Users Or Search Engines Is A False SEO Debate

Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, London, England is an amusing place to visit if you like to hear empassioned debaters. They often take up extreme positions so as to attract the crowd. Ideally if a few hecklers join in with counter-positions, it all adds to the fun.

You might imagine that Speakers’ Forum was not a suitable place to discuss how best to make websites perform well on the Internet. You would be right except that the online debate often resembles that Hyde Park scene.

That image came to mind in a recent post by Jill Whalen that talked about A Fatal Flaw In SEO. Those are dramatic words and you might wonder what would elicit such a headline. It turns out that Jill was incensed by a post by Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz. This had included in the title equally inflammatory language with the words, Terrible SEO Advice.

Jill said that Rand’s advice could

… potentially set SEO back at least at decade, in my opinion.

In the article, he apologized to his audience of budding SEOs for having ever told them to do what’s right for their users. In fact, he called putting your users first, “utterly false and tragically misleading.”

If you listen to this advice, your SEO will be fatally flawed from the get-go.

This is certainly soap-box rhetoric. Both have taken extreme positions. After all that’s what attracts the crowds, … and the comments, … and the backlinks, which is what SEO is all about, at least with Google.

Whichever you would label Black or White, neither is correct. The truth as usual is a shade of grey. You need a balance and should be considering both Users and the Search Engines at the same time. It’s probably 70% Jill’s advice and 30% Rand’s advice. The problem is that such a shade of grey will probably not stand out against the simple Blacks and Whites.

Equally if the best advice is somewhat more complex, some will opt for a simple approach that is supported by one of the luminaries of the SEO world. After all, that is what a Google search may indicate is the most relevant advice. The only saving grace here is that hopefully these contradictory positions will make some people realize that the true answer may lie somewhere in the middle.

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10 thoughts on “Users Or Search Engines Is A False SEO Debate”

  1. everything is fair in love and business, lol, It could be possible that many SEO’s are trying to fool public’s expectations, but we cannot question google. Search engine optimization is a very important part of internet marketing and a good SEO strategy is sometimes the difference between online success and failure. Good SEO strategy helps your website rank highly with search engines, resulting in more visitors and in turn more sales.

  2. You are absolutely correct – SEO needs to be “grey” aka submit to both the users and the search engines. Your content should absolutely be written for your users but titles tags and specific keywords need to be worked into the content for the engines.

    I think this Jill V.S Rand was a fantastic piece of link bait – my guess is that they both came up with this one together. :-X

  3. Everything should be shades of grey, but you’re right. People just won’t engage with well thought out, balanced articles. I’m inclined to favour Jill over Rand, but the fact that I hold an opinion on this debate shows how effective the viral nature of the two blogs has been.

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