Search Engine Optimization
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing a website to improve its ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) and increase the visibility and accessibility of a website to search engines like Google. SEO involves a range of strategies and tactics that aim to improve the ranking of a website in search engine results for specific keywords or phrases.
Some common SEO tactics include:
On-page optimization: This involves optimizing the content and structure of a website to make it more search engine friendly. This can include optimizing the title and meta tags, optimizing the content of pages, and using header tags and alt tags to describe images and other media.
Off-page optimization: This involves building high-quality links from other websites to your own. Search engines use links as a way to measure the quality and relevance of a website, so the more high-quality links a website has, the more likely it is to rank well in search results.
Technical SEO: This involves optimizing the technical aspects of a website to make it more accessible and crawlable by search engines. This can include optimizing the site’s URL structure, using sitemaps to help search engines find and index pages, and optimizing the site’s loading speed.
Keyword research and optimization: This involves identifying the keywords and phrases that people are using to search for the products or services that your website offers, and then using those keywords and phrases throughout your website’s content to make it more relevant and visible to search engines.
SEO is an important part of any online marketing strategy, as it helps to increase the visibility and accessibility of a website to search engines, which can lead to increased traffic and revenue.
Now wasn’t that just the driest thing you ever heard? Oh and thanks to whoever ChatGPT must have nearly verbatim lifted that from. Ain’t AI-whitewashed plagiarism a pip? I doubt I’ll keep that as the text on this page very long, but hey, you have to start somewhere.
Now I will tell you what ChatGPT can not. This page is a celebration of my field which has received the moniker “Search Engine Optimization”, as if we optimized search engines. I guess in a way we do, and so went the discussion over on SerachEngineForums.com, a.k.a. JimWorld under the old VirtualPromote family of sites. We’re talking late-90s, while AltaVista still ruled the Search Engine roost. I took up the field way back then, and it has been good to me.
This site is a bit of an indulgence. I punch the clock for a living, more or less. I love it. I’m a hired samurai of the information age, full-time on-staff, God bless. I don’t have to deal with payroll or founder-itis. You do what you love, so you start a business. You now no longer do what you love. I don’t like that. My dad liked drawing a paycheck. I like drawing a paycheck.
It’s my vibe. Some may look down on it, but it’s the purest exercising of real internal capabilities. You can exchange your time, attention and energies into economic product. You can get paid for doing stuff others can not so easily do. It’s a hard-skill, a lot like woodworking. It’s based on craft and traditional tools you can get better at forever, like vim. I love it.
But it is not pure SEO I love anymore, as if it was ever really my main thing. No, it’s expressing yourself in shape and form and timing. It is performance art, for sure. But it’s performance art in how a wizard might cast spells through magical incantations. I lost 99% of you right there. But for the 1% that remains, you know what I mean.
Gesture-magic is graphical user interface-like. There’s windows and you’re swiping through them, tapping menu options and the like. Read (or listen on Audible) to Off To Be The Wizard with Martin, Merlin and company. Really good take on it all. But in a truer sense than we like to admit, moving text around is quite magical.
With my favorite brand of magic, incantations, you breath autonomy and purpose into what was before inanimate. If not truly alive, machinery doing your bidding is at least as good as a homunculus. If anyone tells you that technology today does anything less than the role and purpose of a mythical magical homunculus, then they don’t get the fact that magic is gradually becoming real, because sufficiently complex technology might as well be.
This is what I truly love about my field more than getting some particular website or other performing well in search. One leads to the other as it turns out. But I love all the interesting, stimulating work I’m asked to do as an SEO in the course of conducting some investigation. Gather ye timeless, internalized skills while ye may.
This is the website that I would have liked. It’s what I wish somebody would have made for me or led me to while I was young. The world is full of tricks, and you ought to know a bunch of them so that you can trade your time for economic resources conveniently. They can’t take that away from you. In the choice between being the Walrus or the Carpenter, choose the Carpenter. Or at least, I do. That’s my vibe.
SEO, pishaw! Sure I do it. But I take greater pleasure in sharing with you the unlikely adventure through various technologies and heartbreaks leading up to where I am today, which is a very loveworthy place. I loved the Amiga by Commodore. It going away as a lifetime vibe-alignment focal-point broke my heart.
I’d been exploring and looking for other things to find just as love-worthy as the Amiga computer for twenty years. The tech I talk about here with you on this website, and over on my personal website where I blog like this continuously is it. It’s Linux, Python, vim and git… with various qualifications.
I have a lot to offer you. The Rabbit Hole runs deep. First, any tech will do that works well for you for the situation. Don’t let some notion of purity or ideals get in your way of getting the work done. Don’t automate everything right away. Do it manually for a bunch of times to get down the nuance. Describe a process in the spoken word. Journal. Blog. Whatever. Vocalizzzzze it. It helps you think.
What I vocalize here with absolute consistency is the line from Godfather 3 from 1990, when I think I’m out, they pull me back in. That’s SEO. People will value you for being able to do it, because it’s operating from a position of I strength. If you can be the one people are recommended to by natural search, then your competitor isn’t. It’s a double-whammy win and everybody wants that.
Problem being that Google has been progressively more difficult to trick over the years, and with the rise of AI, you’re pretty much not going to be able to trick Google at all before long. Where does that leave all the SEO professionals whose main set of skills was tied to a time long ago, when PageRank ruled the Earth.
Today and certainly in the near future, AIs will know websites the way humans know websites. Is there something unique and new there you’re learning from? Is it something different than all the other schlock competing for an ad impression on that same topic?
For 99% of the people and sites out there, the answer is No. They offer nothing different than a sort of skillful regurgitation of all that is common and A/B-tested to get the click. You can feel it in the YouTube algorithm today. Greed for sure, but also a defensible sprinkling of merit. Even that Beast contest guy has skill worth rewarding.
Problem is folks like me. We’re the invisible experts, behind closed-doors for ages, monitoring data and tweaking systems for ages. Experience beyond the bombastic boorish hawkers of hyperbole that can land million-view videos with ease. But yes, that squirrel obstacle course took skill and I do acknowledge that. But landing a NASA job with mad skills like that is a home-run. What I’m peddling and advocating here is being the best at something, supplemented with only the ability to hit solid singles in the social medias.
Trust the algorithms and the AIs to evolve. If you have something truly unique and novel to offer the world, and there’s even some small audience somewhere capable of recognizing and appreciating that fact, then the AIs will (eventually) too. It’s still all tricks, but now it’s the trick of being truly best at some thing, and generally acknowledged as worth listening to by others like you.
Finally, a Sea-Change in SEO (Because of AI)
SEO is undergoing its first sea-shift in decades because of AI. You can’t trick Google. Or at least, you won’t be able to for very much longer. Do you think that the kind of intelligence being expressed by the OpenAI stuff doesn’t exist a hundredfold better behind the closed doors of Google? It’s just a matter of time now as they phase out PageRank and page-to-page linking in general as a primary relevancy signal.
Signals Abound & Anything Might Be a Signal
There are a lot more signals to read today, and they have to crisscross verify that you are the compellingly best thing to be served on this or that. You must put your best foot forward now in everything you publish. Old stuff that used to be the dribs and drabs of long-tail traffic catching net that had no harm in leaving published as a sort of archive can now harm you. The age of site-sculling is back, but not for PageRank flow and instead for a perfectly righteous, but still rather shallow, hierarchy of overall fewer URLs.