Mention that you work as an SEO in certain company, and you'll no doubt attract an evil-eye or two. For some people, SEO is just a process which results in your website being overrun by keyword after keyword - to the extent that the user experience suffers.
There's no doubt that the service offered by genuine SEOs has been tainted by the cheap, low-rate (and mostly offshore) 'SEO' firms. If you've ever registered a domain name, you'll know how quickly these companies can get hold of your email address and once they have it, your inbox will be filled with offers of guaranteed positions within Google's search results.
It's quite easy to distinguish between these companies and those offering a genuine service, but those quick to defame the SEO process should at least hear the genuine SEOs out in order to learn a little more about the processes these companies follow and the strategies they have worked to create. Contrary to popular belief, not all SEO firms are the same!
So what's Google's stance on SEO?
Our favourite Googler, Matt Cutts (who, for those of you who don't know, is Head of the Web Spam Team at Google), has recently released a video which answers the question, 'Does Google consider SEO to be spam?' The answer is no - they don't.
Clearly, Google is always working to improve its index and the results it returns in response to any given query. Part of this process is to ensure that those results cannot be gamed - hence why they keep their algorithms quiet, and why they don't publish them. Of course, many will speculate as to what helps improve website rankings, and every so often, Matt Cutts himself does talk about specific tags and processes which he promotes as 'best practice'.
In my opinion, the genuine SEOs amongst us aren't working towards creating artificial increases in traffic. First and foremost, we're about ensuring your websites are structured in the best way for the search engine bots to crawl your content. We're also about making sure your visitors are given the best possible experience and that all the helpful tags and snippets of information are available to them. From the very beginning, genuine SEO is all about improving the quality of the websites which come together to form the World Wide Web. The better websites will naturally perform better within search engines - it's only natural Google should look to identify these sites and support their sincerity.