The grand conspiracy of SEO agencies

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Search engine optimization isn't always about getting better listings in search engines. More frequently, SEO is quietly rescuing second-rate websites. Most websites are second-rate. They are built by second-rate coders who are either lazy, barely competent, stupidly arrogant, or a combination of all three. Many web designers fall into this category. Their sites often look great while being almost incomprehensible to search engines. These sites have been coded without any regard for best practice in HTML coding and without any recognition that every website has two audiences -- humans and search engines. It's possible to build a site that works properly, looks great to humans, but that a search engine can barely process. Most sites are like that.

The grand conspiracy of SEO agencies

Search engine optimization is only about outranking your competitors when some of your competitor websites have decent coding. Since the quality of coding on most websites is truly awful, your site can usually outrank the competition merely by being coded properly. Link building, developing authoritative status, and all the other talked-about SEO techniques are usually only required if your site has quality competition. Most of the time, all that is required to stand out from the ocean of second-rate coding that surrounds us is that your site be coded with some care and attention by people who know how to code properly.

 

Comments

Adam Hutchins
Adam Hutchins November 14, 2013 at 7:55 AM

"What sort of idiot would code multiple copies of exactly the same thing?", "If there were enough coders to meet the demand, we could do the world a favor and throw these people out into the street where they belong.”, "They are built by second-rate coders who are either lazy, barely competent, stupidly arrogant, or a combination of all three. Many web designers fall into this category.”

Wow. Angry little man, aren't you? Arrogant academic. You should know better than to use "most" and other overstatements when making a point. BTW, stylistically it's best to use "first", "second", etc. rather than the superfluous, "firstly", "secondly", etc. I question the professional advice of someone who views everyone but himself, a moron.

Al Loise
Al Loise November 11, 2013 at 11:58 AM

"Link building, developing authoritative status, and all the other talked-about SEO techniques are usually only required if your site has quality competition. Most of the time, all that is required to stand out from the ocean of second-rate coding that surrounds us is that your site be coded with some care and attention by people who know how to code properly."-This is perhaps the most laughable statement in an article of exaggerations and hyperbole. I'm curious what are these verticals he is referring to that don't require link building, developing authoritative status etc? He's sitting on a gold mine!

Roberta Oyakawa
Roberta Oyakawa November 11, 2013 at 10:36 AM

Being someone who has built many top quality, search engine optimized websites with extreme attention to detail, performance, error-free and well-commented code, and efficient CSS, I certainly understand the premise of your article and believe that some of what you characterize is going on out there. However, I find it hard to get past your delivery. Your harsh and sweeping characterizations of most web developers as lazy, stupid, barely competent, arrogant, second-rate, moronic, grossly-neglectful, thoughtless, idiotic donkeys with their brains in neutral comes across as contrived for the sake of getting attention. Maybe instead of scouring your thesaurus for every insulting adjective you could find, you should have put some time into brushing up on your html. Uppercase tags haven't been seen since pre-HTML 4.

Obi-Wan Plunkett
Obi-Wan Plunkett November 11, 2013 at 9:04 AM

"Search engine optimization is only about outranking your competitors when some of your competitor websites have decent coding. Since the quality of coding on most websites is truly awful, your site can usually outrank the competition merely by being coded properly. Link building, developing authoritative status, and all the other talked-about SEO techniques are usually only required if your site has quality competition. Most of the time, all that is required to stand out from the ocean of second-rate coding that surrounds us is that your site be coded with some care and attention by people who know how to code properly."

So true.. however.. not ALL agencies are like this.. some have SEO departments that work with the UX department, Program/Project Manager, Copywriting and the Creative department.

Website redesign = Client: "WOW we have a website that gets search traffic now"

Every single time.. Brand Stabilization and Classification.. then Competition. =)

p.s. it's not a scam.. sometimes the lead SEO is the person making sure the budget isn't wasting the clients money.. problem is, too many people don't get it.. but it is that simple..

The 4 C's - Classification, Customers, Clarity, Content


"SEO isn't a project, it's a process.." (Google it)

Nick Stamoulis
Nick Stamoulis November 11, 2013 at 8:07 AM

While some SEO agencies might be "in cahoots" with the design firm not all of us are! We have an in-house designer/developer because we know how much the design and back-end of a website can affect it's SEO performance. If a site has some serious design issues that are going to hinder our work I want the client to know so they don't start blaming me when things aren't going according to plan!

Tom Pick
Tom Pick November 11, 2013 at 7:38 AM

Hi Brandt - thoughtful and detailed post as always, but I must take exception to your basic premise that "Most of the time, all that is required to stand out from the ocean of second-rate coding that surrounds us is that your site be coded with some care and attention by people who know how to code properly." Between greater awareness of SEO principles and Google reducing the amount of space it devotes to organic results (so it can sell more ads), SEO has become more difficult, and vital. Solid SEO is a mixture of art and science. Writing clean code is a big part of the science, and you've done a bang-up job of explaining that here. But a designer can develop the overall page structure, understand the various audiences for a website and their different information needs, do keyword research, write copy that appeals both to humans and search engines, develop social authority for the content, etc. The art of SEO is equally important.