The myth of “the myth of SEO”

Despite what you may have been told, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is not a complete waste of time. Despire what you may have been told, SEO is not a panacea. The “SEO gurus” would have you believe SEO is a magic tonic, and they are lying. The anti-guru-contrarian-pundits we know and love insist the secret to Google success is “just being as awesome as you can be, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a corporate douchebag. Any good advice they do happen to have should have been obvious to you in the first place”.

Here’s the brief reality: SEO works. Good SEO is not always obvious, especially on a large website with more than one major priority. But “not obvious” does not mean “complicated”. It’s like separating your whites from your colors when you’re doing laundry. It might not be obvious if you’ve never done your own laundry, but it is easy to learn, and simple to make a habit of.

If you care about SEO, the best thing you can do (as the anti-pundits will tell you) is populate your site with kickass, unique content for a specific, passionate audience. But the next best thing you can do is go out and buy a book – almost ANY book will do – on SEO, and learn the basics.
SEO For Dummies is fine.
So is Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day or most anything else.

Save your money. Forget the consultants (yes, even us). Buy a book. Read it. Then just write your ass off.

A quick example might be in order. A ski resort makes a lot of its money on equipment rentals. In North America, it’s called “ski rentals” or “gear rental” or whatever. But in Europe, they often use the word “hire” instead, e.g. “ski hire”. A good SEO practice for a ski resort wishing to appeal to an international audience is to make some reasonable effort to use the European term at least once or twice on their equipment rental page. This doesn’t make them evil corporate whores, nor does it necessarily have to dilute the “integrity of the prose”. But it will help Europeans looking for a North American ski vacation find the page they’re looking for. (Though why you’d leave Europe to come ski in North America is another question.)

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