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Whats in a name

There was an interesting conversation yesterday on the SEO Training Dojo which has acted as the springboard for this post. For a while now we have seen a number of people extol new derivatives and variations as regards SEO, and one in particular has stuck around for a while ““ that of DAO. Digital asset optimisation is a term thats been around for a while, coined initially by Lee Odden as “˜The future for keyword optimization of content and media for search‘.

From then a number of posts and “˜DAO specialists‘ have sprung up ““ however are we in danger out overcomplicating things yet again – and again moving into the age old SEO specialism of smoke and mirrors.

source; TopRank Blog


Whilst one could argue that the realms of DAO could go beyond search engines, there is no doubting that within SEO circles this is often used for the particular focus on assets such as video, audio and image based frameworks. In Lee’s post written back in 2007, DAO basically fitted in as follows:

Universal search and personalized search means the kinds of search results SEO consultants have become accustomed to and optimizing for are either on the way out or on the decline. The task of optimizing any electronic files that can be crawled, indexed, categorized and sorted is where the opportunity lies. This is more than just optimizing social media, it’s a more holistic perspective on helping content become easier to find via search than simply relying on text documents. Most organizations produce an array of different content types and search engines are doing their best to index that content so they can run ads next to it.

When the term SEO (or search engine optimisation) ““ first used by John Audette back in 1997 – our search engines were very much a text based entity. At that point many there was very little in the way of paid search inventory or the like ““ let alone any blended search opportunities such as the video search results, the product search results or Google Places.

The search engine landscape since then has changed significantly. Modern day search engines are a completely different beast to those of the last decade ““ further to that the players are also different. However at the core of it remains the same objective ““ that of optimising websites for search engines. Nothing has changed from that perspective, whether I am optimising copy for my site, news for Google News or simply video to integrate into my brand/core/vanity terms ““ the philosophy is still the same.


Where does it fit

In my opinion, SEO is commercial wise in a bit of a bubble. Many people have reported to see an upturn in SEO as advertisers look to get the most of their marketing budgets. Further to this the direct accountability of online and transparency of its impact makes it an attractive proposition in an otherwise unattractive economic climate. SEO in particular has also come of age. WE are increasingly moving away from the age old metrics of page rank, pages indexed and volume of position 1s in the serps to one of share of voice, traffic, leads and sales.ROI is core to many modern day SEO campaigns ““ and this may have had something to do with the increase in popularity.

This has meant we ““ to a certain degree ““ moved away from the smoke and mirrors perception of the past. It is for this reason that I can’t help thinking that complicating and clouding the issue in terms of DAO vs SEO is potentially a dangerous thing. DAO in my opinion sits as a subset of a modern SEO’s armoury in addition to the technical, content and offpage optimisation which is the mainstay of any traditional SEO campaign.

With Google increasingly leveraging assets such as Local as part of the results, our expertise in remits beyond 1997 SEO should reflect as such. Lets not hide behind nuances in names, instead lets just accept that SEO has changed and embrace it as such.



  1. Terry January 20, 2011

    The actual role of “optimization” in DAO is a small part of the process. You can optimize the “media” for discovery and a few ranking signals. It’s more about distribution/audience targeting strategy, community building for comments and “user signals” and lotta’ luck.

  2. Peter Young January 20, 2011

    Cheers Terry

    I did mention that in the post – however I think a lot of people don’t include that in the process certainly looking round researching the post that was highly evident – and it often falls merely into the optimisation of non text based content for search engine purposes – hence the post.

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