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Thursday, August 17, 2006

SEO is free | The truth about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Bride of FrankensteinThere's no question that search engine optimization has become the focal point of many towards the goal of fame and fortune on the Web. The basic premise is that there is a combination of just the right optimization tactics and shenanigans to create a bride that will be the perfect match to the Frankenstein's monster of keywords that you've decided to woo through your web site. Those keywords, that if you could just master, will make you an immediate ecommerce success. You've created a love mantra, a secret sauce that will attract your precious. As the cover of the DVD version of Bride of Frankenstein declares, "Warning! The Monster demands a Mate!"

For a real time example let me swing over to randomwebsite.com and take a look at the meta keywords of a site that's served up. Here's their monstrous mating call:

more music, More Music, electronic, lali puna, isan, tarwater, masha qrella, f.s. blumm, ms. john soda, guitar, manual, herrmann & kleine, guther, populous, tied & tickled trio, notwist, man'sbestfriend, anticon, benjamin gibbard, andrew kenny, postal service, death cab for cutie, christian kleine, mum, m˜m, m™m, styrofoam, the go find, opiate, b.fleischmann, b. fleischmann

They've put some thought into dissecting the psyche of their sweetheart, apparently by musical artist preference. Like many sites they may have gone much further into the process and optimized each jot and title to emphasize these keywords and be perfectly read and indexed by search engines. They may someday reach the pinnacle and be returned in the top searches for these keywords. Lighting strikes, the monster quivers, it's alive!!!! SEO success! Or is it?

As the revered B movies from the 1930's portray, when Frankenstein finally achieves the ultimate, creating a man out of stolen body parts, he doesn't get the results he expects, but rather a monster that ends up trying to kill him.

So enough with the stories, what's the point here about SEO? Simply this, that the focus of SEO strategies often becomes myopic...focusing on the immediate goals and discounting long-term strategy. It's one thing to get access to your target market, it's another to avoid scaring them once you do. The key is to focus on the real goal--developing and maintaining a mutually beneficial long term relationship with your target audience.

A great example that everyone can relate to is that clever piece of spam that gets through our five layers of filters...let me go to a spam folder and find an example...ok, here's some of the nonsense in the body of this spam message: "That fellow up there on the rock will see uscoming and bring the others down on us. My hip, sweet and kindly signori, for the love of mod and hissaints, signori, my poor old hip."

Assuming this spam didn't get caught at the last moment, the genius creator of this prime specimen would have mastered his perverted art of spam optimization and won against all odds...reaching his intended audience. Problem being of course is that in his haste to reach me, he's been blinded to the fact that he's created a repulsive monster.

I'm sure the analogy is clear by now so I'll stop with the drama. It is worth noting in this first in a series of posts on SEO, that the details of optimization are not irrelevant. In fact they can be quite important...but that will be for my next post. Until then, pick up a copy of Mary Shelly's classic Frankenstein (you can even read it online) and think nice thoughts about SEO while you read it.


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