I see many webmasters fretting about how their site will be viewed by search engines. Indeed, I think that many site owners spend more time worrying about the opinions that search engines hold about their site over what real visitors will think!
I believe that if you focus on creating original and exceptional content, search engine traffic will come naturally. Of course, there are basic search engine optimisation techniques that should be utilised, but apart from those I would always recommend you spend your time focussing on your site’s human visitors.
In a recent article, I wrote about how to optimise page titles in phpBB. Apart from this, and adding relevant headers and meta tags to my pages, I have done very little other ‘SEO work’ on my sites. Sure, it pays to read up and familiarise yourself with basic SEO techniques but do not do this at the expense of creating good content for your site’s users. There is no point spending hours each day working to improve your site’s search engine listings if there is little to keep visitors there once they arrive.
The search engines are always looking at ways to get web developers to go ‘back to basics’ ie creating content for their users, not for the search engines. Recently it has been rumoured that Google is beginning to penalise sites that pay for text links as they feel these are done to artificially inflate their PageRank.
People have commented on my article about how to make your blog link love compatible that I may be penalised by the search engines. If I am, then I am – I will still keep this feature as I think it is a valuable and justified addition to this blog. I want to reward those readers that get involved by giving them a full link back to their site – I don’t care if the search engines don’t like it.
Don’t obsess about search engine rankings – create excellent content, a buzzing community and repeat visitors, and they will come naturally.