Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Only Fools and SEO Operatives

I used to work, to some degree, in IT, running an e-commerce website. It was one of those jobs where you end up doing a bit of everything, for cost and time reasons. Good fun, and I like to think I did it well, but finding any jobs in that sector without lots of specific experience in one area has proved difficult, to say the least. The age of the enthusiastic amateur is over, when it comes to jobs in the Irish web sector at least. Which is a pity, because I like food and shelter.

One web area that I've noticed continues to be a big deal is SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, for those of you mercifully ignorant of the jargon. SEO operatives (a hopeful noun, if ever there was one) are in the business of helping your site rise up the search rankings, thus making you rich beyond your wildest dreams...

Most businesses looking to get online have no real understanding of what SEO is, so an 'operative' can more or less tell them any old thing. It's the 1920's seance of modern advertising. To sell your SEO skills is to imply that you can game the system in such a way that your clients can outwit Google, Bing and Yahoo. You can't. It's a fiction that people want to believe, and are happy to pay for, even now, it seems. It's incredibly hard to trick Google. If, somehow, you do (far easier six years ago than now), it will discover the trick and punish you. There are many hundreds of clever people at Google, working every day to make it harder to outwit the system. Which also begs the question: what is the point of pursuing such a strategy? The time necessary to outthink Google is time taken away from making your site worth visiting in the first place and you'll forever be like Trotsky, wandering the internet with one eye over your shoulder, wondering when the ice pick is going to descend.

All this occurred to me as I read this great post, which I heartily recommend if for some tragic reason, you find yourself anywhere near this world, or heaven help you, are presented with an SEO report.

If you want to have a site people go to, you must do the following:

1. Make a good site

2. Format it correctly

3. Submit relevant keywords

4. Keep generating content

5. Try not to be evil

- Please do bear in mind that should we meet and I announce I too, am now a SEO operative, all this was youthful exuberance and not to be taken seriously...

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Welcome to my blog. I'm a freelance writer/journalist/researcher/editor. I write about education and ideas I've had for the Irish Times. I also research, write and edit for writers, publications and websites. Here I put things that tend not to fit anywhere else. Enjoy.

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