Optimization is NOT “Just Marketing”

market*

There are a lot of articles recently telling us that SEO is “just marketing” now. SEO is dead, “finished” or only makes sense as part of digital, internet, inbound or content marketing. I’m really tired of reading this cliché. There are two reasons for that:

  1. I consider myself an optimizer not a marketer.
  2. marketing is only a small subset of optimization.

Optimization means improvement. Marketing means bringing something to a market.  I guess this sounds very much like abstract linguistic pedantry. Let us take a step back then and consider where I come from.

As a kid I lived in a dictatorship.

It was not only a dictatorship, it was also a state without a market. Thus I can remember what it’s like when there is no market. Marketing of course works only when there is functioning market environment of supply and demand, money and lawfulness. People in the West, especially in the US are so used to have a functioning market that they assume it’s the natural state of being. Also having valuable money is considered self-evident. The dollar has been of high value for at least 200 years!

I remember how worthless money was in the time of hyperinflation back when I was little.

There was no proper market, just an unofficial black market. You couldn’t buy things with the state currency in most cases, you needed foreign currencies, from a democratic working economy, dollars for example. To this day many people in Poland where I was born love the US no matter what wars they start or how obnoxious their policies are. In Poland the USA stands for freedom, wealth and prosperity unlike any other country. Imagine a similar situation today.

We may face a complete breakdown of the banking system and the market economy sooner than you think.

We almost witnessed one already. Next time there won’t be enough trillions of tax money anymore to repay the banksters’ debt. So when the market collapses, who you will be marketing to? The people with the worthless money? Or will you join the black market criminals and try to sell stuff for gold “below the table” as we said in Poland? Apparently marketing will break down when the market collapses.

To explain it in simple economic terms: when the demand is much higher than the supply there is no need for advertising anymore.

The prices skyrocket. Everybody wants to get the remaining goods. We weren’t hungry back then. We received food stamps you could sometimes exchange for food. Getting shoes or even toilet paper was something completely different. You had to take propaganda newspapers as toilet paper instead because it was the only paper you could get for your money.

When the official or legal market ceases to exist people still have to survive even without money. Some survive by force and cunning, the large majority relies on relationships, mutual aid and exchange though. Also as there is no way to buy new things people focus on fixing things. That’s why you still see cars from the fifties run in Cuba.

Optimization is about improving or fixing things. SEO is about improving or fixing websites.

SEO 2.0 is about relationships that result in hyperlinks. So when the market breaks down for good, marketing will cease to exist but optimization will still be there. I know first hand. So don’t tell me that SEO is “just marketing”.

I know some of you mean to say that you don’t have to focus on technology anymore and many techniques taken from marketing can be applied to search engine optimization now too. That’s true. Optimization is not just marketing nonetheless. It’s much more than that. Optimization, improving or fixing things is independent of a market. Sales, advertising and marketing is not. Also believe me, the black market doesn’t need marketing. The opposite is the case, authorities usually are keen on subduing it so you don’t go around shouting “buy illegal goods here”.

* Creative Commons image by Robert S. Donovan