Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Search Engine Optimization -- Bugaboo or Reality?

There is a constant background topic of concern among a vast number of those who have blogs and websites called Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Those who are the proponents of SEO are like the salesmen for any product, they tell you why you need it and what will happen if you don't do it, but ignore any reasoning to the contrary. Think insurance. When was the last time an insurance salesperson tried to explain to you why you don't need insurance?

The idea behind SEO is to drive your website or blog to the top of search engine searches. For example, choose a couple of recent blog article topics and search for them in Google. See if the blogs you read appear in the search returns. The question is why or why not? Proponents of SEO would have you believe that it is the "magic" words you put in your blog post or website post that "drives" the search engine to your website or blog. So, I should insert terms that will drive this site to top of a search by putting in free, rich, famous, giveaway, etc. etc. etc. at random places?

Let's get real. Here is the technical description of SEO from Wikipedia:Search engine optimization:
As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. Optimizing a website may involve editing its content and HTML and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. Promoting a site to increase the number of backlinks, or inbound links, is another SEO tactic.
How does this apply to a blog such as this one, where I am writing about different topics every day? Essentially what is done in SEO is to add specific key words to a site either on the site itself or in metadata attached to the site's pages. There are proven techniques that will increase you visibility, but when you get right down the it, the secret of high visibility is content or selling something people want. The basic fallicy of SEO is that if every website used the maximum SEO, none of them would change their ranking solely based on SEO. Face it, sites are going to become popular based on their content or desirable products.

SEO also conveniently ignores a basic fact of all search engines, the sites that come out on top in a search for products or services paid for the privilege of being on top. 

Where SEO works, is in a crowded buyers' market, for example, try searching for pizza. How may pizza restaurants are there in your area? Which ones come out on top? The ones that purchased ad space from Google.

But buried in the SEO techniques are some pretty good ideas. One of them is to use identifying words in your introductory paragraphs. For example if you are selling soap, mention soap right off, so anyone finding your site will know what it is about. What if what you are selling is kind-of vague, like knowledge or comments about genealogy? Hmm. In most cases you can just keep writing and hope someone reads your stuff.

I guess you have probably figured out that I don't put much stock in SEO. Well, that depends on what I am trying to do. If the content is good enough and well liked by the public who are interested in the subject, you might have an impact, but a well designed site probably has a greater impact than throwing in a few catchy terms. Another factor is updating the content. If you let the site sit there for days on end, you position in the search engines will plummet despite all the fancy catch phrases and words you might use.

If you are told you need SEO, be sure and find out who is making the recommendation.  Could it be a SEO company wanting to sell you their services? If you include enough facets of website and blog production in your definition of SEO, you can say just about anything about a site and have it improve its rankings.


  1. appreciation of your work! Thumbs up, and keep it going!

  2. Having a knowledge of good SEO techniques is helpful for both the website and the end user because it benefits both - a good website with good content should be found by people who need that info. But you really have to understand the basics to be seen by the search engines. You have to know what types of words people actually use when they search (note: they usually aren't the same words you would use!) The best resource that I have found for SEO is The owner has a great mix of intelligence, giving, and no-nonsense about her, and I learned all the best SEO techniques from that site.

  3. I think SEO is one of the best technique ever done for marketing. Some seo techniques are well-proven (many can say that, I know), and people nowadays are wise enough to maximize the use of the world wide web. To those using SEO, job well done.