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Search Engine Optimisation: risky business?

The Marketing Optimization Blog is amongst a number of blogs in the field of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) which has been making uneasy noises about the subject recently. In Will Google Judge You Guilty of SEO? it hints that a dramatic Google update might be coming (there’s no real evidence for this) and that sites which have been manipulating Google results might be caught out. Now, I’ve been to some search engine optimisation conferences, and although many of the people working in the area are very smart indeed, I’ve never met a group of people who are more totally wrapped up in their little world. They are obsessive about being well-known “names”, and getting one over on their fellow experts (terms like “SEO superstars” are regularly thrown around), and one of the results is that their blogs will be full of predictions, so they’ll always be able to show how clever they are when they get one right. So don’t panic about an impending search engine optipocalypse destroying your Google traffic overnight just because a blog or two says it might.

That said, the article above makes some good points, including the obvious observation that Google views SEO as dangerous. I guess that depends on what you mean by “SEO”. If it’s genuinely manipulating the search engine results, it’s definitely risky. As I’ve said before, run for your lives if you’re approached by one of those consultancies which says it can improve your Google rankings for a monthly fee, but tells you that you’ll need to maintain the contract if you want to maintain the results. I hate to think what they’re doing. On the other hand, if you understand “SEO” to be putting all the basics in place on your site, and ensuring you’ve got links from sites which ought to give you links, there’s nothing wrong with that and never will be. When people ask us to quote for SEO work, they’re often surprised that it’s only a few hundred pounds a month, not a few thousand, but that’s because what we do is the basic stuff which Google actively encourages.

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