My eye was caught by Scoble’s recent 2010: the year SEO isn’t important anymore? I thought most of what he said made sense, but the fact is that they’re still out there and what they’re selling is mostly bogus.

I was impressed enough with Scoble’s argument that I watched the video, in which a couple of SEO types tried to talk about the future. It was completely disconnected, pretty well the same-old same-old, near as I can tell. I think that for most people who are trying to get a Web presence on the air, SEO is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

In fact, up at the top of the article, I said “bogus” and, rather than defend that position, I’ll refer you to Derek Powazek’s Spammers, Evildoers, and Opportunists. He oversimplifies Google’s approach somewhat (links still matter, but so do lots of other things) but his guidance, first as to the merits of SEO, and especially on how to get noticed, are pure gold.

If you’re building for the Web: Make it good. Make it useful. Make it fun. Make it human. Make it reasonably standards-based. Don’t waste your time with any person or organization whose title includes the words “search engine”. You’ll come out ahead.

[Digression: ] What Scoble has to say when he’s writing in his own voice is so much more interesting than the endless videos of lame startups that constitute most of his output these days. Wish he’d start writing again.



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From: CureDream (Dec 22 2009, at 11:33)

SEO does matter, although it's something that you can't paint on to an existing site, and I'd agree that the people who hang their shingle out with SEO services are losers.

(The real reason there is that most SEO client are losers... If you're good at SEO you can make more money doing SEO on your own sites)

When it comes to web standards, SEO is all about the unwritten web standards; just to take an example, I've got a VC-funded competitor who has 10,000 times the funding I do, but I've got 100 times the traffic and 100 times the revenue that they do.

Why?

Their web site is a "romulan cloaking device" that makes their content invisible to Google. They might be geniuses about the backend technology, but their frontend is a complete disaster.

A lot of times good SEO is just a matter of making a good site. The classic example of an "impossible" case is the local real estate agent.

Who's going to make a link to a real estate agent's sites? Nobody... I mean, who cares about some real estate agent?

Your average real estate agent wants to pay an SEO $500 who will then sprinkle pixie dust and spammy links around.

A good (effective) SEO will tell the real estate agent to spend one commission on a freelance writer; one commission is a handsome sum for several months of blogging. [And it also provides a lot of "deep link" targets for... uh, "content syndication"]

Your average real estate agent will stomp out and think making a blog is entirely beneath them, but the one who follows your advice will be the winner and the one who doesn't will be the loser.

That's the game.

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From: Derek K. Miller (Dec 22 2009, at 14:47)

I wrote an article about this years ago:

http://www.penmachine.com/techie/search_ranking_2004-08.html

My key point came as a response about selling sunglasses and shoes:

"I'd bet you could do better than paying some SEO firm by instead building a well-structured site, and then regularly posting useful articles about sunglasses and shoes. How do I find sunglasses or shoes that fit? What are the current trends in style? What if I have wide feet, or glasses keep falling down my nose? And how about super-detailed product specifications, with honest field-tested evaluations ("these 'hiking shoes' are fine for looking rugged in the city, but the soles are too slippery for real rock faces; try these other ones")?

"The thing is, attracting people to your site is less than half the battle. You need to keep them around and get them to do stuff (buy things, for example)--and if you've used subterfuge to bring them in, they'll figure it out and leave, or at least realize that there are 300 other, essentially interchangeable sites that also sell sunglasses or shoes and have done basic link-exchange SEO.

"On the other hand, if your site is unique because it actually helps people with useful information that only an expert can provide [...] I think they'd be more likely to buy from you. Even if you charge more than your less-useful competitors."

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From: Ben Hutchings (Dec 22 2009, at 18:01)

Danny Sullivan seemed to have a good counter-argument that there are plenty of non-evil and non-obvious techniques that fall under SEO: http://searchengineland.com/an-open-letter-to-derek-powazek-on-the-value-of-seo-27680

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From: Bilgehan (Dec 30 2009, at 14:13)

Google performance is not the same for every language. It sucks big time for queries of hot trends in Turkish and evil seo practice is awarded by google.

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