The common phrase, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, is often attributed to Aristotle. Aristotle, a philosopher born in 384 BC, had a knowledge and expertise on subjects such as physics, biology, economics, and politics. One area that he doesn’t get much credit for, is being a great philosopher of SEO in 2021. I get asked often by clients and prospective clients, “what is the single, #1, most important, biggest thing I can do for SEO on my site?” With SEO, the truth is, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 

With SEO, there is no single silver bullet idea or technique that will get you to the number one spot on Google. SEO has evolved to a much more throughout and strategized puzzle than it was in the early days. Back when SEO was first a thing, 1,000 backlinks from a random source was a sure fire way to the top. Today, even 10,000 backlinks from a random source won’t do a ton of good. SEO in 2021 is all about focusing on and improving a wide list of things on your site – over and over and over again. The tricky part today, is that any one of those things isn’t a huge deal in itself. But when they are all tied together, the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. 

Things like image alt tags, are not a huge deal by themselves. Image file names are not a huge deal by themselves. Keyword usage, while certainly a bigger deal, won’t get a number one ranking all by itself. Page load speed, another crucial factor, isn’t necessarily a deal maker by itself. Having a minimum of 300 words of text on a page, while a great starting point, isn’t that big of a deal by itself. Having a proper page layout to improve readability and makes the users more engaged and happier, but by itself isn’t a huge deal. 

But take all of those things together – image alt tags, image file names, keyword usage, page load speed, 300 words of text at minimum, proper page layout – now the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. No one of those things will skyrocket your site to the top of the rankings. But put them all together, now we’re talking about a site that is going to be looking to move up the rankings. If you think of each of those as a separate cog in SEO, each needs to be adjusted and tightened, in unison with the others, to help your site get an upward ranking movement.

With SEO, the whole is for sure much greater than the sum of its parts. The days of a quick “get to the top” approach are over for SEO. It’s all a matter of staying faithful and diligent to making adjustments and improvements to each little cog in the SEO puzzle. Aristotle may not have had much of a clue about what Google was going to be over 2,000 years after his lifetime, but the phrase “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” certainly describes SEO in 2021.