Every day I hear my partner or someone in the team speak about Keyword Rankings, Alexa, Google rank Dropping, Panda updates and so on.. And I just got the feeling that we are doing “Search Engine Over Optimization” (SEOO) and decided to write about it. So what is Search Engine Over Optimization for a startup? Is it bad? Is SEO dead? And how much businesses focus on the same?
SEO ofcourse have its place!
So, to be clear, I am not against Search Engine Optimization. SEO is good and is almost needed for many content focussed business. SEO articles across the web helps you make your site more accessible to Robots and also in many ways, help improve User Experience etc. Rich snippets, for example, can be so useful info for Robots as well as the visitors searching for those related keywords. Well formed page titles can quickly let a user know what the page is all about. Tags can help users/visitors see related content together and improve internal navigation and reach the correct piece of content he or she is looking for.
So why does our focus shifts only to Robots?
We all know that our ultimate aim is to get good quality visitors and they can be acquired via many other channels. If our content is really good, if our website is extremely useful, its bound to be shared and liked. And Google Robots will have to take notice of the same. All of us see Search traffic as a very significant channel and hence we try to push more. Tweaking every way, here and there, to get noticed by Google Robots. We end up forgetting that the focus has to be content and not those tweaks.
What is Search Engine Over Optimization then?
Symptoms of Search Engine over optimization would be management team, founders, non-seo team members constantly searching for keywords and tracking the Google ranking for those permutations and combinations of keywords almost once or twice every day. SEO Team recommending some urgent changes to be made because Google may seem to have changed something with their algorithm. And because some self-acclaimed SEO Expert says making some changes would significantly change page ratings with the new Blah blah Google updates.
I feel that SEOO could be a dangerous game and hurts more than anything else. It simply ends up clouding you by SEO and end up having a negative impact. “We need to have some outbound links here to some high quality pages…” Something that the user is not going to appreciate a lot.
Going into this mind frame of doing things only for Search engines and not for your users, is Search Engine Over Optimization.
Should we stop worrying about Search Results then?
I just had an amazing chat with my partner on the topic and he had one very valid argument. Would you sit back when others are doing this over optimization and getting good results? Would it make business sense to loose revenue and traffic to your competing websites, just because they are trying to understand those Google Penguin updates better? Should we not worry at all?
I would say, Yes we must definitely keep an eye on Google updates etc.. and make sure that our site is user friendly first and search engine friendly next and also ensuring that we have W3C compliant website and as per Search engine guidelines too. But we must also not forget that there are other channels to acquire customers and more importantly, serving them in the best possible way, so they definitely admire your website/brand must be the top priority and not the 20% Traffic Drop because of some Google updates. If you are doing things right, that traffic would come back.
In fact, it has been a blessing in disguise for us, as we started to correct many on-page errors, exploring offline channels for promotion among other activities. Only time will tell whether not giving much importance to Google traffic drops would hurt us more or not. But my advice would be dont Kill yourself if Google does not get it right when you the best content available. They would fix it eventually.
What are your thoughts? Is there something called too much SEO? How do you react when traffic drops? Over SEO? Share your stories with us!