Why bother with SEO?
If you’ve ever worked with SEO, you might be familiar with this situation. A new blog post on optimizing organic traffic was released and we are eager to implement these “optimizations”. There is so much we try, to influence the ranking we get by some vaguely defined ‘algorithm’. We try to change our html structure, we add special little keywords to our titles and meta descriptions. We sometimes even write clickbait.
Is SEO a bullshit job?
Bullshit jobs as described by David Graeber are jobs void of meaning. Bullshit jobs can create great societal and individual harm as our self worth becomes more dependent on our jobs. Is search engine optimization a bullshit job? We have to ask ourselves:
How do I know if I’m doing a good job?
Gazing into the crystal
Most of the know-how for search engine optimization is produced in various blogs and seminars. SEO consultants will analyze your page’s performance for obscene prices. There is some empirical data, done by moz which tries to correlate website traits and search engine rankings. As they will tell you themselves:
> Note that these factors are not “proof” of what search engines use to rank websites, but simply show the characteristics of web pages that tend to rank higher.
Attempts in measuring impact
It doesn’t seem that hard. Let’s say you have an e-commerce business and you read on blog X that adding “buy now” to your title will increase the CTR (click-through-rate, how many of the people who see your search result click on the link). You implement the change and observe:
The orange dotted line can be any kind of prediction or interpolation of your historical performance. If you observe the red outcome: revert the changes. If you get the green outcome: pat yourself on the back for doing a good SEO.
In reality, the graph more often than not looks like this: In the green case we’re doubtfully happy. In the red case we immediately argue that these kinds of predictions aren’t all that accurate anyways.
“Google doesnt like x”
If you hear this or if you notice thinking this yourself, stop. Ask yourself what this means. What evidence do you actually have, that this will kill your search engine ranking?
Remember: you don’t create the content for bots. You create it for people. If the quality of your content is good and delivered to your users quickly you will rank high in search engines. Everything else is smoke and mirrors.
The good parts
Obsessing over our ranking on search engines can have some positive side effects.
We make our page faster. users love when your page is fast. Coincidentally, so do the search engine crawlers.
We add alt texts to images, embedd structured and add meta content. This is nice if you’re using screen reader software.
We use a sensible html structure. Again, good for screen readers. But good for keeping your code clean and readable as well.
How to get a good ranking
It’s actually very simple: & make it fast!
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