What’s Wrong with SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?


An excerpt from Google Analytics for one of my sites.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a set of techniques for improving SERP (Search Engine Result Placement, or Search Engine Result Page). The terms SEO and SERP are almost always used in reference to Google, the dominant search engine.

The goal is to place a website as high as possible in the first page of results, preferably as the first entry in the organic results section, which greatly increases the traffic to the website.

SEO strategies include:

  • Pings and other techniques to call the attention of a search engine to a web page
  • Meta Tags
  • Strategic keywords in the body of the page
  • Latent Semantic Indexing
  • Backlinking
  • Exact Match Domaining

In the ever-escalating war between Google and people trying to game the system, there are other tactics that come and go with each Google update. Something that works really well this week may cause your website to completely disappear next week.

If you carefully examine this site, you will find that I do very little SEO here. Most of my “SEO” is just a natural part of writing articles that I hope people will want to read.

SEO itself is not (completely) dead, but the gaming the system is getting progressively harder. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a Good Thing. Gaming the system might get some Google love for your site, but that is likely to be both short-lived and expensive.

Back when Google first started (which isn’t really all that long ago!), it was trivial to get top rankings. All you had to do was stuff your meta tags with keywords. Lots of keywords. When Google wised up to that and started de-emphasizing (some say “ignoring”) meta tags, people started to stuff the text itself with keywords. That got annoying to visitors, so the gamers started “hiding” the keyword-stuffing by making the keywords very small, or the same color as the background, or positioning them in some obscure place. Google figured that out, too.

There arose an entire industry around various ways to game the system, and people in highly competitive niches began paying ridiculous amounts of money to try to get their sites high on Google’s front page in order to get “free” traffic. That “free” traffic got to be pretty expensive. Plus, as soon as your competition found that you knocked them down in the SERPs, they would simply figure out what you did, and just do more of it. The SEO service companies, who are playing a game of “let’s you and him fight” (if you don’t recognize that phrase, here’s a really good book on NLP for you to check out), laugh all the way to the bank.

I don’t pay for SEO services(*), nor do I spend a lot of time on SEO, because I don’t really care much about it. See the bottom of this post for some techniques I consider to be much better.

(*) It is fairly common that I will get an email, a contact form submission, or even a phone call from somebody from an SEO company who has “discovered” that one of my sites “doesn’t appear on page one” [for whatever incredibly obscure and unrelated keyword he is using] and offers to “help” me with SEO. In the case of a phone call, I like to play the following game:

  • I ask the caller what his company’s most important service is. I type whatever he answers into Google.
  • I ask him for the name of his company’s website. I type that into my browser search, and look for it on the first few pages of the Google results.
  • I ask him why his website doesn’t show on the first two or three pages of my search for the most important service offered by his company.
  • I offer to “help” him with SEO, for only $35,000/month.

You see, the person calling me was able to find my site and contact information using a web search, so obviously I’m doing a better job of SEO than his company is.

So, what do I do about SEO?

To start, when I write a post, I pick a title that tells the reader what the post is about, and then try to write an article that focuses narrowly on that topic. Then I edit the article for readability, and get somebody else (usually my wife) to read it and offer improvement suggestions. Then I get a few backlinks using some free methods, and drive a bit of traffic using either free or paid methods. I don’t spend a lot of time or money on any of these.

I will discuss my backlinking and traffic generation strategies in other posts. This one is already getting too long.

I sometimes will put a couple of related keywords in my meta tags. It’s possible that some search engine other than Google may use them. (What? You didn’t know there were other search engines? Try Bing.com or DuckDuckGo.com, both of which almost always do a better job of finding relevant stuff for me than Google does.)

If I should notice that people are finding my website with a search engine, I may try to add a keyword or two just to make the search a bit easier. Unfortunately, Google recently made a change that makes it harder to discover what keywords are being used to find my site. So it goes…

Chances are that you did not arrive here from a Google search, simply because it is a part of my business model never to depend on Google for anything important.

Would you like some other traffic-getting techniques that work better, faster, and more reliably than SEO? Here are two good sources (actually, both of these courses mention SEO, but only in passing).

  1. A completely free video course called YouTube Hijack
  2. A low-cost course called Web Traffic Loophole, on Traffic Generation, & Outsourcing, which includes video interviews with a dozen very successful Internet marketers.

I have both of these courses, and I go back to them occasionally because every time I do, I pick up a few more tidbits of useful information.

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