Both Derek Powazek and Danny Sullivan Are Right About SEO

If you haven’t read the point counterpoint on search engine optimization by Derek Powazek and Danny Sullivan from this week, you should, that is if you’re into that sort of  thing like I am.

Like in most arguments they are both right and both wrong.  So I thought that I would pull what I thought are the right parts from each (editing out snarky bits as necessary) and then stand back so that Derek and Danny can shake hands sing kumbaya and see the good in each other’s ideas.

If you are remotely involved with a website or online marketing this should be hung on your wall in 60 point type.

It’s not your job to create content for Google. it’s their job to find the best of the web for their results. Your audience is your readers, not Google’s algorithm.

Make something great. Tell people about it. Do it again.  Make something you believe in. Make it beautiful, confident, and real. Sweat every detail. If it’s not getting traffic, maybe it wasn’t good enough. Try again. And again. You’ll build a reputation for doing good work, meaning what you say, and building trust.

It’ll take time. A lot of time. But it works. And it’s the only thing that does.

Tell people about it. Start with your friends. Send them a personal note – not an automated blast from a spam cannon. Post it to your Twitter feed, email list, personal blog. (Don’t have those things? Start them.) Tell people who give a shit – not strangers. Tell them why it matters to you. Find the places where your community congregates online and participate. Connect with them like a person, not a corporation. Engage. Be real.

Build a site for visitors. Have great content. These are the keys to success, not just with SEO but with anything you want to do.

The most important SEO tactics are obvious and easy:

Look under the hood of any SEO plan and you’ll find advice like this: make sure to use keywords in the headline, use proper formatting, provide summaries of the content, include links to relevant information. All of this is a good idea, and none of it is a secret. It’s so obvious…

Just because the most important SEO tactics are obvious doesn’t make it easy to everyone :

I know, I know — that’s so obvious. But it is NOT to him. His job isn’t to do web development. He’s not you or I with 14 years of having learned all this stuff along the way. He actually deals with things like ordering the products, overseeing workers and doing an array of offline marketing.

Meanwhile, his web developer clearly did NOT have any SEO thoughts in mind when building the site. That’s all too common…But the reality is that a good SEO working to help direct the web developer could solve the site’s problems quickly. It’s called teamwork, and it’s awesome when it happens.

The dark side of SEO is not worth the risk

Occasionally a darkside SEO master may find some loophole in the Google algorithm to exploit, which might actually lead to an increase in traffic. But that ill-gotten traffic gain won’t last long. Google changes the way it ranks its index monthly (if not more), so even if some SEO technique worked, and usually they don’t, it’ll last for a couple weeks, tops.

And when they do reindex, if they determine that you’ve been acting in bad faith (like hiding links or keywords or other deceptive practices) they’ll drop you like a hot rock. So a temporary gain may result in a lifetime ban.

In the end, you’re sacrificing your brand integrity in a Faustian bargain for an increase in traffic that won’t last the month. And how valuable was that increase, anyway? If you’re tricking people into visiting your site, those visits are going to be bad experiences.

But not all SEO experts are from the dark side

There are bad SEOs out there, who give the entire industry a bad name — just as there are bad bloggers, bad designers, bad cops, you name it. There are also excellent SEOs who work inside of companies as well as through agencies for hire. Don’t tarnish an entire industry that actually helps many, many people in ways I’m sure you would agree with.

If you want to read the source posts and comments (and if this has interested you at all you really should, it’s good stuff).  Here are the links and a tease of the more more snarky stuff there.

Spammers, Evildoers, and Opportunists

Search Engine Optimization is not a legitimate form of marketing. It should not be undertaken by people with brains or souls. If someone charges you for SEO, you have been conned.

An Open Letter To Derek Powazek On The Value Of SEO

If I wanted to be snarky, I could do an entire post on why web developers are a waste of time and you should just employ SEOs who can also build web sites.

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