I get quite a lot of “oh we can SEO optimize your site for you” emails lately. I don’t know why, but SEO is bullshit. Really. SEO is one of those areas of expertise that are total rubbish.
Common SEO advice
The most common advise regarding SEO includes:
- Getting links to your site
- Add tons of keywords so the Google Crawler knows what you’re talking about
- Add META data, lots of it
- Structure your page in some way for crawlers to understand better
- Add an XML sitemap
There might be some merit in this, but you are optimizing your site for a crawler, a computer program that interprets your site. Are crawlers your primary audience? If so, you have a sad site.
SEO Hacking is another common term I find in emails. SEO hacking tries to trick search engines to list your site higher for certain keywords. I won’t go into the details, but basically you try to cheat a search engine’s indexing rules.
Some shady SEO companies even offer you a guarantee that you’ll be the number 1 listen for certain keywords. Really? But how valuable is that?
The problem with doing a lot of SEO hacks on your site is this: search engines and crawlers are continuiously updated to prevent hacking. Although this is not disclosed by Google, there are rumours that if you do actually use ‘SEO hacks’, you’re site will be ranked lower, instead of higher.
The best SEO advice you can get
So, what can you do to make people find your site? Simple:
Write. Good. Content.
Use headers like
<em> tags to highlight import terms or words in your text — this is valuable to your readers as well.
If your content is good, readers will find it. Link to it. Tweet about it. And crawlers will always be able to index your site properly. Of course, it helps to tell people about your article using social media and other news sites for your niche.
So, not META-tags you say?
No, that’s not whaty I’m saying. META tags do prodide information to crawlers, you should not assume they use that information in any way. For example, Ariejan.net has these META-tags:
<meta content='About Software Engineering, Ruby on Rails, Java, Git and the Cloud - by Ariejan' name='description'> <meta content='ruby, rubyonrails, rails, git, svn, mysql, mac, ios, apple, web, web2.0, development, dev' name='keywords'>
In Google, this results in a view like this:
Do note that the posts listed are considered popular by Google. Those are the post that are most visited and linked to on my site.
If you get an email, promising you that for $200 you’re site will be ranked nr. 1 for specific keywords: throw it away.
The best SEO is writing awesome content people want to read.