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SEO Is A “Practice” Like Medicine, Not A Science

Posted by on Nov 1, 2010

Every Wednesday on Twitter there’s something that goes on that originated here in the Syracuse area. It’s called Community Manager Chat, and it’s actually geared towards people who handle the social media processes at their particular companies, or for someone else. I get to be a part of it because social media is my thing, or at least a big part of my thing. If you ever decide to participate it’s at 2PM Eastern time, and you use the hashtag #cmgrchat to follow along.

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Last Wednesday the topic of discussion was blogging, which y’all know I thrive on. It was actually the second week on the topic because it seemed like it was very popular and there were so many questions being asked. I answered a bunch of questions, and on that day and the day after I got a bunch of new followers; I could see that a lot of people were interested in what I had to share.

Anyway, what happens is that one of the moderators throws out a question every 15 minutes or so, then the responses fly out. One of the questions asked what people did for SEO on their blogs. I stated that my SEO strategies are to write as much content as I can and to, for the most part, write about certain types of topics more often than going off the grid. I actually do that if you check my centennial stat posts from time to time.

As normal, there were a few people who went into the direction of having to not only write niche blogs, but to make sure to stuff your posts with keywords and keyword phrases so they could be found easier on the search engines. I read that stuff all the time and for the most part I think it’s garbage. After all, if I write 100 posts on roses and suddenly decide to stuff a post with the phrase “brown picture frames”, it’s not really going to mean anything to anyone, including the search engines. Those 100 posts on roses are going to fare way better.

After seeing some of those posts, I wrote the line that this post is based on: SEO is a “practice” like medicine, not a science. It got retweeted a bunch of times; I think people liked that phrase a lot.

And of course I believe it’s true. There are a lot of great SEO practices, which I’ve even talked about on this blog, but the truth is that not every website is going to end up on the first page of Google or any other search engine just because one’s site is optimized well. If you decided today that your goal was to be in the top 10 for the term “shoes” you probably won’t have a chance unless you can produce close to 900 pages of blog posts in a year or so. That’s because there are so many people already writing on that same topic that have beaten you to the punch. You can get creative to find your little niche in that group and that might put you on the first page; otherwise, you just need to be the best you can be and hope to compete in another way.

SEO is like medicine because it’s really a guessing game after a certain point. Doctors guess all the time as to what’s wrong with us. I bet every person who reads this post knows someone who had a doctor tell them “I don’t know what’s wrong with you,” or something to that effect. I’ve heard it myself. And these people go to school for 8 years, then do 2 or 4 years of clinical before they’re allowed to be out on their own; I don’t know anyone who’s truly been doing SEO for more than 7 years or so.

Does this mean one shouldn’t try to be as effective as possible in trying to get their blogs to perform well on the search engines? Absolutely not. What it does mean is that one shouldn’t kill themselves trying to write the perfectly optimized post every time out. To me, based on history, one gets way more juice by trying to put out as much good content as they can. That’s always my goal when I decide to write a post, no matter what the topic is on.

Trust me, there’s really nothing wrong with practicing; you might not end up being a concert pianist like Andre Watts, but you could be Liberace, and he made a lot of money in his lifetime.

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Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing:

Exactly how/why I came to the conclusion I did. I’ve given up on personally trying to SEO; until further notice.

I am going to write. When I can consistently afford it, I will be outsourcing my SEO, with the proviso; you do not screw with my “voice”. 🙂

November 1st, 2010 | 10:27 AM

There you go Dennis. I mean, when you visit some posts you can just tell, right?

November 1st, 2010 | 11:20 AM
Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing:


November 1st, 2010 | 2:53 PM

What can I say Mitch, I agree with you partially 🙂 Writing good content and posting frequently is indeed the most important part of getting noticed and it is also true for search engines. What many people don’t realize is that this practice in itself is in a way SEO. Take Patricia as an example. She writes about “Lavender” and only writes about it. Needless to say that eventually her website will get ranked well as long as she continues to follow that process.

On a side note, if you follow this best practice and at the same time, juice it up with some SEO tactics then your chances are far greater, specially if your competitor does not do it.

November 1st, 2010 | 11:43 AM

DiTesco, I have to say that I don’t see anyone as a competitor, just someone who might do some of what I do. At least in general terms. I know that I have to compete against someone in trying to get contracts and the like here and there, but it’s not the person I’m competing against as much as the expectations of the person who’s put the contract up for bid in the first place.

When it comes to blogging, I want to be high on people’s list, but I don’t have any particular people I’m trying to target. I will say that I’m not sure one can write as much and as often as I do in so many places and take time for tons of SEO work. Now, when I’m working on a website, that’s a different animal. But I’ll take my 300 posts a year compared to someone else’s 50 posts a year any day of the week.

November 1st, 2010 | 5:12 PM

Hi Mitch
I write for my readers. So many people spend so much time worrying about SEO and they still aren’t getting the rankings. Read any blog posts about SEO and see what is put about that is “expert” advice! I agree with you. Far better to be yourself and write great content. I also think it helps if I am consistent in publishing my posts and backlinks help too 🙂 Thanks for sharing.
Patricia Perth Australia

November 1st, 2010 | 10:45 AM

Thanks for your comment Pat. I mean, with what you write about, there’s no way just writing about your topic isn’t SEO enough.

November 1st, 2010 | 11:21 AM

I agree with you Mitch – there are no competitors, there’s only colleagues.

If someone is in the same space as you, become their affiliate and vice versa!

And always make certain to ensure your site is memorable enough people want to return again and again. That’s far more valuable than short term SEO.

November 1st, 2010 | 5:22 PM

Thanks Barb. I certainly do try to be memorable and diverse, yet still try to help when I can. I’ve noticed the different direction in your blogging as well over the past couple of years.

November 1st, 2010 | 9:08 PM

I have been thinking about getting an SEO expert to help with my marketing, Mitch. But, I have been procrastinating about it. Then, I read your post and I am glad that I procrastinated, because your thoughts about SEO and mine are along the same lines. Although I am concerned about using some keywords, I more concerned about writing good content. Ranking may be important, but providing information to my target audience is more vital for me.

November 1st, 2010 | 10:37 PM

Well Wes, most of what I’m talking about here has to do with blogging. With websites, SEO is a definite, and having a social media strategy as well can only help in the long run. I don’t want to be misunderstood; SEO is always a good thing. But working hard to get it right at the expense of content, in my opinion, makes no sense.

November 1st, 2010 | 11:50 PM

Sorry for not mentioning it, but I was also supposed to refer to blogging in my comment, Mitch. And I totally agree with not compromising my content with too much SEO.

November 2nd, 2010 | 9:35 PM

You know what I think of SEO Mitch, it’s a necessity if you want to succeed but I don’t let it spoil my blogging experience.

I reckon I will tweet something along the same lines and see what reaction I get.

November 1st, 2010 | 11:35 PM

Hey, retweet this one and let’s spread the word! lol

November 1st, 2010 | 11:50 PM

Done. 🙂

November 2nd, 2010 | 12:11 AM

SEO is definitely a science. It’s just a science that only Google fully understands. So “the rest of us” flounder around trying to reverse engineer the algorithms given the results we’re getting.

No, we don’t know everything, but we certainly know ENOUGH to create “better” posts — as far as the search engines are concerned. I say it’s well worth the time and effort.

November 2nd, 2010 | 4:05 AM

Hi Alison; thanks for your comment. Actually, you kind of proved my point. We don’t know everything, but we know enough, just like doctors don’t know everything but they know enough. I think there’s a major difference between websites and blogs; I’ve done testing and written about it in past posts on this blog. I can affect a website within a couple of weeks with just a few changes; with a blog, especially one with a lot of posts like this one, I can’t really change a thing that’s going to make a quick impact.

However, what I have noticed is that I get a lot more readers and visitors if I write a lot more, no matter what I write about. Is that SEO or is that content? To me, it’s content, and that’s what I concentrate on more here. Doesn’t mean there’s no place for SEO, of course, but it does mean I don’t worry about it as often and I’ll still be found on search engines, at least according to Analytics.

November 2nd, 2010 | 9:50 AM

LOL- some people do get obsessed with SEO…..

I have too much going on to get too caught up in that, although I do try to make sure I have some good plug-in’s like All in one SEO pack.

November 2nd, 2010 | 6:21 AM

Carolee, I use that plugin as well, but I’m not sure if it’s really helping or not. Still, it’s there, though I use it more often for my business blog than I do for this one.

November 2nd, 2010 | 9:51 AM

I think that the best thing to do is to write good quality content..but also build your site for the visitor, and not for the search engines.

November 2nd, 2010 | 3:23 PM

I’m with you on that one, Stephan. I think that’s the type of thing that keeps people coming back; at least I hope so.

November 2nd, 2010 | 9:28 PM

I agree with you, SEO is some what trail and error and it is nothing that we can totally boast about knowing. An SEO method that works in one point of type may not work in the other. I think it is content that is the main thing

November 3rd, 2010 | 1:16 AM

Thanks Shiva. I’m big on content, as you know, but I hope no one thinks I’m saying there’s no place for SEO, because there is.

November 3rd, 2010 | 1:27 AM

Blogs used to have a lot of power and were prefer by Google about 7-8 months ago. After that Google slow down indexing blogs that fast, I guess because the number is constantly growing. Actually everything is possible in SEO, it doesn’t matter how competitive keywords is, a website can appear in top 10 results. It just need time and a lot of work.

November 3rd, 2010 | 5:40 AM

People usually forgot the important thing is to take action. They read a couple of seo ebooks out there without even testing what they’ve read.

November 7th, 2010 | 4:10 AM

I’d agree with this, TK, except I think most people read a couple of blogs rather than the books. To tell the truth, I don’t know that I’ve seen a lot of books on the subject; even my little book only touches upon it a little bit.

November 7th, 2010 | 6:04 AM

Greetings Mitch. Although this is bit older post, don’t know if you’d like to hear comments about it but i liked the way you treat SEO and it’s so true. Even Newer sites can be a practive like “herbal medicine!” which may show real effect months after efforts. One need lots of patience.

December 8th, 2010 | 4:28 AM

Thanks Joel, and welcome. True, SEO has so many different ways it can go that no one is ever really certain how they achieve things. Well, we know how to get a site to rank higher, but to get it over the top, into the top 10 every time… just doesn’t happen.

December 8th, 2010 | 9:18 AM

From my experience I can tell you that SEO is science, it takes more than practice to be good at it and you often have to rely on your wits..

August 28th, 2011 | 4:44 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Steph, what science are you using for SEO? What experiments have you conducted that have produced something that works perfectly every single time? Have you produced papers on this that other scientists can study and comment on? If it’s a science that’s what one does. If it’s a practice, then one takes everything they’ve learned and they try to get it as close to correct as possible, knowing that, as you said, they might have to rely on their wits. What you described is practice, not science I’m sorry to say.

August 28th, 2011 | 1:29 PM

I agree. SEO is a practice and not an exact science. Nobody knows the exact “Formula” to apply on a website to be successful. All it takes is practice. And time, of course.

May 13th, 2012 | 2:45 PM

True Ned; best we can be is pretty good, but never perfect.

May 14th, 2012 | 1:14 AM