A blogger by the name of Derek Powazek recently ranted about how Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is “poisoning the web”, and that it “should not be undertaken by people with brains or souls”, which wasn’t a very nice thing for him to say.
Derek followed up his post with an FAQ, in which he offers an explanation (he’s stopped smoking) and a few clarifications. Both articles are worth reading, because they’re very entertaining and well-written.
Shockingly, as an SEO ‘expert’ with both a brain and a soul, I agree with most of Derek’s points. However, Derek has a bit of a problem with the semantics of SEO – what is and what isn’t part of the process. He confuses ‘SEO’ with ‘spamming’ – and his argument falls down because of this.
He states that the “one true way” of getting noticed online is this: “Make something great. Tell people about it. Do it again.” Easy to say – not necessarily easy to do.
If all our clients had a decade to spend becoming experts (as Derek suggests later), we really would go out of business. But they don’t: they want results now. Our clients don’t have the time to work on content and SEO. Good content is massively important to search engine results pages (SERPs). But good content is also very hard to create – and, crucially, time-consuming to create.
The crux of Derek’s hatred of SEO and all the “snake oil salesmen” who partake of it is this: that all the useful parts of SEO are “obvious” and therefore not worth paying for. If we try to sell you an SEO package, I’m therefore not selling you anything of value. But SEO still has a place: if we build you a web page that isn’t optimised, then we’re not doing our jobs right as developers. If we create content that isn’t optimised, then we’re not doing our jobs as content editors and writers.
Derek admits it himself: “Good SEO techniques are just good web development techniques”. I could reword that: good web development techniques must include good SEO.
If we talk about SEO with a client, we’re not talking about botnets and “zombie computers”. We’re talking about editing existing content and writing new content. We’re talking about building new web pages, and reworking the code behind existing pages. In short, we’re optimising all our web pages for search engines. If I had to pick a logical name for the process behind this… maybe Search Engine Optimisation?