Recently, Derek Powazek wrote a fairly aggressive rant attacking SEO as a profession and business. Unfortunately, while he makes a few good points, he muddies the water with even more misinformation.
Let’s clear some of that up right here.
The Good Advice is obvious, and the rest doesn’t work
This is spot on. The good advice is not only obvious, it’s also very easy to implement on your site.
- Unique Titles and Title Tags
- Using Heading with relevant keywords
- Good text content that is interesting and relevant
- Outbound links to other related and interesting pages/sites
- Accessible design/code that makes viewing the content easy
We can all agree that those are the right methods. Derek calls it “making a website good” in the comments. We call it SEO, or at least one aspect of SEO. Google and the other search engines encourage and reward these practices because it makes good content easier to find for searchers (people).
The above list is great advice. It is easy and you should be doing it on your site.
Now we can address the second point: SEO is poisoning the web. Let’s fix it first.
SEO Spam is poisoning the web
That looks much more accurate now. SEO Spam is a mixed bag of loopholes and black-hat tricks that, to borrow Derek’s phrase, “are ineffective at best and destructive at worst.”
There are many practices involving bot computers and fake blogs and other automated processes used to generate link farms solely to increase ranking. They steal content or print gibberish all in an effort to gain clicks for other sites. There are other practices involving hiding links and text to trick the Search Engines into seeing something that the typical web surfer would not see. This is all bad, and any real SEO professional would never recommend these things. They are disgusting and they ruin the search experience for everyone. They force search engines to waste time playing cat & mouse when they could be innovating. If you are exploring SEO services, make sure the company you choose does not use these tactics. They will only end up hurting you.
Real-life SEO Experience
I’ve been knee-deep in Search Engine Optimization for about 6 months now, and I have never wasted my time with anything but the good advice in the list above. I’ve seen great results by simply updating Titles and Headlines and making the text content more web-friendly with <p> tags and the occasional bolding of important terms. It takes some time, but the effects have been lasting and will continue to help future content. I don’t promise results, I just promise that I will do the 5 easy steps above across a website.
Many of my clients are not in the internet business. They are doctors, marketers, educators, and other professionals who have a skill they do very well. They don’t want to learn the easy steps to SEO and spend time doing it. They came to us because they wanted to outsource that task to someone with more knowledge and experience. Derek says that SEO is “so obvious, anyone who pays for it is a fool.” Am I a fool for sending my laundry out? It’s simple and easy to do, but I just don’t want to do it. I’m fully capable of making a grilled cheese sandwich (easy and simple), so am I a fool for buying one at Steak-n-Shake? I don’t think so.
SEO, just like any other business, has professionals that are ethical, fair, and honest as well as those who try to cheat the Search Engines and their clients. If you need SEO services, find a company with a phone number and an office. Meet with them and ask them what they do. A small bit of education can help you to select the right people to help with your Search Engine Optimization needs.