Some thoughts on SEO

Search engine optimization, or SEO is the art of optimising your content so that search engines will rank it more favourably. This post is some of my thoughts on the subject.

Many new bloggers become slightly obsessed with optimising their content. I started blogging in the games industry and was often asked not to refer to “the game” but the title as this would apparently improve rankings. In the same way, much to the frustration of those who attempt to encourage intelligent discussion on their blogs (such as myself(!) ), many commenters don’t use their real name as the name of their comment, but instead opt for keyword filled drivel. I don’t publish such comments, but many blog owners do, thus encouraging these misled people to repeat. One often gets the impression that these people (strike through) Best Plumber in Oregon are leaving commets in an attempt to increase their search engine ranking. Which leads me onto content.

A blog is only as good as its content.

I said that, by the way. It’s true though. The whole point of a blog is that it is a way of publishing content. Blogs such as Smashing Magazine and Nettuts are so successful because they have excellent content. Blogs such as Best Plumbers in Oregon aren’t because usually the content is very poor.

If you’re having to try to improve your search engine ranking that means your content isn’t very good.

Search engines are clever beasts. They can work out what is good content and so if you’re optimising your content then surely it’s not good enough in the first place? Surely you’d do better to spend the time improving your content and improving your ranking that way, instead of leaving comments under random names filled with keywords?

“Our themes can haz great SEOz.”

As the number of premium WordPress themes continues to spiral (including an excellent one launching soon), many themes struggle to find any features of any value to users and so fall back on “great SEO”. As a freature, it’s perfect as it can’t really be tested or proven either way. Search Google and you’ll find huge lists of themese with the specific purpose of SEO. Ironic really as you don’t see the sites containing these lists (and thus with the high rankings) using these themes. Looking at these themes, it just seems they’re an excuse for poor design. And what’s “great SEO” worth without the content behind it?

Designs are for life, not just for Christmas

A design should be using semantic code which a search engine can read and decide for itself what is best. It’s a search engine’s job to find the content, not the blogger’s job to show the content to the search engine. Changing your meta tag with a plugin is something that thousands and thousands of people do with the “All in One SEO Pack” plugin. Heck, it was one of the first plugins I installed on my first blog. I had no idea what it did or how to use it. I just installed it because I thought I order to get good rankings I’d need this plugin. I was wrong.

As long as your design is coded well, that’s all the “SEO optimization” you need to do. An awful lot of themes these days are, too. But for the average blogger, it’s hard to tell what is and isn’t these days; back in the day one would see if the theme validated, bit these days the better themes are often using CSS3 and the like which doesn’t validate. The only thing I can suggest is to see what the errors produced by validation; a bad design will have errors caused by unclosed elements, a good design will have errors caused by unrecognised elements.

So then. Hopefully this has been an interesting read and educated you that leaving comments with odd names isn’t worth it. That’s all really.