Let Me Tell You A Dirty Little Secret About SEO

Via SEO Roundtable, I came across this interesting discussion at Webmaster World. Basically, it’s a discussion about how website owner changed some text on and altered some tags on his website, and saw no effect in his search engine rankings with Google.

We all like dirty little secrets, don’t we?  From my observations, it seems people like all kinds of dirty secrets, even though it angers them, causes them emotional turmoil, and for some reason, people seem to have a vested interest in knowing other people’s dirty secrets. Remember the Tiger Williams scandal? So many were interested, so many had an opinion, so many wanted to exclaim and have some emotional attachment, yet most of them had no personal knowledge of Tiger Williams or his wife at the time.

It seems the SEO world has its own dirty little secret. Are you interested?

The dirty secret about SEO is that content is not as “King” as we’re told it is by the so called “experts.” At least not in the way it is portrayed. Content DOES matter though, and for a variety of reasons. But this is one of the reasons whey I do not write my website content with search engines in mind – content MUST be written for the visitors in mind, and in this case, yes, “Content is still King.”

But as far as search engine rankings, stuff like key word density is not really a factor (unless it’s way too high!). I recently had a client send me an analysis of his website done by some online tool that gave his web pages  a 57% SEO grading. And you know what? It’s mostly nonsense, an all geared to get you to buy into some theory – an unproven theory as well, about what search engines are looking for. Much of the so called “grading” was about keyword density. (Funny – in their pie chart, they had the word “stroke” at 6% – yet in no where on the website was the word “stroke”).

I have never ever worried about “key word density” or other silly theories for many years. Sure, back in about 1997, when search engine technology was rather immature, key word density and even trying to stuff keywords, worked. If it worked, you did it – problem was, people were doing some insane things with keyword stuffing – for example, ranking high for a search on “fly fishing” when the site was really about adult porn or some such thing. Search engines were pretty quick to catch on to this, and keyword density and stuffing were adjusted accordingly in their algorithms.

A couple of years ago, my at the time girlfriend and I were discussing setting up a business in a particular city. A dog and pet service. I created a website. That website was a single page. The page itself had no text. It did have optimized Meta Tags. The only thing on the page was a photo.

I then began some search engine optimization.  Within three weeks, that domain was ranked on page 1 #5 of Google for the location and “dog walking service.”

Sure, it was not ultra competitive,  Unless you lived in that city and were offering that service.

The website (if you can call a single page that only contained a photo a “website”) got traffic. But of course, there was no business as a result of the traffic.

There was no contact information, there was no information about the services that could be offered, there was no phone number, nothing.  So, as much as there was traffic, there were zero conversions – we were not ready to launch the business.

So is content still king?  Well yes and no. Search engine optimization is about 20% internal, and 80% external. But just because you might rank highly does not mean you are going to turn traffic into sales. You need to have a website that is not just optimized for search engines, but also for humans.

Will changing some words around on your website or meta descriptions dramatically change your rankings? It might… and if you have lousy content, or flash based development, or really poorly written meta descriptions, you need to pay attention to this. But ultimately, Google has been able to figure out what is called “relevancy” – in such a way that often, it’s not the actual words on the page, but also what they are relevant to as far as a search is concerned.

There are a number of criteria that are important and have an effect on your search engine ranking, but the actual words, keyword density, etc have less and less to do with it.

And what does this mean for you? Well – content is still King – make your content readable. Write it with your visitor in mind, not the search engines.

And that is the dirty little secret of SEO today. Forget about all the keywords you’ve been told to make sure you have, and with some theoretical keyword density.  It just doesn’t work that way anymore.