Are You Putting Too Much Emphasis on SEO?

Photo by Arenamontanus

Photo by Arenamontanus

When it comes to getting your message out there, most of the advice you’ll read is in agreement: SEO is the best way to get your website seen.

Once you embrace this way of thinking, you’ll come across hundreds of articles and posts telling you that everything you do should be geared towards SEO. From the composition of your content and layout of your site to the sourcing of links and your social media strategy, every keystroke should be working towards search engine visibility. Links are primarily for page rank, different social media outlets should be embraced or discarded depending on what’s in with Google this month, and content is king because the Search Engines need it.

Haven’t the SEO experts missed something crucial here?

Isn’t SEO the means, not the end?

Is what they’re telling you actually going to damage your chances of success?


The SEO as an End line: “Links are important because they pass on page rank. Page rank puts you higher on the results pages. Nofollow links are pretty much useless. Concentrate on one-way links from high PR pages that aren’t Nofollow.

Links, it seems, are all about page rank. They channel authority towards your site, and improve your listings. But what else do links channel towards your site? Traffic. Human beings. Customers.

If you’re only looking at one-way links from high PR Nofollow-free sites, then you’re missing a trick. A reciprocal link from a PR1 or PR2 blog might not send you rocketing up the rankings, but if you’ve picked the right blog to share links with, they will send visitors who are interesting in what you’re saying or selling.

The SEO as a Means line: “Links are important because they channel visitors towards your site and improve your hit rate. More hits mean more customers. Some links pass on lots of page rank, but all links pass on some PR. Concentrate on links from relevant sites in your niche. They’ll pass on people who’ll be receptive to your message.


Social Media

The SEO as an End line: “Social media is great. It’ll provide you with links, making it easier for the search engine spiders to come in and index your site. Sites like Digg aren’t Nofollow, so you’ll get some nice page rank too. Social media will put you much higher on the results pages.

If you’re using social media as nothing more than a convenient linkbuilding tool, you’re missing the point entirely. If you’re submitting the exact same articles, pages or posts to every social media outlet, you’re missing the point entirely.

Social media is all about getting interested people towards your site. A Digg news-junkie won’t be interested in your article on canonical URLs, the techies over at Sphinn won’t think much to your dancing kitten, and if anyone can tell me what the ADHD StumbleUpon crowd want, I’d be grateful.

Social media puts large numbers of likeminded people at your fingertips. That excellent article on SEO? Send it to Sphinn. If it’s good enough, they’ll love it, visit your site and you’ll get some knowledgeable, interested subscribers. Using social media as a middleman in your linkbuilding is like swapping your cow for a few crates of milk and a beefburger. Yes, the end result is similar, but is it really the best way to do it?

The SEO as a Means line: “Social media is fantastic. How else could you target specific groups of people instantly? Going viral with social media is going to generate even more traffic than search engines. I mean, how often do you pass along something you’ve found on Google?



The SEO as an End line: “Simple. Content is king. Content’s a vehicle for your keywords. Get the density right in the content, rank on the keywords and this time next year Rodney, we’ll be millionaires.”

I’ll nail my colours to the mast here. I’m a copywriter first and an SEO second. Good copy can sell a not-so-good product, but being the top of the search engines means nothing if you can’t convert a hit into business.

Spammy, keyword-stuffed content written solely for the benefit of search engine spiders is not going to sell a single product. It’s not going to promote your service. It’s not going to win your blog a single subscriber. If you aren’t thinking of your readers when you’re writing content, you are going to fail.

If that last sentence hasn’t made you think of the last piece of SEO content you produced, read it again.

The SEO as a Means line: “You need to get the keywords in there to rank, but you need to preserve your message. All the traffic in the world isn’t going to help if you’re not clearly stating how you’ll help the visitor. Think of your readers or you will fail.”


The Balanced View

SEO is the best way to get your content seen.

There’s more to life than getting your content seen. You can get your content seen by searchers, surfers and social media stalwarts, and then have that content turn hits into business. Lasering in on page rank, spiders and keyword density can distract you from the bigger picture. Take a step back, take a deep breath and look over all that advice again.

Only take the advice that fits in with your strategy, don’t lose sight of the fact that SEO is a means to an end, and you stand a much better chance of succeeding online.

4 Comments comments for "Are You Putting Too Much Emphasis on SEO?"

  1. Toni Anicic says:

    and if anyone can tell me what the ADHD StumbleUpon crowd want, I’d be grateful

    I think Stumblers like fun stuff. StumbleUpon sometimes sends lots of traffic with just one review, I’m not really sure how it works from the technical perspective…

  2. Tom Maon says:

    Regarding the content section – Google is pretty clever these days in regards to keyword stuffing. Spammy content – anything over 6 or 7 per cent density (and I’d never suggest touching close to that with a stick) – is pretty much disregarded off the bat, or at least not ranked as highly as other, natural sites.

    But I agree with your point. If content is king, readers are the angry peasants who’ll revolt if you’re not nice to them.

  3. Rob says:

    “Isn’t SEO the means, not the end?”

    Yes, totally. Having a million people at your shop, it doesn’t mean you’re going to make a million sales. The end always has to be good, useful content

  4. Winston says:

    I think with time a lot of webmasters (and SEOs) are seeing the old ‘Google-truth’, build websites primarily for users and not primarily for search engines.

    The genius is in connecting one with the other.

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