Okay that was a cheap title grab. It is an ode to a killer article written by my former boss and mentor. This article is basically to endorse the reality that there is a crap load of Bullshit SEO work being implemented out there. And unfortunately the clients are unaware that they are not receiving the brightest recommendations.
This is a repost of an article I wrote called SEO – Can you Say That With a Straight Face? Please feel free to add your comments !!
SEO – Can You Say That With a Straight Face?
Or perhaps a more appropriate statement could be; Has the phrase ‘SEO’ become a ‘4 letter word’?
In the 7+ years that I have spent optimizing websites and businesses, I have seen the acronym ‘SEO’ become somewhat alienated in the online community specifically in the perceived value from owners. The marketing professionals understand the need for SEO, it is the individuals that need it the most which still greatly misunderstand what we are trying to accomplish. I think I can speak for many of the professional SEO’s out there that there is still rampant confusion about what we do and so we are often pushed to the periphery of critical marketing decisions.
Did you just say $EO?
Think of the feeling you get when a wobble from your steering wheel convinces you to utter the word ‘mechanic’. Do you start to bristle with anger as feelings of heavy monetary losses and visions of hundred dollar bills flutter helplessly out your car window while you wobble down the street? What does the common web user or site owner imagine when the phrase SEO is batted around? Scepticism and disbelief are most likely common perceptions for business people with a familiarity of the ‘word’ but might be fairly naive to the accurate and up to date definition.
Similar to how there exists a stereo type that ‘auto mechanics’ are somewhat less than honest, the SEO community has seen this stereo type affect their industry as well to some degree. These stereotypes can be accurate based on some negative experiences or from inaccurate or outdated SEO advice from ‘backyard SEO experts’ or even SEO firms who deploy tactics that are designed to ‘trick’ the search engines, known as Black Hat SEO. Self professed ‘SEO Experts’ are found in every website design firm across the country. I’ve even had Flash developers who build 100% Flash websites declare to me that their sites would be ‘more optimized’ than my HTML converted option. This sort of ‘couldn’t be farther from the truth’ advice is unknowingly flung at honest business people daily and will quickly sour their relationship with SEO due to the lack of results and sales.
Bad SEO advice is so rampant and can cost companies 10’s of thousands of dollars. (is there a better way to say “tens of thousands of dollars”?)
Search Engine Optimization? Actually No.
SEO technically stands for Search Engine Optimization however when I attempt to explain what SEO is I find that I tend to contradict that statement while describing what modern SEO practices entail. In essence, forget about ‘search engines’ and ‘optimize’ the user experience. Only when you place the value of the visitors experience ahead of ‘search engines’ will you be rewarded with sustained, long term search engine traffic.
Ironically, the key to SEO success is to forget about search engines per se, and focus on the visitors experience on the website. Only when your visitors experience simple and logical navigation, appropriately displayed content using lead-in headings which funnel logically into text links to other pages, clearly identified ‘touch points’ or actions that you wish visitors to take and language that speaks ‘to’ the visitor, will the search engines start to reward your efforts (ignoring the back linking for the moment).
Is This Good for SEO?
It is for those precise reasons that I often frustrate people looking for a yes or no answer to questions that end with “Is that good for SEO?” My response is usually some rehashed version of “Does this item increase any aspect of the visitor’s ability to understand and interact with the website”.
When gauging whether an On Page strategy is good for SEO consider the following questions;
- Is the update visible to your web site visitors (include hover effect and accessibility concerns as is the case with Alt Attributes)?
- Does the update make it easier for visitors to understand the information and intent of the web page?
- Does the update clear a path to the next ‘phase’ in the navigation hierarchy (from Category to Product to Checkout or Conversion)
- Does the update use language which engages the Visitors
For instance Meta Keywords have long been ignored by search engines, however some SEO’s and Website Developers continue to waste valuable time populating them. Meta Keywords tags are not seen by visitors on the webpage, whether used in an HTML attribute or otherwise. They are also not used as signals on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP’s). You can also find Google explicitly supporting this in their help documents. This strategy is definitely not good for SEO
Page Titles, also known as Title Meta Tags (although they aren’t Meta Tags at all) are a different story. Title Tag content is used by search engines to populate the main heading link that is clicked on in the search engine results in order to visit each web page. On the webpage itself, the Title Tag is often populated dynamically using content from the page itself or hand written by the site owner. The Page Title is also used by the browser to label the browser window or tab and to build the Bookmark Title. These prominent signals are easily detected by visitors and so are used to identify the contextual topic of the web page. This strategy is definitely good for SEO.
The company that I work for, Falcon Software places heavy influence on the user experience with our search engine optimization campaigns building a strong relationship with the client first in order to fully understand who the ideal visitor is before developing a long term plan for success.
Til next time
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