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The Debates About SEO

Posted by on Sep 10, 2010

Search engine optimization is an interesting concept, one that I’ve been dealing with for almost 4 years now. It’s interesting because you never really know where discussions on the topic are going to take you, and often people love to disagree on things concerning different aspects of it.

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I recently wrote a guest post about this subject on another blog. My general premise is that people shouldn’t be stressing themselves out about using all sorts of SEO tactics when it comes to blogging because it’s better to make your content look smooth and sound seamless than it is to worry about too much of the SEO involved in trying to get people to your blog. In my view, you don’t totally throw out SEO, but don’t overly worry about it because, for blogs, it’s not as important as the breadth of your content if you’re a niche blogger.

Of course I encountered disagreements on the post, which I kind of expected, because there are many others who would say I was stark raving mad for saying that. However, I stood my ground. Based on research and real evidence, if you have at least 100 blog posts on a subject all the SEO sculpting in the world isn’t going to make a blog post stand out from any other in the search engines. Having a consistently good pattern of writing on your niche will work wonders, though.

An interesting way to show this is to look at this blog’s top 10 keywords from January of this year through August 31st for how people found this blog on search engines and see if the posts they might match up to were all that optimized. Here we go:

1. Cleavage – well, that’s still my most popular post for some reason, but in a post that was almost 1,350 words I used that one word less than .7%, even if it’s in the title.

2. Ultra Diamonds complaints – I wrote one post about this back in 2008 and I mentioned it twice, and not even in a row.

3. sensors quality management scam – I’ve never written a single post on this topic, and I have no idea what it even means. I wrote a post on secret shopper scams, and someone wrote that line in a comment.

4. forcefield.exe – mentioned once in a post I wrote about Zone Alarm.

5. do they still make zima – I wrote that comment once in a post on, well, Zima.

6. pdf my url – I wrote a post on this software, but I used the term “pdf” twice and “url” three times.

7. favorite classical pieces – I wrote a post on my favorite classical pieces, but I only used the phrase once, not including the title.

8. obsession with numbers – This is the first post where, as I look at it now, one could say I optimized it, although it certainly wasn’t intentional.

9. google desktop thunderbird – This one is also inadvertently optimized, and when I look at it, probably very well indeed.

10. mystery shoppers corp scam – once again this phrase doesn’t show up anywhere in the post I wrote on secret shoppers, and I have no idea where the word ‘corp’ comes from.

What’s my point? Out of my top 10 keywords, only two posts are actually optimized, and that occurred because of natural writing rather than any attempt to provide proper SEO to the posts. And the two posts that are optimized are #8 and #9 on my list; how do we explain the top 7?

As I said and will reiterate, I’m not saying that if you wish to take the time to do it that going through the process of optimizing your content might not be a worthy goal? What I’m saying is that, at least in my opinion, writing your content so that it makes sense to your readers, and eventually search engines, seems to work just as effectively if your topic in some way matches up to what people are looking for. At least for blogs; we can talk about websites another time, unless you read the article I just linked to. lol

Or I could be wrong… nah! 🙂

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Hi Mitch
I have read so many different views on this topic and not being technically minded at all; initially it was a bit scary. Didn’t know if I was keeping Google happy or not. When an experienced marketer told me to type in my keywords and there I was on Page 1 for my niche, I figured Google was happy and so was I!
I tend to write for my readers about what I am passionate about and because it is not a big niche the visitors are coming. Also cos it’s a blog, I think by building relationships with the blogging community I am also getting visits from them too.
Very interesting topic and I’m sure you will stimulate some interesting debate. I’m going to RT and see what that brings too.
Patricia Perth Australia

September 11th, 2010 | 12:45 AM

You write on a specific topic, Patricia, and you do mention lavender often in each of your posts. That will work well for you overall.

And we’ll see if this post gets any other commentary or not; sometimes you’d be surprised. lol

September 11th, 2010 | 12:53 AM

There can be multiple explanation about your odd ranking like: no competition for that keyword, incoming link to that post, the use of synonyms(google especially likes to favor results which have synonyms for the searched keyword),time spent on the main page and much more(you never know what big G is thinking of).
I do agree (as search engines do) that the content should not be written for search engines (repeating one keyword again and again and… again making the post have no sense at all) but for your visitors because you are not really in for SE traffic but for people to read what you write! Of course writing like crazy without anyone (including SEs) knowing about you wont bring you many visitors, also a website with a low reputation and authority can be outranked by a much popular website tags!
But as you said, writing constantly and high quality posts about a certain topic is bound to bring you some links for people who appreciate it! (and I think that is the best SEO and why search engine exist in the first place)
You need to find a balance between search engine optimization and high quality content which in my opinion will bring the best results, because optimization without content is nothing!
I could research your keywords in more detail and the posts too for more information but I am to tired now, I think I’ll go to sleep :))!

September 11th, 2010 | 4:40 AM

Thanks for your comments Alex. And don’t do any research on it, or we’ll have to call the doctors and report you’re ailing from “boredom sickness” lol.

September 11th, 2010 | 10:05 AM

The phrase “content is king” floats around a lot these days, and it is very true. You can spend a ton of money and time optimizing your site, but if you write bad content nobody is going to bother staying with your site.

The Google search algorithm is getting smarter and smarter. The developers at Google are continually developing new ways to make a site’s page rank based on the quality of the content and not based on technical SEO techniques (hence no more meta tags).

I’m sure that as time moves forward Google will be able to rank websites based on how a human would read them and not like a computer does. When that time comes (and it’s partly already here), the only way to stay on top will be to provide valuable content and to build a connection with readers so that they keep coming back.

September 11th, 2010 | 2:08 PM

That’s my thought, Keith. Not only that, but content helps to keep driving people to both websites and blogs, which is why I always say it’s king. I just hate seeing people stressing over trying to provide perfect SEO on everything they do; I think it starts explaining why some people start hating blogging, or at the very least don’t write as often as they might want to.

September 11th, 2010 | 4:53 PM

There are many good SEO practitioners but compared to those that don’t have a clue the number is small. I remember that few years ago, SEO was dirty word, just because you not receive what you pay for. I am SEO with 11 years of experience behind my back and I have work on more than 300 projects, about 295 are in Google top 10 for more than 50 keywords each. And I can tell you content is not the king always.

September 11th, 2010 | 7:55 PM

Very thought provoking…I started out stressing big time on these things.

Now I try to enjoy the experience rather than stressing, write what I know and/or feel and trust I will “get out there”.

September 13th, 2010 | 9:44 AM

That’s what it should be about, Carolee, the experience of blogging. Even if someone is looking to make money, copy needs to be compelling to get visitors engaged.

September 13th, 2010 | 3:47 PM

Hi Mitch, first I want to say how much I love your Read Speaker! It’s really ironic that I found this post because I a minute ago I tweeted this “I’m really bored with SEO today. Is anyone else? Keyword research is so dull…” HA!

I appreciate an SEO guy coming out and saying this and you just made my day. Thank you!

September 15th, 2010 | 5:17 AM

Ileane, I’ve got you covered! And I’m glad you like Read Speaker; isn’t it pretty neat, if monotone?

September 15th, 2010 | 8:03 AM

Content is king and even comments are counted as your content by google,so anything that helps your post should be allowed to comment. With more than 20k keywords for my blog per blog , When I see the awstats I get amazed by the long tail keywords which help me get vistors .
Why do you think there is a question n answers site by every top company,all just to create huge amount of content .

More content= more visitors from google.

September 17th, 2010 | 9:00 AM

First, welcome Bishwajeet. Second, I think you have a good point about the content aspect of it all. However, seeing as how some of these websites you visit have comments that are often scandalous at best, I think they need to reevaluate the types of comments they’re going to allow or set up better ways to get more information from those who want to comment no matter what. But it all adds up in the long run.

September 17th, 2010 | 2:20 PM

You could be wrong, but i find some of them myself; so doing seo is like searching for the holly grail

November 3rd, 2010 | 4:15 AM