Why I Don’t Care About SEO
A provocative title, but one necessary for the core statement behind this article. SEO, as it currently exists, needs to stop.
SEO has become a terribly abused buzzword. Clients are obsessed with it, yet they have absolutely no clue what it is. Designers cringe at its very mention, though they too are just as ignorant of the facts. The majority of the ‘professionals’—as they like to call themselves—have little background, training or even understanding of the logic behind search or web-based technology. They have simply jumped at the thought of a fascinating new sub-industry that the general public are clueless of and decided to exploit it while it’s young. That’s a fact.
It’s fair to say that I’m a rare case in that I have a background in interaction design and development but have also been working closely with search engineers for the majority of my career. That’s right—the guys that actually know what they’re doing, not the countless fake ‘gurus’, ‘ninjas’ or ‘experts’ that spam you on Twitter every other day.
I’ve seen the good, the bad and the incredibly ugly side of search. Every piece of markup I’ve written has had the search engines in mind, but never at the expense of the user, which leads me to the core topic of this article…
The whole practice of SEO is bullshit
Hey, someone had to say it, right? It’s not the concept that’s screwed, it’s the protocol. Optimising content to be search-friendly is a good habit to get into, it really is. It helps the big guys keep the Internet clean, organised and usable—that’s something we should all be working towards. The catch is that search engines are designed to structure human-readable content and they’re
getting pretty darn good at it too. My thoughts are obviously a web designer’s point-of-view, so I understand that everything we do should be for the user first and, really, that’s all there is to it.
From my experience, there are two contributing factors to a search-friendly product:
- good, readable content
- clean, semantic markup
Needless to say, I have enough proof to back up this theory. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but I honestly believe the ideal SEO is a hybrid copywriter and front-end developer. They’re a rare breed, but just think about that. Someone that designs content and makes it enjoyable to read yet also knows how to format it for the web—sounds appropriate, right? So why is it that search ‘optimisers’ generally either can’t write, can’t code, or both?
Almost every site I’ve worked on has reached a PageRank of 5 or higher over a relatively short period of time simply by following these two fundamental principles of producing and presenting good content for the web. You can’t fake good content and you can only exploit the search engines for so long before they and their users catch up to you.
Design for humans
When I say design, I mean it in the most literal sense. Whether you’re pushing pixels, carving coding, writing content or optimising any of the above, do it all for your human users. Do it so damned well that they love you for it. Do it so well that they send it on to their friends and colleagues. Do it so well that the search engines understand that you deserve credibility. You’ll be amazed with the results and you’ll be helping us all make the web a better place for it too.
Lastly, for science’s sake, let the search engines do their thing without trying to mess with or find loop-holes in their algorithms.
And that’s why I don’t care about SEO.
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