Search Engine Optimization- it’s the art of making sure your blog or website’s content is displayed at or near the top of relevant phrases people type into search engines like Google and Yahoo. There are a lot of people selling SEO expertise.
And it’s a complete waste of money.
The SEO idea is simple- you can format your website and writings in a way that will take advantage of the methods search engines use to index your site. In theory, it’s a great idea. You can get your content to the top of search engines with a little creative hocus-pocus.
Here’s the problem. Search engines don’t explain how their engines actually index sites. The experts make an educated guess. In most cases, they’re pretty good.
So what’s the problem with that?
Search engines change their formulas.
If you design your site to rely on SEO, you’ll need to change every time the search engines change. Which will require the experts. Again. You end up playing an endless game of playing catch-up, which can be costly.
The more significant problem- people that rely on SEO usually look at the actual content as secondary. When the content is not your top priority, you’re probably producing crap content. You’re short-changing the people that follow the search engine results to your site.
The Better Idea
Write awesome content that people want to read and share with their friends.
That’s it. That’s the secret.
Every post should serve one of three purposes- inspire people, educate people, or entertain people. If at least a few people are touched by the post, they will share the link with someone. Some of those people will share it, too. And so on.
Some of those people will become regular readers that will share new posts. And so it grows. This is the single best way to get your ideas out there. I like to call it organic growth. Your blog or website is growing because the ideas resonate with people.
I call SEO synthetic growth. It’s a form of trickery that is often substituted for useful content. Not surprisingly, the people that tend to rely on SEO are usually trying to maximize their traffic for monetary reasons, not write content that makes a difference.
It is possible to combine the two, but make sure the content always comes first. Personally, I completely ignore SEO. It forces me to make sure my content is the best possible content I can produce. I know I can’t rely on shortcuts.
Like many things in life, it’s easy to get stuff once we stop seeking it out. By ignoring SEO, my content tends to do pretty well in search result because I have to earn it. Crappy content bombs, and I produce quite a few turds. But it teaches me what content my community wants, which ultimately produces much better writing.
What are your thoughts? Do you pay attention to SEO? Do you PAY for SEO? If so, do you think it affects your content?