Don’t Waste Time on SEO

A forum where I hang out sometimes often has comments like this: “Don’t waste time on SEO. Focus on content.”

I have to restrain myself from shrieking, “SEO is all about content!” when these comments show up, but I think I know what they mean.

They mean, “Don’t waste your time with tricks. Focus on making your website better.”

The trouble is, when you have a website for your business and are not an SEO expert, you may not be at all sure what constitutes a worthless SEO trick and what would actually make your website better. You may also not know what SEO strategies are worth your time and which ones are just tricks.

Now, we have to remember a couple of things here. One is that SEO is time consuming, and also takes time to show results. Another is that, while improving your site is always better than trying to game the system, some strategies work better for certain sites than others: there’s really no one-size-fits-all perfect plan for reaching goals with your website. You can contact Haden Interactive for a specific strategy. Here we’re speaking generally.

In general, what’s worth your time, and what isn’t?

  • Improving your web content is always worth your time. The better your website communicates with the search engines, the more often it will be offered to people searching for what you do. The better your website communicates with visitors, the more often they will take the action you want them to take. We’re working right now with a B2B software technology company. We’ve rewritten their content to make it more direct and understandable, to incorporate the keywords people use to search for their services, and to replace duplicate content from other websites with useful information about their products and services. If we do nothing else, those changes will improve this site’s results.
  • Making your website work better is always worth your time. A website that is hard to navigate, that loads slowly, that doesn’t look good on mobile devices, or that confuses people — that website will not be offered to searchers as often, and it won’t be popular with your human visitors. The tech site we’re working on had some pages that were hard to find, it had a lot of overlap between its products and its services which needed to be clarified, and it had “calls to action” which took people off the site or weren’t obviously clickable. Fixing those things will improve the user experience and improve conversions.
  • Making your website look better is usually worth your time. Search engines don’t care whether your page is pretty, but search engines also don’t give links. The tech site we’re working on had such a variety of fonts and lettering styles that the site was hard to read, photos with that 1980s stock photo look that we associate with scam sites, and illustrations that the owner of the company hates. An attractive site that gives a positive impression of your company will work better for you.
  • Gaining quality inlinks is worth your time. Every link your site receives is a vote of confidence in the metaphorical eyes of the search engines. Build your linkbuilding strategy into your workday or schedule a linkbuilding campaign.
  • Participating in the community is worth your time. Online networking, like physical world networking, is good for business. Establishing a presence at social media sites, forum participation, reading and commenting at blogs, and writing articles can all improve your online visibility.
  • Fixing your meta tags is worth your time. A good title, description,and alt text under the hood of your website can improve rankings, click through rates, and accessibility.

Here are some things that aren’t worth your time:

  • Comment spam: going around dropping links in irrelevant comments, or hiring some unfortunate person to do so, or setting a robot to the task, will do nothing for you except damage your reputation.
  • Submitting to huge numbers of search engines and poor quality directories isn’t worth your time, and it can be quite expensive, too.
  • Spinning, scraping, auto-generating, or otherwise faking content isn’t worth your time.
  • Messing around in your code isn’t worth your time. Things like hidden content, keyword stuffing, and other tricks from the ’80’s not only don’t help, but can also make search engines suspicious of you.

Put your limited time (or your limited budget for hiring people) into the things that will make a difference.


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