I’ve noticed a lot of discussions about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) lately. It’s is the skill of working the content of a website and the inbound & outbound links in such a way that your site receives a top-ranking in the relevant search results. There are some really smart SEO experts out there you will get your site to the top listing in relation to certain keywords.
However I have certain questions in regards to all this. If the top 5 results of my search are there because of smart SEO and *not* because they : 1) have a really good product/service 2) are excellent in the way they do business or 3) lots of people are mentioning them online, then how relevant does it make these results? If they have a crap product & terrible customers service but spends lots of money on good & relevant SEO they will still end up at the top search results. So what do the top search results mean then?
Personally I think the 2-3 lines of text below the title of each search result says a lot more. I normally scan these bits of text in my search results for relevancy to my query. This means that more often than not it will be result 5 or 7 or even 12 that I might click on rather than 1, 2 or 3. As for Google Adwords; I can’t remember the last time I looked at those or if I ever clicked on an ad.
The relevancy becomes even greater if & when you move away from Google as a lot of SEO specialists will use the “price” of a Google keyword as an indicator of it’s relevancy and will adjust their SEO-work accordingly. Other search methods and engines might give rather different results. There are certain search engines that are specific to a particular line of work or research. Getting a good listing on these will solely depend on real reputation and not on “worked” relevance. My personal favorite search engine is Copernic. Copernic has pulled up relevant results for me that no other search engine (incl. Google) has ever found for me. The best one was my grandfathers name in a scanned newspaper page from 1903. No other search engine has ever been able to find this page.
So how important is SEO? That’s up to you to decide. In my opinion it is a prefereable to ensure a good reputation (as in being a reliable business with a good product or service) and getting lots of positive online feedback clearly mentioning your product or your business name. Twitter, Facebook & blogs are ideally suited for generating this type of feedback. I would be more inclined to buy a product that got lots of positive mention on social networking sites than one that (solely) got a consistent no.1 ranking in Google. But that’s just me….