The Case for SEP as SEO

Ross Barefoot

August 31, 2022

What is Search Engine Optimization, Really?

screenshot of dictionary definition of optimizeIt’s a strange term: Search Engine Optimization. To view it plainly, it would sound like something that Google and Bing, to namecheck just two, should be doing. “Optimizing” their “search engines” actually is what they are always working on; they want to make them the best they can possibly be. Of course “best” can include best at making money for the owners of the search engine.

My friend John would tell me that I’m being pedantic (well, what’s wrong with that?). And of course the term Search Engine Optimization, and its more frequently seen acronymic version, SEO, is already so firmly set in our business vocabulary that I would be a fool to try and offer an alternative.

(Actually I did try that path. Back in 2002, when I started in SEO, I thought a much better term was SEM: Search Engine Marketing. However the PPC folks took that one over. Yet I digress…)

Led by HubSpot, a few brave souls have tried to switch us from “SEO” to “inbound marketing.” It didn’t really take. I mean, “inbound”?

Other practitioners of SEO have referred to it as “digital marketing.” However that’s really a misuse of a term that is so broad it can encompass almost anything and everything composed of 0’s and 1’s (which sort of makes to broad to be useful; although I also still do use the term at times…I guess I can be guilty of following the crowd. — Wait up guys!)

If I were to offer my own alternative, it might be abbreviated S-E-P. (No, not the month of September, silly.) “Search Engine Promotion.”

I’ve pursued this profession for 20 years now, since the days when only math geeks knew what “google” was. As the profession has matured it’s become a tool box of many different instruments, all meant to promote a business through with a search engine as the vehicle.

This means the promotion in search doesn’t stop with helping a site to show up in search. It continues to promote that website by crafting the text of key elements like “title tag” and “meta description” tag to attract search to a listing, to persuade them to click on that listing.

Then what we do in helping our customers also involves helping that searcher to understand and interact with the website to the point where they discern the value our client offers, and “convert” to becoming a customer. All of these things fall into a path of promotion that we call “Extreme.” Of course maybe all of this is merely me trying to make a case for our company, Extreme Exposure Promotions to be named what it is, and yet to primarily focus on Search Engine Optimization. To answer the question I asked in the sub-head of this article, Search Engine Optimization really is, at its best, a tool for promoting your website. If that’s your thing, our Extreme focus might be just what will get your website the exposure it needs.


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