Have you ever gone to the magical Google and searched "SEO"? What do you see? Probably How-Tos, Basic Info, Dos and Don'ts. Do you ever notice that topics seem to start duplicating themselves? One person talks about what you should do with your SEO content while the next article will tell you not to do that at all and do this instead. Some say that SEO is confusing. Some say that SEO is vague. Well, what do you expect on a topic that is constantly contradicted from different sides, that has no solid foundation, and that has more questions than answers? We get SEO.
There are some topics that are talked about more than others, but some are just talked about way too much. Which topics you ask?
Is Adding SEO Ethical?
First, are we ruining people's lives with SEO? I highly doubt that. Is SEO the reason for the fall of a nation? Um. No. The goal of SEO is to do exactly what the abbreviation says. We are adding "search engine optimization" to our websites so they have a better chance of being viewed on search engines. Period. We are not trying to rule the Google, just look better to it. That's all. There is no reason why ethics and morality should come into question here.
There are plenty of ways that SEO can move into the label of "black hat SEO", which is a line that you should never cross if you are trying to build your website properly. I read a forum recently that said, and I quote:
"SEO is totally unethical. At its foundation, all you are doing is artificially affecting your search engine rankings - it's not occurring naturally. To me, the best type of SEO is popularity. The more popular your site is, the higher ranked you would be (based on backlinks, etc). Simple and clear. I really feel that SEO is comparable with changing an unborn child's genetic makeup for sex, appearance, etc. It's just totally artificial!" –via Tekmaven on DaniWeb.
That seems to be the argument of most, minus changing the sex of a baby of course. Most feel that SEO just creates a ranking that otherwise wouldn't exist to begin with. Here's my argument.
Let's say I have a new company. A production company. Our job is focused on production of videos for local businesses, and, in the end, we create a commercial for them. Now, our business, called Top Production, is brand-new. Only been a company for two months, but me and my partner have been in the industry for 10 years. We know the ins and outs and can promise top quality work that you, as a client, will never be unsatisfied with.
So, now we have two options. Grow slowly, or "naturally", branding that we are a new company, and wait until we make an impact along the way that grows our popularity. OR, we can add SEO to our website and launch an SEO campaign that brings our experienced skills to the eyes of those local businesses searching for our services on places like Google. We are still going to provide the absolute best that we can to each and every customer, so what does it matter that our SEO helped them find us faster than waiting for them to find us in months to come?
Did I cross over into "that's unethical and artificial"? I don't think so. Not by a long shot. I am not misleading my clients with my SEO. I am not hurting my clients. I'm just making it easier for them to find me. That's it.
Final Thoughts: SEO may be in the "eye of the beholder", but I feel that there is nothing wrong with helping a website get more visitors.
Meta Tags, To Add Them or Not to Add Them?
If you want to. Done.
Is it that easy? No, of course not. Truth is, there is no question about whether or not to add meta tags as most do anyway but more how to add them. One of questions is "how many times can I repeat a keyword in a meta keyword tag line?" The consensus, after years of debate, is two times should be okay, but more than that, you aren't helping your website page, and you are a spammer. And if you are labeled as a spammer, Google will crush your dreams of having a big, amazing website. Is that true? I don't know. Will the sun stop rotating someday? Maybe. That's the best answer I have for you.
So, why are meta tags so ragged on by so many? Because in all honesty, GOOGLE DOESN'T CARE ABOUT META TAGS. There I said it. The tags are mostly used to describe the content on a page, but that's about it. There are more articles fighting back and forth about this, when in the end Google doesn't even read them. Meta tags are not included into the web search rankings.
This is straight from Mike Cutts, who is a Google software engineer, who says that Google only uses tags for the "Google search appliance" where you, as a browser, can specify to only get results that match a specific meta tag. Google has determined that the tags are so spammed—stop being a spammer!—that they don't even use them.
Final thoughts: Stop talking about meta tags. Google doesn't care. Add them or don't. It won't help your page rank.
Duplicate Content is Okay, Right?
Really? I mean. Really? Are we really still writing articles about this? All the articles should be deleted and one should be put in their places. The new article will say simply:
Duplicate content is bad. Don't do it. Bye.
Why is duplicate content so bad? For a few reasons actually. First, let's think about the "unethical" argument. They say the website is not being built naturally but artificially. To add a more "natural" aspect to your website means you should add more QUALITY and ORIGINAL content. If you are using the same content all over the Internet—the easiest way to do this being to write an article or blog post and posting the EXACT piece on multiple sites—search engines don't know which they should add or not add to their indexes or which should be getting the correct ranking.
Engines like Google are said to even penalize your website if it finds many duplicate sites with different URLs. But by Google's own words, "Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results."
…which is the duplicating of the same blog or article on multiple sites or adding the same information on your website and giving it a different URL. Both are bad. Don't do it.
Final thoughts: Google doesn't want to guess which is better. And you don't want Google to make that decision for you. So, give search engines your best, most original, new and unique content, and you will see results…that is if you make it past feeling guilty for being unethical…
Final Final Thoughts
Google. Yahoo. Dozens of others. They all want your content. They only ask that you don't try to trick them. Millions of hours are put into the optimization of the coding to create these search engines, and they don't want to find out you are trying to get around what they have worked so hard to create. Are you doing a bad thing with SEO? You can be if you are doing it wrong but by just completing SEO practices doesn't make your website a bad one or make it unethical in any way.
Just be honest to your audience whether that is a group of browsers or the search engines, know what you need and don't need to add (meta tags), and you will be just fine. Don't worry, Google doesn't know where you are…unless you have a Google Place account. Then, well, good luck to you.
Miscelleana Rhinehart has been writing for many years in a broad range of topics. Currently, she works with Nexteppe, a company helping dealers sell MI used cars through the use of social media and web design.