The Image & Reality Of SEO

by Ruud Hein April 20th, 2012 
Photoshopped & real

We tell you to not just write but to write the best content. To engage with people on social networks. To wonder where and how to add your contact information to your website so you can send Google a other trust signal. To skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it's been, and so to figure out what Google's going to do (good luck on that one and please let us know when you figured it out!).

It's where we do suggest <title> changes, clean code, fix bugs.

It's where you go after quality links, investing hours in getting an A-list blogger to link to your site about lawn care services.

It's a world where nice guys finish first; #1 on Google, first page.

It's not true.

The Reality

Whatever you have read or heard about SEO and about Google's smarts, links are the name of the game and any well linked site will beat yours tomorrow if they want to. And I don't mean well linked in the sense of quality -- oh no, that has nothing to do with it. Quantity beats quality. Wanna know why? Because machines can't measure quality and so they approximate it with popularity. And popularity on the web means ... well linked. It's a vicious circle out there, folks!

The reality is that games work and both you and Google are being gamed. Deal with it.

The Pretty Picture

So why do we tell you those other things? Is this all smoke and mirrors? Snake oil?

We tell you, we instruct you so, because we care and it does matter. Yours is not a burner site you can just abandon for another Made For Adsense project; yours is your company site.

You're not running a scam; you're selling real things for real money to real people. No pay-per-installation malware is dropped on people's computers by your site and if it were to happen it is because your site got hacked by the bad guys.

When you get hard-earned, longed for prospects on your site, you don't want to feed them machine-generated or other badly written content: you want to woo them and give them your best.

You want to sell.

And in the end it's not just infinitely more effective but also much easier to keep your site in the index the right way, to garner links because your site is that damned good, to get social network attention from people instead of machines.

Reality is the pretty picture.

Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

Ruud Hein

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8 Responses to “The Image & Reality Of SEO”

  1. Leo Dimilo says:


    There is a caveat to that. Links in bulk quantity work until they stop working. And that's a huge issue when an SEO tries delivering results this way. Because typically links in bulk require automated software, link schemes, or paid services to deliver them. Many SEO's who wind up with the clean up work after the fact can attest to the misery of shaking down a poor link profile.

    • Ruud Hein says:

      True too. But here's the thing; a well linked, unoptimized site can rank while a well optimized, not so linked site can't. That remains a problem.

  2. Thin sites are getting hit by Google but as you say links are the key. It seems very bad in some ways that a web site with only 3 pages can out rank another site in the same niche that has over a hundred content rich pages all because they build thousands of back links.
    One day the spiders will catch up and be able to read content and they the days of thin content will be gone forever.

  3. Magnus says:

    I agree to some bits and pieces but would like to point out that there is always shades of gray. Quantity does not always beat quality and it doesn't have to be the very best just to be quality.

  4. Aura says:

    Ruud, I feel we are somehow missing the most important thing you pointed out.

    The reality is that our audience is made of people, not machines.

    Therefore, our actions should be intended for people, even if the way we reach the people is through machines' algorithms

  5. Akash Kumar says:

    You are right Ruud, links still dominate the search signals for rankings. All you need is links and too many of them.

    But I feel it has become a lot tougher these days to get so many links from related sites and pages without having something really useful for others.

    Aura has a made a good point, and I would like to continue on that. The audience is what matters if we have audience that means we have something that they like. Then eventually the links will come by themselves.

    Otherwise, I feel link building is still a tough job.