SEO Friendly Content: The Holistic Approach to Web Design

When I started in SEO, everyone wanted a silver bullet.  As the years passed, people still want a silver bullet, but more and more clients and companies realize that SEO is part of the web site design process, not a bolt on service.  Sure you can do bolt-on SEO spamming, but it’s really expensive, time consuming, and only worthwhile for very wealthy companies in hyper competitive areas.

I saw another business blogger talking about Promoting Your Business For Free, and there is a discussion of business tools like blogs and press releases, and using social media to get word out, but not a word about SEO.  What’s a shame is every piece of advice he has on that article is good for someone doing SEO.  Add a little bit of ideas on keyword research, focusing on the topics your potential customers are searching for, and you’d have the basics for writing SEO-friendly copy without getting into the details of keyword density and emphasis.

A press release and a spider-friendly “landing page” aren’t so dissimilar, and it amazes me that to this day there isn’t anyone really offering the combined SEO/PR service (hint, hint, keep an eye on my site, I’m working with a PR firm to put an offering together).  Twitter is a great way to reach like minded individuals, but not necessarily a great way to build sustainable traffic.

Search is Old News, Long Live Search

Media Post, looking for content, is running a series of “how I got into this mess” articles.  One caught my eye, Summer Stories: How I Became A Researcher.  So he got into search research in 2003, a little after I started my search research projects on behalf of  At the time, there was lots of “general” information out there, and lots of really technical detail from the quasi-tech side of the industry.

At the time, I remember a discussion with my father of all people.  A relative was managing PPC campaigns for people, and he was adamant that the organic side of search that I was doing was a waste of time, that the future was all PPC, and Google was going to have to follow Yahoo/MSN to PPC on top.  Why the up and coming search engine would follow that path that knocked Yahoo from top dog to also ran was unclear to me.  I also saw the economics of PPC, in a competitive market, profits go to zero, because as more people bid on the traffic, eventually the PPC price equals the expected revenue, and there is no margin.

Had I not worried so much about the long run, I would have augmented the organic with a nice PPC business.  Nonetheless, it’s amazing what is available now, off the shelf in 2009, that was impossible in 2001-2003.  Back then, mod_rewrite existed, but no other URL manipulation.  Most designers pushed content way down with embedded tables in the HTML, and other things that nobody would do now.  Our single table based layouts that let us move some content to the top was revolutionary at the time, now easily handled with CSS Layouts.

Every designer now understands usability, back then, they refused to read books on it.  The days of being able to grind out a few dozen pages in a competitive area and grab a top-5 rank for years may be gone, and buying PR 9 links for $50/year are gone, but the new opportunities at the intersection of search and social media are fascinating.

When I entered search in 2002/2003, I was a newcomer, because I hadn’t cut my teach in the Lycos/Altavista days.  Now, I’m watching the learning process for a new round of Internet Marketers, and it’s amazing to see what tools they have that we had to build, but then again, they are up against people with a decade of experience and a pile of custom tools on then.