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SEO realities

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Derek Powazek rains on the parades of SEO consultants. Using the latest tricks and linking strategies to attempt to fool Google into thinking your more important than you are isn’t just evil, it’s bad business.

In the end, you’re sacrificing your brand integrity in a Faustian bargain for an increase in traffic that won’t last the month. And how valuable was that increase, anyway? If you’re tricking people into visiting your site, those visits are going to be bad experiences.

Throughout the years I’ve been asked by clients about how to improve search engine rankings. My answer is always the same. Google likes me. My site appears unnaturally high for many keywords. At one time, I was the top search result for "Cingular"; I ranked higher than the company’s corporate site. (As an aside, I had to take my phone number off my site at the time. It was ringing non-stop from people looking for help with their accounts.)

So why does Google like me? Lots of content, of good quality, that gains inbound links from a diverse group of web sites. The URLs never change, and a link out to a fair amount of interesting stuff. I’m ruthless about squashing comment spam, ensuring outbound links are all quality.

The rest is common sense. Write headlines that make sense, use them in prominent places (titles, headlines, and urls), and make it easy to access my content. I don’t do it for search bots, though. I do it for people. Turns out that serving people is the best way to boost your search rankings. Or as Powazek says, "Make something great. Tell people about it. Do it again."

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