Search Engine Optimization Haters


This evening I was working with a client on how to tweak their blog posts for increased search engine traffic. It’s amazing how a small adjustment of a title, meta description, heading or the content itself can have. We selected a blog post previously written, made some minor adjustments, and will monitor the results using Authority Labs.

Many designers and web developers discount the value of search engine optimization. Interestingly enough, they lash out at SEO professionals. Derek Powazek recently wrote:

Search engine optimisation 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.

Do. Not. Trust. Them.

Ouch. I’ve been rather suspicious of SEO professionals as well… even speaking to the fact that much of what an SEO professional could do for you is possible to do by yourself. If you lack the knowledge, or you lack the resources, or you’re in a competitive search result, the SEO professional will make all the difference.

I should add that Derek’s post has some great advice, too:

Make something great. Tell people about it. Do it again. That’s it. Make something you believe in. Make it beautiful, confident, and real. Sweat every detail.

But then he loses me again…

If it’s not getting traffic, maybe it wasn’t good enough. Try again.

Maybe. Maybe? Maybe?!

Derek’s ideology is going to put his clients at a huge disadvantage. The problem isn’t SEO professionals, the problem is the search engines themselves. Trust your SEO professional, don’t trust your search engines! Don’t blame SEO professionals for Google’s weaknesses.

Google’s evolution of the search engine beyond keywords did little to help its accuracy… it just became a popularity engine… and continues to be heavily based on keywords.

Derek is wrong and a wee bit reckless… robots.txt, pings, sitemaps, page hierarchy, keyword usage… none of it is common sense. We help clients to achieve improved search engine ranking because it’s hard to work around the limitations of the search engine. A colleague of mine explains it this way:

SEO helps companies rank where they are supposed to rank.

Arguing that SEO is not a legitimate form of marketing is ignorant of the original 4 P’s… product, price, promotion and placement. Placement is the foundation of every great marketing campaign! Over 90% of every Internet session include someone making a search… if your client is not found on a relevant search result, you’re not doing your job. You can’t wish and hope for search engine placement, you need to work and… dare I say… sweat at it.

Building a functional web site with priceless information and a beautiful design and not optimizing it for search is the same as investing in a wonderful restaurant, designing a wonderful menu, and not caring where you open it. That’s not just ignorant, it’s irresponsible.

One comment

  1. 1

    Great post Doug – I agree with a lot of what Derek said, but then again, I work in this field. I don’t know his audience very well, but it appears he is writing toward readers with a bit of web publishing knowledge.

    The mistake I think a lot of people “in the know” make is that everyone else is “in the know.” If a a new marketing VP inherits a large corporate website that was built in 1999, they have a lot of other things to do than to go through the site building a report on what’s wrong, and they will need experts to help them wade through a lot of things: Usability, design, content, search, and the kitchen sink.

    There is a lot to be said about hiring an expert in what people are looking for to help you craft your presence and message to get to them. I agree with all of Derek’s negativity, and all of your positivity 🙂

    I am bit biased, though, as Derek’s post points a lot in Raidious’s direction – create good content, tell people about it, and make sure it can be found.

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