Don’t obsess about search engines

by Martin Reed on 26 April 2007 in Snippets

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.

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RT Cunningham April 30, 2007 at 1:17 pm

I wrote some articles about SEO recently on my own blog, but it wasn’t about anything that would cripple the link love I had enabled by using the “dofollow” plugin. I paid my first attention to SEO, while writing the articles, in over 9 months. I languished at a PR 2 for a long time, slowly rising to a 3 and now finally to a 4, but I believe the 4 was specifically because of my SEO techniques. So, yeah, not obsessing is a good thing, but we don’t want to ignore it completely.

Martin Reed April 30, 2007 at 7:33 pm

Hi RT – thanks for your comment. I don’t discourage SEO awareness when creating content, as at the end of the day you are still creating (hopefully) good, relevant content for your site.

I think the basics (such as relevant site titles and keyword use) should be pursued, but after that we should just concentrate on pleasing our human visitors with fantastic content. Good rankings will then come naturally.

What I am strongly opposed to is people spending hours figuring out how to get their site ranked more prominently in the search engines, when they could be spending that time improving their website for their human visitors!

Yogesh May 11, 2007 at 1:38 am

Well written Martin, there are tons of people who keep fretting on why their site isnít ranking. They buy links, optimize pages, read SEO or should I say SEM stuff all day long while paying absolutely no attention at all on content development.

Martin Reed May 11, 2007 at 12:15 pm

At last, a kindred spirit! I am glad we see eye to eye on this one Yogesh. Content always comes first. If it is good enough, good search engine rankings will come naturally.

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