It is more honest to call SEO one of the following “letting tech people not use crap tech” or “content librarianship”. Any good search engine will return content that the user requested. Users want content, not vague marketing pitches. A good traditional librarian will ensure that all the books are present, that they are in good condition, and they are the current edition, that they are in the expected location on the shelves. Lastly that the books are books worth reading. Applying these same rules or conditions to websites makes them much more useful.
There are many websites which mostly contain marketing whoffle. Marketeers hyping to other marketeers is even worse, its incredibly vague, emotive and suggestive 1 2 3 4 5. For comparison developers hand out tools and libraries that others may use. The most valuable libraries automate things that you need to do really often, that are annoying, banal and dull (e.g. GIT).
Precise notes on SEO change all the time, but the big meta rule remains: make websites useful to users, and give them something that they want. Contrary to what various marketeers think, most net-users are not burdened too much money that they are unsure how to get rid of.
One could write suggestions such as: ensure pages load quickly, ensure they look OK on a variety of machines, ensure work with intermittent net connection, ensure they work if you are colour blind. [and so on.] I think this list is quite obvious. Basically users aren't sitting in front of a souped-up mac, with a second screen, and a 100MB net connection, in a decent office; they don't have your education, or good colour vision. They are sitting on the tube, on the end of their battery, exchanging an argument via SMS with their partner; before a big meeting. ...And also looking at your site. If your site is still useful in the real world, then you are good at SEO ~ yes this is what search engines are trying to measure. The previous sentence is focussed on use of the site, rather than discovery of the site; but the trip via google would need to work for any new visitors. Google are more likely to return sites that are technically useful to users.
Google inc is not the only place for information retrieval, but is is a highly prominent one. The actual market is more tangled than nieve analysis would indicate, as Google inc supplies search services for other search engines.
If you are not a marketeer, what Google say is generally common sense. They want to serve end-users results that work, are relevant, are current, and are correct (in the sense that if you say you sell Mondeos, you actually sell them). If you are a marketeer, Google are an elephant in the room, who keep changing the rules. Google keep blocking marketeers dragnets, as they weaken the search results. Marketeers do things like making-up blogs, to fill with “link juice” 8 for their own brands primary site 9. In less-marketeer-speak; link to the primary site, suggesting concepts about the primary site that may or may not be true.
About six months ago, Google released a few new editions of their search algorithm, the updates where called Penguin 10 11 and Panda 12 13 respectively. There many words written on marketing blogs about how this was going to disrupt many marketing schemes. Marketeers had apparently prematurely optimised to a particular piece of technology 14, and now needed to revert. Marketeers where not impressed 15 16 17 18.
Information retrieval was the research focus of my first degree, I could see that this an important trend. This is not quite the same as SEO. The rate of acquiring new information in computer systems increases every year. This is why we need good search tools. SEO is part of “search”, as far as well-built systems are more searchable. Search is more interesting to me, but not relevant to this article.
This guy keeps talking about SEO, what is he doing (...article starts to plod)?
- I have to many outbound links. I will not try to trap users on my site, as I only expect tech literate people to want to read it.
- I am clearly writing articles on defined subjects 19, not vague marketing hype. These are subjects that I know about, not vague opinion pieces.
- In theory I am linking back to my site on social media.
- The data structure is in clear English (e.g. the URL space, and internal links etc).
- The page content is the same if you don't read CSS or JS.
- I have lots of meta data (e.g. the human language, article summaries, descriptions etc).
- All the semantic tags are present, so parser may understand what the page is about.
- The following are less important, can are done quite simply.
- Most ~ if not all ~ of my internal links are annotated.
- As the markup is hand crafted, it is relatively small, and is readable.
- My site is perfectly readable on phones, tablets or desktop.
- I intend to build meta data caches, this can be used for high quality search, but I haven't had time.
- Marketeers would have a mailing list 20.
- I should engineer organic reach 21 via facebook as I am told this is where people get news from 22, but I don't have the time, and I not sure its worth the effort.
More Outbound links
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