Smack! The Search Engine Attention You Deserve
The debate over the importance of SEO (search engine optimization) is ongoing, and there are many-myself included-that have pointed out how it is used improperly.
Google hates it being used thus, because effectively its search crawlers are being tricked into thinking a page is more relevant than it may actually be. This, as mentioned before, is why Google updates its algorithms so regularly to counteract "cheaters".
The Other Side Of The SEO Coin
Rather than focus only on the negative aspects of SEO, I would be remiss in not pointing out why it's useful. Beyond the obvious, of course. (Hey, I want to be on the first page!)
How many sites have posted great content that goes largely unnoticed? It happens all the time. Have you ever done a search for something and found the same information, clearly copy/pasted, on result after result on poorly formatted pages? Some of these may even have spammy ads or even pop ups.
"Doesn't anyone have anything original to say without all the garbage?" you may find yourself asking.
In these cases, think of SEO as an opportunity to demand attention where it is deserved. If a page is legitimately useful and well formatted, it has every reason to appear in the top results. If it's not already an insanely popular website with tons of back links and such, however, this may not happen. In this example the post being search engine optimized isn't so much fooling Google as it is smacking Google and grabbing attention.
Think of it like being the soft-spoken kid in class being drowned out in the yammering of much louder (and often less talented) classmates. You need to do something to get your teacher's attention. SMACK! "Whoa, Timmy, whatcha got?" says the teacher suddenly.
Great Content Is Enough, Right?
Partially true. A lot of successful folks on the web purport that by focusing on strong, meaningful content you can dominate the searches. Indirectly, useful content stands a higher chance of attaining comments and back links, which helps with ranking. Higher probability. Not guaranteed.
Well-written content, from a literary aspect, will not automatically attract visitors by climbing search engine rankings.
A Keyword Balancing Act
Proper SEO combines a solid use of keywords with interesting copy. The mistake that far too many SEO companies/writers make is focusing completely on keyword saturation and not on making the actual content worth reading.
I wish I could say that keyword stuffing doesn't work. I know "they" say it doesn't and it hurts your Google ranking. Yet far too often I perform searches and get results of pages loaded down with keywords and no real information. They're on page 1, above many other sites that didn't stoop to this low. Don't do it. It may get people to your site; it won't keep them there.
As I often explain to clients when they ask why a copywriter is important, spending money on web campaigns and such is important. You did spend good money having your pretty website built, after all. Why wouldn't you want to market it and get viewers? True, but if it's poorly written or laid out, viewers may reach for their "back" button.
They found your site through your marketing efforts. Great. Now what are you going to offer them now that they're here?
You might be a doctor with a lot of great knowledge to share, but if it reads like a medical text I guarantee no one but you will want to read it.
A solid use of keywords, headings, and titles is important. Just remember not to do so at the expense of accessibility.
About the Author: Brian C Watkins has a background in online media as a copywriter, and works with business websites contributing content and organizing features. You can view his blog here: http://dreaminginabstract.com.