What Does SEO Mean To you?

Search Engine Optimization. A bit rubbish, really, as far as descriptive terms go.

Of course, search engines can’t be optimized, or at least they can’t be by anyone outside the search engine. The term SEO originated at a time when all you needed to do was hack the underlying code of web pages in order to make them appear higher in search engine results listings. Those days are almost at an end. The future is about positioning, which is more about marketing than it is about code.

Bill has an excellent post on this topic. Bill is requesting suggestions for the Wikipedia entry on Search Engine Optimization, as he is unhappy with the existing content.

And no wonder.

To me, so called white hat/black hat “ethics” have always been a divisive mis-characterisation of our community, as it places undue emphasis on questions of moral philosophy, as opposed to marketing process. “Placement” means a lot more than getting a page ranked in the SERPS – it means getting seen on search engines – and that can include news, PPC, vertical search, regional search, distributed advertising networks, and more. As for nebulous phrases like “High quality web sites typically rank well” – it’s just as true to say “High Quality Web Sites Typically Rank Poorly”, or “Old Sites Typically Rank Well”. Essentially meaningless, unless you have a clear understanding of the context in which they’re stated.

Time for some decent editorial control on that page.

  1. BillBill05-01-2006

    Thanks, Peter,

    I’ve been making some changes on the wikipedia entry, but mostly small ones, except for a larger section on “SEO and Marketing.

    I remember when Danny Sullivan added a few links to the site (see the discuss section for the SEO entry), and had them removed, along with a statement that if he wanted to really add to the wikipedia, he would add some content to the page.

    I’m taking that advice. My changes may possibly be rolled back, but I’m trying to follow their rules as much as possible concerning things like point of view neutral content, and so on.

    Hopefully some others get inspired to make some changes and additions, too. The wikipedia is too popular for the page to remain as misleading as it is now.

    I’m trying to come up with some context for the “High quality web sites typically rank well” statement, or a suitable replacement.

  2. Peter Da VanzoPeter Da Vanzo05-01-2006

    Nice one, Bill.

    This is the downside of Wikipedia, eh. As you rightly point out, ethics don’t define the industry, yet anyone would think so by reading that page. Hard to know where to start, especially as you may well get rolled back just as fast!

    That page, as it stands, is worthless. A prime example of a bunch of monkeys with typewriters.

    ““High quality web sites typically rank well”

    I’d remove it – heh heh. What is “quality”? To whom? Does a search engine rank web sites or pages? (it’s pages, of course). There are many “quality” sites that aren’t listed due to crawling issues, lack of inbound links, etc.

    Could a title be any more wrong? 🙂

  3. BillBill05-01-2006

    It is bad. I’ve been staying away from it for now.

    I’m going to make some more small changes before I try to make what some might perceive as more controversial changes, like attempting to dispell the notion that the quality of html equals rankings in search engines.

    I am also saving my changes so that if any get changed, I can change them back. Stubborness can be a positive character trait if you call it persistence, instead.

    Crawling issues are one of the top reasons I see for a site not performing well in search engines. Validated HTML doesn’t fix endless loops or session ID created infinitely repeated URLs. Crawlers give up before indexing all pages of a site.

    Take a look at the wikipedia page in a week or two. Either it will be completely rolled back, or more than half changed by them.

  4. Peter Da VanzoPeter Da Vanzo05-01-2006

    “Stubborness can be a positive character trait if you call it persistence, instead.”

    RALMAO. I must remember that one….

  5. John ScottJohn Scott05-02-2006

    RE: Search engine optimization.

    Sorry to be anal, but one thing WikiPedia his right about is “Search engine optimization (SEO) is a set of methods aimed at improving the ranking of a website in search engine listings.”

    One of my pet peeves is SEO firms that do nothing outside of SEO trying to brand their services as holistic marketing.

    But I have to wonder why bother with Wikipedia at all? It is becoming a choice spamfest, and the more it gets known to SEO/webmaster types the more it will go in that direction.

  6. BillBill05-02-2006

    Good points, John

    The audience of the wikipedia page on SEO likely isn’t as much the SEO community as it is webmasters who might want to learn more about SEO.

    When they see something like “get a link to your pages from an established site, and all the pages of your site will be indexed by the search engines within two days” they could use a more realistic and truthful understanding of what actually happens. Too many folks see SEO as a way of manipulating search engines by stuffing parts of pages with keywords.

  7. Cristian MezeiCristian Mezei05-02-2006

    To me, Wikipedia is just a big scrappy yard, with no access whatsoever to post any good content, in any topic.

    There is always some big shot telling people that the “notability” ot the X article you wrote is not established.

    So to sum this up, for me Wikipedia is just a way to get a few nice, well noted by Google, links. And you’ve got to work hard to get them.

  8. John ScottJohn Scott05-02-2006

    Bill, I do see the virue in what you are doing. I just don’t believe that Wikipedia is worthy of the effort. Kind of like DMOZ in the making.

  9. BillBill05-03-2006

    I’ve considered that, John.

    I hope that it doesn’t evolve in that direction, but it might. I can afford a few minutes a day towards it, and if I spend a fair amount of time and effort over the next few weeks, and it all gets rolled back, at least I’ve tried. Who knows, maybe it will make a slight difference.

    A fairly successful environmental lobbyist I talked with once, told me that his successes came one small step at a time, with reasonable and reachable goals in sight. That’s why I’m not trying to rewrite the article overnight, but rather one or two sentences at a time.

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