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Strategic insights
Search Engine Optimization - Just forget it

Written by on July 12, 2006

Also available in Spanish

How do you get a high ranking on search engines? Well, here is a story of how you don't.

A friend of mine runs an online shop, one of those you can buy ready-made. Just add your products and you are off. Her site is very popular and things are going well. Then one day, the hosting company offered her a "search engine optimization pack". Pay $3 a month, and get a high ranking on sites like Google. She took it, thinking that was a good deal.

But, after 6 months Google sent her an email to notify her that her site had been banned from their index. They had notice that she was using doorway pages (page that only the search engine sees - containing a lot of key phrases).

What she got was not a "$3/months SEO pack", but a "$3 get-me-banned-from-any-search-engine pack".

So here is my advice to you. If you are considering improving you ranking - Just don't. It always hurts you in the long run.

Hey! What about the good SEO companies?

Easy, none exists. The entire concept of good SEO companies is a hoax. The point of search engine optimization is purely to make you site look better than it really is. No matter how you look at this, to a search engine that is cheating. They do not want to index the best side of you, that want to index the real you.

If a SEO company calls you and offer you a high ranking. I suggest that you say 7-8 really bad things about them and then hang up. Then treat yourself $3/month worth of something you like (chocolate, a special cup of coffee at Starbucks, a short film from iTunes or whatever).

Focus on people ranking

If you spend your time focusing on getting a higher ranking on search engines you will most likely not be successful. It is a very ineffective strategy.

Instead focus on making your site better for people. This involves:

  1. Write interesting content
  2. Use a clear language
  3. Don't clutter you site with junk

As an example: This article's title is "Search Engine Optimization - Just forget it", instead of fuzzy titles like "Banned for $3 a month".

When you do this people will eventually start to notice you. They will tell their friends and post links to your site.

This is something the search engines like to see. It is a sign of relevancy. Google is designed look for this, but MSN Search and Yahoo likes it too.

Looking at the technical aspect the same rules apply:

  1. Use clear code (headline for tags for headlines, paragraph tags for text - no table layout)
  2. Don't clutter you code with tag-soup or a mix of elements.

This definitely helps, but far less than what you think. In my experience, organizing your code in a specific way makes for a very little difference.

Google also want you to sign up to Google Sitemaps. I did this a long time ago, and although it has probably had positive effect, I have not noticed any real change.

So, focus on writing clear and concise content that people can use. It helps to make your site technically simple and structured. And above all, just forget about search engine optimization.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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