science and an art. When dealing with things such as link profiles, neighbourhoods, natural increase of links over time, sites’ authority and so on, social sciences and Sociology in particular can offer very inspiring ideas for anyone willing to adopt a less invoked source of inspiration.
In SEO, experience is of great importance and the more experience anyone passionate about optimisation gains, the more a certain feel for the whole linkscape of the internet develops. There is ‘no substitute for real miles’ in SEO too, but as long as the passion for the constantly shifting sands of on line marketing is there, the results will follow. The key is to look for inspiration where others don’t even consider, that way you will stay clear of the crowd, and with this particular niche being so competitive, staying ahead of the crowd is both satisfying and rewarding at the same time.