My Yahoo news alert for “search engine optimization” sent me a link this morning to a Q/A article from USATODAY.com about SEO. A small business asked a question about bringing more traffic to her site, saying she had paid for “submission” services with unsatisfactory results. Ugh, people still fall for that?
The journalist talked to a “SEO expert”, which was really a web design firm for some suggestions.
Here’s my beef with the article:
Web designers are not search engine optimization experts. In fact, it’s web designers that keep most of us SEO practitioners so busy. That said, most SEOs are not web design experts either, with few exceptions.
Flash smashing. The issue with indexing Flash is brought up. Recommendation: Use less Flash. What’s the problem with that? It’s not the use of Flash that’s an issue, it’s the absence of text.
Use Flash all you want, but use it intelligently and make sure there is sufficient text for a search engine spider so it can understand and score the page. Sure, it is not very search engine friendly to make an entire site with one Flash movie. However it is fine to use Flash within an HTML design that also includes text.
Over-meta. The next suggestion involved meta tags. The article does not specify the types of tags. The importance of the keyword meta tag is so low it is not worth mentioning. Using specific keywords in the title tags is a good recommendation though as is the use of the meta description tag for a page summary.
Link exchange. The one that gets me is, “It is similarly a good idea to engage in some quality link exchanges with other good sites.” Bzzzzzz, wrong answer.
Link exchanges are not the foundation of a link building campaign. Is it ok to exchange links with other sites? Sure, if you would have linked to those sites without the existence of search engines. It also helps if the sites are of a related topic. For example, an ecommerce gardening tools site that links to a gardening tips blog and vice versa.
Yahoo directory inclusion is still up for debate. I opt in about 50% of the time based on the client’s budget. The best linking strategy is to create content that is so compelling, that other sites will link to it. Producing great content over time can generate a sort of momentum that will attract links without having to ask for them.
In the meantime, a mix of relevant directory links, backlink analysis on competitors, article syndication, social bookmarking, press releases and offline advertising (which was a suggestion in the article) are all good ways to generate one way links into your site.
I do realize it could have been worse and also that space limitations in short articles like these as well as a mass audience hinders the writer’s ability to be thorough. But using outdated or incomplete information from sources that may not be “expert” in search engine optimization simply propogates it as a crapshoot marketing tactic.
So how do you find a search engine optimization expert you can trust? You could search Google for one, or go to a Search Engine Strategies or WebmasterWorld Pubcon conference, visit SEO forums and SEO blogs.