A slightly contentious blog this week, but hey, it's all about opinions. This is mine about SEO....
Hands up who remembers the Y2K ‘problem’, or the Millennium bug, as it was sometimes known? I do, as I had several clients who made a lot of money out of placing contractors into the City to ward off the Y2 evil that was set to haunt companies that didn’t prepare for midnight on 31/12/.99. Without corrective action, it was suggested, long-working systems would break down when the 97, 98, 99, 00 ascending numbering assumption suddenly became invalid. Thousands of companies worldwide panicked and upgraded their computer systems.
And what happened that fateful day just over ten years ago? Not one globally significant computer failure occurred when the clocks ticked into 2000. Some say the fact there were no major incidents is vindication of the Y2K preparation organisations invested in. Others questioned whether the absence of computer failures was the result of the investment in upgrades or whether those with a finger in the Y2K panic pie had overplayed the reality of the problem.
And now there’s SEO to panic about.
It may have been around ten years, but I continue to miss the point where SEO is concerned. In my book, copy, if well written, automatically contains keywords aplenty. Plus, all the talk about SEO assumes that organisations do nothing but put their website up and keep their fingers crossed rather than driving traffic to their site through other means such as advertising and marketing campaigns.
As it stands, taken at face value, to me who still doesn’t get the entire furore about SEO, the gurus would have us believe that unless you play by the SEO rules you’re heading for a life of terminal online misery. That the organisation that gets SEO right will prosper, even if they are not actually the best at what they do as a business. That it’s about being on the first search results page or you’re toast, out of here, history (even though in any industry there will always be hundreds, possibly thousands of companies competing for a top ten spot).
To me though SEO is a bit like Y2K – lots of expert advice from those involved in it, with the threat that if you don’t invest in it you’re screwed. Put simply, ignore it at your peril. Yet, as I outlined above, what real impact did the Y2K problem have? What actually happened that fateful night back in 1999? Lots of people made lots of money in the run up to it, sure, but the catastrophe didn’t actually transpire. So if businesses ignore SEO are they destined to fail, no matter how good their product and advertising/marketing strategy? Hmmmm.
In my humble opinion, if the web has one downside it is SEO and the need for it. I was writing content for a client the other day who told me that his technical people can put a lot of the search terms underneath the surface of the site so I need not worry about trying to cram a certain word into a sentence or paragraph numerous times in order to get him up the charts. I really hope that this is something that will become the norm and that us writers can focus on telling the best story rather than having sleepless nights worrying about whether we have included enough keywords. And again, let's not forget that only a fool would rely solely on Google search results to market their business.
As I have commented elsewhere in the past, imagine if the greatest writers in history were inhibited by the need to get enough ‘verily’ , ‘foresooths’ or ‘thees’ in a sentence or paragraph. "Will mate, if you don't play SEO ball, you won't be putting on plays, you'll be selling ocelots noses and badgers spleens to the audience in the interval".
In short, thank God the web and SEO wasn't around back then. That Shakespeare would have looked a right twat! (PS - Bacon wrote them anyway!)