Blog post titles can be fun. This post isn’t as much about algorithmic SEO versus content SEO as it is about a balance. ClickZ posted an interesting article recently on algorithm chasing from the last Search Engine Strategies conference that distinguishes the difference between algorithmic search engine optimization and content based optimization.
The message was that paying too much attention to the latest algorithm change or relying on “holes” in search engine algorithms may only yield short term results. And that an emphasis on content provides the best long term results.
Considering the type of work we do at my SEO firm, I can see the up and down in this. But here’s my take. I do think it’s important to understand the fundamental nature of how information retrieval works to really be able to get the most out of an optimization project. Often times I hear “content purists” confuse attempts at understanding how search engines work with “gaming” them and it’s just not the same thing.
There is a competitive advantage in understanding algorithm functions that power search engines says Mike Grehan, of Smart Interactive and Websourced. Fundamental search engine indexing and ranking methodologies still have a hand in how most major search engines work (HITS, PageRank) and understanding them can be very useful in terms of site architecture, code or technical optimization as well as content optimization.
That does not mean “chasing” the algorithm and making changes to a site every time Google applies for another patent or publishes another white paper.
Today, WebProNews posts an article by David Tiberio called, “Reverse – Engineering Search Engine Ranking Algorithms” that should melt the mouths of those that want to start getting into a little more than the basics.
Can a site rank well without digging into the search engine algorithm business? Yes, of course! There are plenty of sites that end up executing a search engine friendly site development and promotion program correctly. They do this by ensuring the site is easy for search engines to find and index, focusing on fresh, themed content and from an ongoing link building program.
Many sites will do well with basic site optimization. Many other sites will need optimization that involves a more in depth understanding of how search engines work. In both cases, content plays an important part.