Art vs. Science

One of the hottest topics I find myself discussing with clients these days is Search Engine Optimization.  the reason for this is that the biggest challenge today, unless your name is Google, Yahoo, or MSN, is for people to be able to FIND your content.  Most trips to the web begin with a search of some sort so how your content bubbles up in natural search results (as opposed to paid ones) is important.  But I’m left with a weird feeling about it.You see, I always wonder about SEO since it seems to be as much about technical  knowledge as it does to be about marketing art.   Much of the literature on the field seems to encourage folks to spend more time figuring out how to beat the search engines‘ algorithms than to capture customers.

For example, I’m well aware that part of those algorithms takes into account cross linking – to whom you link, how many people link to you – it’s a measure of “authority”.  In theory this is fine except there are dozens of businesses who do nothing but set up sites you can pay to have link to you and to which you can link – beating the system but not really advancing your cause.  That doesn’t mean I’m against marketing on search engines through paid search but to me link building via those methods is like using the cheat codes.  It doesn’t really demonstrate a lot of gamer skill to do that nor does gaining linking that way show if what you’re creating has meaning and value to your audience.  I get keyword packing too but again, writing for the sake of keywords while abandoning your audience is dumb.

I believe that making your content meaningful is the best form of SEO.  Sure, do the technical stuff too but a marketing plan that’s all about fooling technology isn’t really a marketing plan, is it?  We can have the “ends justifying the means” discussion but at the end of the day great content, with a dash of smart SEO, will beat crap, even if it has the best SEO, over time.

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Filed under Consulting, digital media, Helpful Hints, Reality checks

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