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.