Saturday, 23 February 2008

Conflicting SEO Advice

Tonight I received an email from a website owner, who I'll call Sally, asking what to do when faced with conflicting SEO (search engine optimization) advice. Sadly this happens a lot in the SEO world.

SEO is based on a set of loosely-defined rules about what to do and what not to do in order to climb higher up the SERPs (search engine result pages). Do all the good things, avoid the bad things and it should work.

The problem is that no-one knows exactly how all the search engines perform their calculations so there is some uncertainty about how valid certain rules are. Some rules are undisputed (e.g. don't get involved in link farms, don't put 100 h1 tags on your page), but many rules are the subject of ongoing debate (e.g. don't buy text links, don't trade irrelevant links).

The best thing you can do is search webmaster forums for topics covering the advice you've been given. You'll probably need to wade through a lot of annoying arguments and it might take up to half an hour to read enough opinions to form your own. You'll also encounter a lot of jargon that you might not understand but don't worry about it - in most cases there's a reasonably clear majority opinion that you should be able to recognize.

One of the best webmaster forums is sitepoint.com. You could also try our own web design forum.

In my next post I'll look at the conflicting advice Sally received and pronounce my verdict (go there now).

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