Three recent blog posts on the same theme have me nodding my head in agreement. The consensus is that the kind of sleazy, lazy SEO that some folks use to artificially optimize website rankings has got to stop. Content written expressly for rankings and ads is of zero use to the user, and actually makes search engines worse at search.
Nathaniel Mott at Appstorm thinks SEO is breaking the web:
“People have gotten so good at SEO that they can make a result appear for something that doesn’t even exist.
This has taken search from naturally powerful and thorough to a complete crapshoot. Now you’re going to have to click through several results that seem perfect before you can find an item that actually has what you’re looking for. When this happens once it’s a pain – when it happens a dozen times, it’s a flaw with the system.”
With tongue firmly in cheek, Sonia Simone at Copyblogger says there’s a “new” SEO secret weapon: stop catering to search engines, and start focusing on site quality – revolutionary, eh? ; ) We are advised, “Don’t take shortcuts, they take too long.”
And what is the true cost of “perfect law firm SEO“? Jeremy Hessing-Lewis at Skunkworks says that in highly competitive legal niches, “unfortunately, the trend is to sacrifice everything for the sake of SEO.” He drafts some “perfect seo” website content for a fictional firm, which would be hilarious in its effect if I hadn’t seen a hundred actual sites just like it.
It’s nice to see these sentiments put so frankly. Maybe it’s time to stop using the term “search engine optimization”, if this is what the term has come to mean. Maybe we should call it “content visibility optimization” or “quality and utility optimization” or some other mouthful. I’m only half-serious here, but whether we use the term SEO or not, collectively, we need to repair its tarnished reputation.
Properly and ethically done, SEO is about making content and websites as easily found and as useful to the reader as possible. To sum up, Sonia puts it nicely:
“…if you aren’t building a site that’s worth reading (and that’s therefore worth sharing in social media, and worth linking to), the most brilliant shortcut in the world will take you away from where you want to go.”
I’m curious – what do you think? Can SEO be reclaimed? Ideas for a better term to replace “search engine optimization”? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.