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Website Owners Go On Using SEO For The Same Reason Your Grandma Still Uses AOL

Date/Time Permalink: 12/05/12 02:50:52 pm
Category: General

Allow me to put on my freelancer's hat for a minute and talk about something not only relevant to technology, but to my business as an online content creator...

A little while back, Forbes took notice of the tech entrepreneur world with an article on the "death" of SEO.

Every word in that article is spot-on, dead accurate, worthy of being proclaimed from the rooftops. Except the title. Because, contrary to all common sense, SEO, like a Lovecraft Eldritch multi-dimensional horror, will never die.

I've pointed out many times that the very premise of SEO is to game search engines, and search engines exist to find genuine content, not "optimized" content. So the very minute you start thinking of SEO for your website, you're beginning a war with the Internet, trying to steal their time redirecting them from the content they wanted to the sales-pages you want them to see. There is no such thing as "white hat SEO". It's like saying you're practicing "legal tax evasion".

"Common sense, but not common practice" indeed. Note the footer of that article where a hundred SEO cranks post flames back at the author and he caves a little, because Forbes is still a business with face to save, after all.

But I stand by every word of that article as originally envisioned, even if he doesn't. There are no "bad parts" to SEO. It is all bad, 100.1% of it. The Venn diagram is shaped like a circle.

That's why I never take any job offer for producing content for anybody who so much as mentions SEO or any of the associated buzzwords: "keywords", "SERP", "density", "meta tags", "backlinks", "landing page", and so on. Not for any amount of money, not for sexual favors from Hollywood starlets, would I do this. I'm too stinking proud, and besides, the kind of wingnut crank who blathers on about this meta-tag voodoo and keyword-density astrology is the kind of person of low morals and little sense who will attempt to cheat me out of pay, argue with me about every little detail, and expect a thousand times the effort of what they'd be paying me.

What I will do is produce organic content that I think actual humans beings at least might want to read. And then if that content has a business link next to it for an associated product or service, well, so be it, that's how the web should work.

SEO is the belief that you can reverse-engineer and "hack" a search engine using only the text on your webpage, causing said engine to magically send all the visitors to you no matter what they type. It's a kind of irrecoverable brain damage. There's a whole cult of it out there. Everybody wants one thing: To be the first result on Google. Now, how many people want that? How many number-one spots on Google are there? What does common sense tell you will happen to the 999,000 people who didn't make page one?

Now, let's logically ask ourselves, "Why do people come back to a search engine?" Why, because it gives them RELEVANT, USEFUL CONTENT, does it not? So what if you "win" your SEO game and redirect Google traffic to your one-page sales-letter full of boilerplate marketing copy? Users will quit using Google and switch to a different search engine. After all, any search engine which was so easily gamed would be a poor quality search engine and users would abandon it. So, the objective, the true, root goal of all SEO is to put Google out of business. You, with your $3/month GoDaddy domain and pirated 1996 copy of FrontPage Express.

What could possibly go wrong with your simple business plan?

Let's take a famously iconic contested keyword: "mesothelioma". It's an incurable lung disease caused by inhaling hazardous substances on the job (I've worked construction jobs and at a power plant so I have a touch of it myself, cough cough cough), which leads to a lot of top-dollar workman's comp cases and legal settlements. Hence, it's a cash cow for ambulance chasers. SEO wonks have been trying to rank #1 for this word ever since 1997 when Google first launched.

So, after 15 years of "progress" in the SEO industry, where does the search result page for this coveted keyword stand right now?

The #1 spot is the Wikipedia entry.

The #2 spot is a domain with the same name, a commercial enterprise.

The #3 spot is the US government's own National Institute of Health site.

The #4 spot is the Mayo clinic.

None of these are the result of SEO tactics, but genuine content produced to inform first. Two of them are even non-profit public services. What does this tell you about the effectiveness of SEO vs. being an actual credible source on the subject? But go to any freelance job-posting site on the web and search for that keyword. Pages and pages of keyword-crankers, all offering the lordly sum of about $2 if only someone will help them get their spam site to come out on top of Wikipedia, the Mayo clinic, and the US government.

You'll find this over and over again. These idiots clog the web with their search-spam, never winning, and never learning. It's a brain disease. Just like with any superstition, you can't drive any common sense into their heads about how search engines actually work. They have charts! They have keyword density formulas! They have magic meta-tag spells! "If we jack these secondary-related search phrases into our keyword probability matrix times our nofollow-tag formula and our backlink farm sends stealth links from the dark web, we get a 2.3657680012% keyword density substrate for our article-spinner."

These cranks will never die. They will never learn. They're flakes. Not just some of them or the "black hat" ones, but all of them.

Anybody out there thinking of using a website as part of a business strategy? Stay away from SEO. Google hates it. Forbes hates it. Internet users, your presumed customers, hate it the most of all. SEO, like alchemy and Orgone and flying saucers, is every kind of wrong it can be. It's broken, it's stupid, and it doesn't work.

Come at me, bro!

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