Someone asked me about my thoughts on SEO (search engine optimization) at an search engine event two years ago and I responded that I thought SEO was B.S. Yesterday Danny asked me again about that statement and I tried to make it clear.
It seems that folks are spinning the comments–again. Let me be *try* and be super clear here. I don’t hate SEO folks, and I don’t think it’s all B.S.–just most of it.
My belief has always been that:
- a) if you do a great site and you take your time you will rise in the Google rankings
- b) I have faith in Google’s ability to sort the good from the bad
- c) all the SEO folks I’ve ever talked to–and I’ve talked to many over the past decade or so–have pitched me on expensive contracts that you can’t cancel for two years with them to do all kinds of shady things to move up in the rankings
- d) the best way to do SEO is make better content, more consistently
The SEO industry has a reputation issue. It seems that like hackers there are “white hat” and “black hat” folks. In other words, folks who do “good” SEO (as in fair techniques) and folks who do shady/bad SEO.
Now, I’m no expert on SEO, but I have been blessed with having great tech folks on my teams over the years and we’ve of course discussed making things easy for search engines. Things like naming the URLs well with real words vs. putting things like numbers in the URLs. Things like linking to your various sites (having a blogroll), having tags, and having a sitemap.
As a matter of fact, when we redid Netscape our search engine traffic went from 2% in June to 8% in October–that’s a huge jump and it’s thanks to good site design, better content, and more user interaction. I’m sure that digg gets 10-20% of their traffic from Google at this point, and Netscape is right behind digg in that regard. In fact, Netscape will probably pass digg in terms of search traffic in another year because it has tags and digg does not.
So, when I say I think SEO is B.S. I’m talking about the shady stuff–not the good guys. If folks are building good websites, well, then they’re consulting folks on building decent websites in my mind.
I know for a fact that a lot of folks in the industry look at the SEO companies as shady. They feel like it’s filled with slick guys in really bad suits running around at cheap hotels pushing desperate clients to sign fat contracts. That’s how folks look at SEO–like it or not.
It’s just a fact.
Is it fair? Not to the good, white hat SEO folks–but it is fair to the shady folks who’ve earned their reputations.