Something I get asked a lot, particularly by non-tech savvy people is: “But isn’t doing search engine optimisation dodgy?”
People can get caught up in the “ethics” of “manipulating” the search engines. How’s that for inflammatory language? Sure there’s some manipulating involved, but search engines are machines, not people. Ethics doesn’t enter into the equation.
Search engine optimisation is about making sure the cream (the best websites) rises to the top. For my clients and me, there’s no point trying to get a crappy page ranked highly for particular search terms. If a searcher lands on a page, it’s got to be good enough and relevant enough that they take whatever action that page is geared towards.
Good SEO covers more than just getting a higher rank for specific keywords. It includes great usability and being very clear about the action you want your visitors to take on every single page.
Sometimes the desired action may involve buying something, but often the actions we want a searcher to take don’t involve the exchange of money. The action could be to:
- read a useful, informational article;
- contact us for a free quote;
- download an ebook for free or in exchange for their name and email address;
- participate in a survey;
- engage through social media;
- watch a video
or otherwise interact with the website in some way. If the searcher finds it valuable, then surely it cannot be spam.
A lot of SEO professionals are good, hardworking people, trying to make the web a better place. For us, ranking spammy web pages would be a complete waste of resources. With so much profitable work to do, why would we blow our budget trying to rank low value, irrelevant pages filled with ads? That’s what most people consider spam.
Search engines don’t pay for your kid’s college education. People do. By recognising that, a good online businessperson will create a page that’s of great value to a searcher, then do both onpage and offpage SEO to get that page in front of those searchers.
SEO isn’t evil. It’s simply a tool. Like email, it’s a tool that’s open to misuse and spamming, but a tool nonetheless.
But don’t take my word for it. Hit the play button on the video below and listen to what Matt Cutts, the guy in charge of Google’s anti-spam team, has to say about SEO and spam (hint: they don’t consider SEO to be spam, only the abuse of SEO).
- Google doesn’t consider SEO to be spam
- Make sure your pages are crawlable
- Use the right keywords. Words that your customers will use, not just industry jargon
- Improve your site’s design, useability and load speed
- Work on improving your return on investment by eg split testing
- “Black Hat SEO” is things like hacking sites, keyword stuffing or doing sneaky redirects
- Google’s goal is to return the best possible search results. A good search engine optimiser will work with Google to make that happen
- Until Google is as smart as a human (so, uh, never), SEO should be an important part of your online strategy
- Links to tools referenced in the video (will open in a new tab):