A less cynical look at search engine optimisation
A quick Google search reveals why so many people are confused about about the aforementioned term. From suggestions to fine tune your websites meta data, to reevaluating your linking strategy, advice is flung at website owners from all sides.
Most of the time these ideas have some relevance, but more often then not they simply miss the point. I'll clarify.
It's all about content
We've all been told about hundreds of important factors when it comes to good search engine optimisation. However if the content you're producing is inaccessible or just plain bad, it simply doesn't matter. You will not rank well in search engines. Funnily enough the opposite is also true.
Let me give you an example, type 'wheelie bins' into Google. At the time of writing the number one returned entry is a company called 'British Bins', beating the likes of Amazon, eBay and other established brands.
Quickly looking at the code on this site reveals some huge SEO blunders right off the bat. For instance the homepage has six heading one (H1) title tags, most of which are grouped together. In addition a good proportion of the sites images are missing alt attributes, the page has 38 broken links and it's server location is in America despite it being a UK based retailer.. the list goes on.
Given the above, it's hard to imagine how this site is the first organic link in Google. The answer is relevant, unique content.
Content has to come first
I'm not defending bad practice. Poor website implementation like the above discriminates against the visually impaired and is simply not a good idea. I'm also not saying that half thought through implementation won't negatively impact a websites organic search performance, because it will.
The point is that good content implemented badly can still rank well, the opposite is almost never true.
I'm sure that's all good and well, but what about highly competitive search terms?
Yes I know, that was an extreme example. In the absence of competition you can get some surprising results from search engines. But when there are lots of businesses, all vying to be number one for a search term, things inevitably get a little bit more heated. When there's lots of voices to be heard, fine tuning matters more and this is when all factors come into play.
But it always comes back to your audience
If you have something unique to say, something people find relevant and genuinely useful, you will invariably gain an audience. Fine tuning is important, but only when it's built on top of good foundations.
Getting search engine optimisation right means understanding your target market, knowing what they're looking for and making content that helps them get where they want to be.
So in conclusion..
I titled this blog post 'a less cynical look at search engine optimisation' for a reason. The point is that content should always be built on top of a deep understanding of your audiences needs. If you're building an SEO strategy with any other mentality, you're doing it wrong.