Roger Johansson posted an article about search engine optimisation.
There seems to be a bit of an attitude around right now that search engine optimisation is a load of wank, that it’s unethical, SEOs are just trying to rip companies off, etc. I know that Roger does clarify that not all SEO consultants are scam artists, I’m talking about things I see on mailing lists and other web sites and blogs as well. Search engine optimisation is part of my job, so I feel compelled to try and dispel this nasty myth.
While it’s true that there are some unethical SEO companies out there, the same is true to some extent about every facet of this industry. Many companies with web sites do need the advice of an ethical search engine optimisation specialist because to be honest, most web sites out there are created by people with absolutely no understanding of the issues. And believe it or not, there are issues beyond writing lots of content with good titles that apply to a lot of sites.
A perfect example is covered in Roger’s article under the heading “get linked to”. A link to a site means absolutely nothing – or even less than that – if the link’s anchor text doesn’t include the keyword that the site is targeting. Despite the fact that most web developers are aware of the effects of “Google-bombing”, this is something they don’t really think about, or communicate fully to their clients.
For an amusing example of Google-bombing, try searching Google for “monthly drinking binge” (quotes required). Despite the fact that the Port 80 site does not contain that phrase anywhere, they come up at number 3 because that’s how I link to it from the sidebar of this site.
Another example is keyword selection. The words that companies want their web sites to be found under is not necessarily the words that their customers are using when referring to the company’s products or services. And if the common term is one the company prefers not to use, that term more than likely won’t appear in the text on their site. Finding a way to include those keywords and rank well for them is the true art of SEO.
So, the condensed version: there’s more to the operation of search engines than meets the eye, and lots of sites genuinely do need the help of an ethical SEO.