The only people who do search engine optimisation are the people who run the search engines (i.e. Google).Only they have access to the search engine.
So only they can optimise it!
It would be like me saying "Hi. I do stock exchange optimisation". You respond with "Okay. So how do you optimise the stock exchange?". Then I say "I don't. I actually optimise companies so they perform better on the stock market". You would be perfectly right to say "So you're not a really doing stock exchange optimisation, you are doing company optimisation". So I would argue people who claim to do search engine optimisation are ACTUALLY doing website optimisation or to be more precise website marketing.
Why is this important?
The reason I think this is important is because it demonstrates one vital part of SEO
which is often undervalued by business owners. The marketing part. The same as creating a website requires a blend of technical and creative abilities, SEO requires the same blend. In fact I would say marketing skills are more valuable when it comes to SEO than technical skills. So all the geeks in the world won't get your site to #1 :)The marketing skills I am touching on here are: competitor research, communications, brand awareness, article writing, product promotion. All of these play an important part in marketing your business on the web. All of these are things business owners can understand a lot easier than technical jargon like link building, link farming or link bait.