Monday, April 26, 2010

seo your face

Am taking a class on SEO (search engine optimization). We've gone through the ins and outs of the biggest components of Google's search algorithm. Nobody knows exactly what goes into Google's "secret sauce", but there are some key rules, which I won't go through in detail (but which you can check out here).

In essence you need to figure out a few terms that you want your site to be associated with via search. The bigger your site, the more terms you can target. But you need to "tag" both content and HTML with those words, so that Google gets a good idea of what your site is about. (It obviously isn't this simple but am choosing this to segue to my main point!)

It makes sense to focus your website or blog content, just like you would do for any publication, film, radio or TV show. But going through the rules made me uncomfortable. SEO includes a good level of "stuffing" your content with your keywords. Which means that if you want your site to come out in a search for "travel deal", you would need to work that phrase into as much of your content as possible, without turning Google off by your persistence in wanting to be found for "travel deal" (that's "travel deal" by the way, not "travel dealS"; plurality apparently makes a difference!). That makes a lot of sense. It's a balancing act. Leave them wanting more? Nobody wants the cow when they can get the milk for free?

Coincidentally, my first SEO class was held just days after the 140 Conference, where @1000timesyes guy talked a lot about the detrimental effects of Google ranking and SEO on good writing - "Good writing dies at the hand of search engine optimization."

I know I need to focus my content somehow, but how about finding my own voice? How about writing about topics that make me feel something, instead of writing about "onsite computer repair", if that is my targeted key term? How about inspiration and chance and maybe even touching someone with something that doesn't make any sense except to you and that other person in the world?

Alas we need to play by the rules, Google's rules. Because search, is reality.

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