Archive for June 22nd, 2011


SEO’d to Death: What’s the point, really?

Eugene SEO, the Wizard of Search Marketing

Eugene SEO, the Wizard of Search Marketing

Okay, everybody doing business on the internet now knows (or should know, certainly) that websites need to be “optimized” in some fashion if they want to compete for search rank position in Google and the other engines. That if your site is unoptimized, you are a loser. You won’t get rich. You probably have bad hair.

If your site is optimized, all the glory and wealth you no-doubt deserve will flow to you like preteen girls to a Justin Bieber sighting. Your traffic will increase. Your ranks improve. Your skin clear up. People will really, really like you.

If you listen to the abundance of so-called SEO Experts, you’ll hear that “optimization” means some combination of

  • Keywords in key places
  • Backlinks, backlinks, backlinks
  • Content
  • Secret SEO mojo that only their company can offer

If you will only put a keyword here; repeat it here, here, and here; buy, beg, borrow, or steal a giant pile of backlinks; get some high school dropouts to write hundreds of pages of so-called content (full of keywords, of course); and most importantly pay the SEO a monthly chunk of change; your site will soar to the top of Google’s lofty peaks and riches will flow down to you.

All of which contains some kernel of truth.

None of which is exactly true.

The truth of is, much of this is—and should be—deeply rooted in something they used to call common sense.

If search engines rely on spiders to decide what your site is about, and spiders are just really really  dumb visitors, and popularity is used to determine which sites are the most useful, then shouldn’t you just build sites with content that is appealing and useful?

By appealing, we mean nicely arranged and interesting, by useful, we mean readable, navigable, and in some way of use to people.

Of course, you can build a website that is all of those things, and still really sucks at search ranking. Because you really do have to pay attention to just how stupid search engine spiders are: they cannot tell what your site is about unless you make it really really easy for them. Hence, the notion of keywords. You find a word that describes your webpage very clearly—in the same way an average visitor would describe it—and then put it in a couple of places that the spider will be sure to find it. Title. <H1> tag. Body content. Et cetera.

So, you build a site that is useful and pretty and helps the intellectually challenged robot spiders understand what’s going on. And in theory, lots of other useful, pretty sites will link to yours, as a general service to their own visitors. And then riches flow to you.

Except that maybe, just maybe, you could use a little help designing and writing your content, picking the right keywords, putting them in the right places, and encouraging other sites to link you up. That’s really all an SEO professional needs to do. That’s all you should expect them to do.

And that’s all they should do.