SEO Is No Shell Game

Derek Powazek recently published a fairly invective-filled rant called “Spammers, Evildoers, and Opportunists” that calls SEO a con.

Search engine optimization does not need to be sleazy to be effective. Any enterprise can be turned into a con with a slight shift in perspective and goals. The folks who are up in arms about Powazek’s rant are letting the vitriol get in the way of the message: great SEO is a natural extension of good writing and good web development.

SEO Tactics

Back in the days of gaming the system by loading your site with keywords, it was relatively easy to get a higher page ranking. Anybody could throw phrases like “Britney Spears” into their metadata and see a spike in traffic. Yes, many SEO tactics are common sense: proper formatting, summaries, relevant links, utilization of keywords. Some are disreputable: hidden links, botnets, spam blog comments. But search bots are smarter than that, and so is your audience. Real content made by real humans will win you better search rankings and more customers better than any “easy fix” to increase traffic.

Understanding Your Business Purpose

The key to Powazek’s entire post is here: It’s not your job to create content for Google. It’s their job to find the best of the web for their results. Readers are your audience, not Google’s algorithm.

Your company doesn’t sell products; It helps people solve problems and fill needs. Proper, honest SEO is one tool among many to help you help others, and building that level of trust takes time and patience. As more and more humans relate to your content, and you become a trusted source of information, your audience becomes wider. Professional and amateur bloggers will talk about and link to your site as a means of providing further resources.

Building Trust Through Good Content

Providing good content builds this trust over time and establishes you and your company as an authority—one that is worth referencing. These inbound organic links not only direct more and more people to your site/service but serve as indicators of importance to search engines. Again, it’s not about gaming the system; it’s about providing quality content over time to foster organic linking, not about “tricking” search robots into finding you.

So yes, paid SEO is something of a scam. Good SEO practice would be organic function of good writing, information architecture, and web design. Additionally, alignment with brand marketing strategies and PR efforts are also great ways to utilize SEO.

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