SEO, and why it’s stupid

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Its sole purpose for existing is to push content to the top of Google and the like. Some feel SEO to be a grubby industry, while others have built a living out of it. Some practitioners treat SEO as a religion that must be obeyed. This website makes use of an automated SEO tool to help ensure articles are of a high quality. The picture below shows what the tool displays at the start of the article writing process. The biggest criticism of SEO though is that it prioritises well promoted crap at the expense of great content.

Screenshot of SEO plugin

The CallamMcMillan.com site SEO tool

Look at these rules. It would appear that all that is needed to create a great article is a keyword density of between 1 and 4.5%. A minimum article length of 300 words. Add a meta description. An image of two like the one above helps. We’ll also add a link, perhaps this one. It goes to a page about SEO on Wikipedia. The content has to be easy to read. This sounds good, but it relies on a silly formula that uses sentence length. Use. Lots. Of. Full. Stops. And. The. Readability. Score. Goes. Up. While. The. Actual. Readability. Becomes. Rubbish! Don’t forget you need to spam that keyword all over your page. It needs to be in the URL, the title (At the beginning), subheadings and the first paragraph. Finally, pick a suitable keyword and don’t make the title too long or short. There you go, spam your page all over the Internet, and you’re set for SEO success.

What should SEO look like?

The next step in SEO has to be a move away from this rule-based approach. Natural language analysis such as that used by IBM in Watson may be the way forward. Rather than evaluating the page against a set of terms that the search engines consider important, look at the intrinsic value of the content. This would mean that off-page ranking factors would no longer need to be considered quite as highly. As a result, small websites such as this would be able to compete much easier with larger sites by providing highly-relevant content. Spam sites on the other hand could quickly be punished.

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