What SEO Isn’t

18 Nov 2009, Posted by admin in Featured,Nohat, 9 Comments

What SEO Isn’t

There appears to be a big difference between what SEOs think search engine optimisation is, compared to what most regular web developers and site owners think it is. A huge difference, and it tends to make us look bad.

Malcolm Coles recently brought this point home in his excellent Econsultancy post about the Mirror’s 3am site making a bit of a hash of their SEO. Malcolm also mentioned an earlier article from which had an interesting quote from one of the developers on the 3am site:

“We want this site to perform well over a period of time. Not live or die by how many times we can write Britney Spears or Michael Jackson into the metadata”.

And that’s a problem – if that’s genuinely what a lot of web developers think us SEOs do, then it doesn’t look good on us. If they think that our jobs involve shoving the keywords into the meta data and then hoping it works then it’s no wonder that there’s an “SEO sucks” drama post every other week.

And in truth, part of this problem is because of the sheer amount of misinformation out there (check out some of the biggest SEO myths as proof). Have a look at this terrible, terrible SEO article from Some of the bad advice it gives is “don’t make small changes to your content”, “duplicate content is for spammers and could get you banned” and my personal favourite “don’t link to and from the same site repeatedly – this is known as link spamming”. (Sorry Malcolm).

SEO isn’t about stuffing your pages with keywords and it’s not about worrying about linking to the same sites often or deliberately not making changes to your content. We know this – it comes naturally to us as SEOs, but it’s surprising to see that other people do believe it.

SEO mainly comes down to 3 things – making your site accessible to search engines as well as users, making sure the content is relevant and then making your site as popular as it can be. Most non-SEOs don’t know about the importance of that last point.

Flickr image from Phillustration

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November 18, 2009 12:48 pm

Peter Handley

So true, SEO misinformation seems to be easier to find sometimes than the good stuff. Requires filtering and testing lots of information and theories to find what what works – not just “how many times we can write Britney Spears or Michael Jackson into the metadata”

November 18, 2009 1:22 pm

Dean Cruddace

If only Britney knew her true potential πŸ˜‰ <== bad joke.

I have to agree there is a lot of misinformation out there and as an seo`s we have to constantly analyze and adapt but big brand followers will always take their word as gospel without researching, maybe there is a minority that will go on to research further but on the whole i agree, too much misinformation.

November 18, 2009 1:32 pm


Bang on the money. I think that perception will always lag reality – in the same way that some people will just equate “marketing” with “douchebags wearing square glasses” regardless how successful marketing campaigns are.

Of course, for SEO there is so much legacy information still kicking around that we’ll never get from under it. Best just to suck it up and crack on…

November 18, 2009 11:15 pm


Cheers guys, you’re probably right Paul – there’s not a lot we can do about it, I guess. πŸ™

November 19, 2009 3:39 pm


I know what you mean Malcolm, I’ve never tested it but I’d be surprised if it tripped any kind of filter – I bet that sort of link distribution happens all the time, it’s probably quite natural in most cases. More natural than giving a free paid link to your mum, I guess πŸ™‚

November 19, 2009 3:26 pm

malcolm coles

Spammer πŸ˜‰ you’ll be linking to my mum for no money next.

On “don’t link to and from the same site repeatedly – this is known as link spamming”, this brought to mind the video Matt Cutts has just released – the one about whether it’s a good idea to link to every press mention of yourself or whether this will look like reciprocal links and lead to a penalty.

Video is here: but he doesn’t really answer the question.

Has anyone any experience of this? I want to link to a bunch of people who took part in my cervical cancer jab campaign:

Problem is, they all link to the same NHS page. Do you think this will trip any sort of filter (ie I link to 50 pages, all 50 of those pages link to one other page)?

I can see why it would look suspiscious. Or am I embuing google with too much insight?

November 20, 2009 8:45 pm

SEO Up Here in Toronto

Like most very successful online business, SEO has so much misinformation because the really good SEO’s don’t share their secrets so widely, it is the spammers and ‘fake’ SEO’s that offer ‘Dick and Jane’s Link Pyramid’ scheme that brag the most.

December 1, 2009 9:12 am


Your summary of “SEO mainly comes down to 3 things” at the end is great, I’ve never read what SEO really is explained so clearly in language that everyone can understand!

December 31, 2009 8:15 am


Great explanation of what SEO really is! I’ve been doing some extensive research on SEO and search marketing local, and I have found some very useless information amongst my search. But, I will say I have found a keeper on this one! Thanks for such great content!

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