Another reason to hate SEO blog post hero image

Another reason to hate SEO

I recently read an article which really struck a chord and was perfectly aligned with my long held opinions on SEO Firstly let me give some credit The original article written by Chris Coyier can be read here but basically the title sums it up "Everything about SEO is obnoxious" This is what SEO should be...

  1. Write content on the internet.
  2. Make sure it is output in semantic, accessible HTML.
  3. Make sure the performance on the site isn't a disaster.
  4. Play no games. Do no tricks.
  5. Do that over a long period of time on the same domain to build trust.

And to be fair, that does work. That's all I did and was rewarded with decent traffic from Google for quite a long time.

It was something like 75% of all traffic, so it was something I thought a lot about. I would occasionally be lured in by SEO snake oil bullshit. _We should think more about keywords! We should put those keywords into the headers throughout the article more. I don't have any evidence that stuff like that actually works, but even if it does in the short term, it junks up your writing. Now you're writing for computers and not for humans. That's not a good long term plan, because humans won't connect with it as well and human connection (sorry computers) is everything.

But the main reason for my ire is that it just plain wrecks the internet. Being at the top of Google search results is worth so much money (in certain sectors) that people are highly incentivised to get there. And it turns out, if you play the SEO game well enough, it is a game that can be won. And the winner absolutely doesn't have to be the best experience for the user.

It's gotten bad enough that the trust has eroded. We collectively have a feeling anything you Google for doesn't deliver you the best results, it delivers you a pile of whoever is winning the SEO deathmatch at the moment. Plus ads. Plus if there is really nice clear answer, Google tends to pluck that answer off the website and display it directly, generating zero value for the website it was plucked from.

For **another** the SEO profession feels slimy. Your job is to battle an algorithm. The algorithm is trying to surface the best_ content, but to win, you make it surface your content. I guess you can sleep at night as long as you're entirely convinced your content is the best and you're just fighting for what is owed to you. I guess that's like a thief justifying their actions because, actually, it is society that is wrong.

Is that a mischaracterisation? Maybe. I'm sure there are some nice people in SEO. But the article corroborates my feeling.

So who ends up with a career in SEO? The stereotype is that of a hustler: a content goblin willing to eschew rules, morals, and good taste in exchange for eyeballs and mountains of cash. A nihilist in it for the thrills, a prankster gleeful about getting away with something.

"This is modern-day pirate shit, as close as you can get."

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