If you’ve run a website for any length of time, chances are you’ve heard of “SEO” (Search Engine Optimization). The principle of SEO is that in order for your website to be successful – regardless of how you define success – you need get a significant portion of your website traffic from search engines. Furthermore, SEO tries to improve the quality of your website traffic by having your site place higher in the search engine results pages of people who are searching for the types of information or products that your website provides.
There are many elements to SEO, but the cornerstone of the practice is making sure that the content on your website incorporates relevant and valuable keywords and phrases, to improve your search engine ranking for people searching for those words and phrases.
But using SEO techniques requires some caution. Google doesn’t publish any of the details relating to its search engine algorithm, so the actual practice of SEO is itself somewhat of a mystery. There are individuals and consultants who claim to have figured out exactly what is needed to place at the top of a Google search results page, but it’s difficult to know for sure whether the SEO techniques you’re using resulted in more traffic to your site, or if there are other reasons for the improvement. You’ll also never know whether your SEO techniques would have helped you, were there not other factors which damaged your search engine standing.
More importantly, Google is constantly updating and changing its search ranking algorithms, so the SEO techniques that might have improved the ranking of your site six months ago could actually be harming your site today. Over the past few years, Google has made a number of high-profile significant changes to the way they rank websites; notably the “Panda” update in 2011 and the 2012 “Penguin” update. The stated purpose of these updates was to provide a less favorable ranking to websites which, in Google’s view, were focused more on SEO, and less on providing a quality experience to their visitors.
When you think about it, at its core, SEO does have some inherent conflicts with writing quality articles and other website content for your audience. When you start focusing too much on using certain keywords and phrases a specific number of times and in preferred locations throughout an article, it’s difficult for that article not to sound somewhat unnatural.
If you can identify valuable and relevant keywords and phrases to use in a given article, then do so if you can still write a quality article. The most prudent approach is to de-emphasize your focus on SEO strategies. Instead of putting time and effort (and money) into trying to improve your search engine results today, create quality content that will serve your website far into the future.
Remember that Google and the other search engines are always changing the way they rank websites, so even if you did have good insight into their methods, do you really want to go back and rework all of your website content each time there’s a change?
I am a professional .NET and PHP software developer. I has been designing and developing websites professionally since 1994. Currently working as SEO consultant at UK SEO Company.