Search Engine Optimisation experts like us to think that they understand things we don’t, that their task is truly specialist and that we need their expertise. It reminds me of the way doctors sometimes behave, using long words as a way of convincing us that they understand things in a special way. For example, they might refer to us as suffering from “infective nasopharynigitis” – sounds complicated and dreadful doesn’t it? yet all it means is you have a cold. Similarly, SEO experts might tell you that you need to consider the impact of ensuring that your “CMS accurately produces H1s” – in other words, your website software needs to put a headline on each page.
Using jargon and six words where two will do is a common technique of job protectionism. Doctors do it, lawyers do it – heck even psychologists do it – and so do SEO specialists. It is part of the method by which we divide our working world into social groups and exclude others from them. The result is that jobs often appear more complex and difficult than is the case. And that is as true for search engine optimization as it is for brain surgery.
This is shown in a recent study looking at “GEO specific URLs and their relation to SERP results”. Translated that means: does having a place name in your website address affect the position you get when people search for something related to your locality. Which is a bit like asking if having the name of your company in your domain name affects where you will come on the search results when people Google you.
Do we really need “experts” to study the obvious? What they have discovered is that if you have a locality in your domain name and people search for something in your local area, guess what, you appear higher in the search engine rankings than similar websites that do not include the geographical information in their URLs.
It is all rather like saying, if you want to be found when people search for the word “printer” that you ought to include that word in your domain name. It is not the proverbial rocket science to work that out.
Yet, every day you will find debate on forums, questions on LinkedIn or Quora or Yahoo! Answers all asking whether or not you ought to include words in URLs, or whether you should have hyphens in domain names, or whether you can use capital letters and so on. The reason for such questions is that SEO specialists have made us all think their world is some complicated, difficult blend of science and art and that you need a massive amount of technical understanding. Some search marketing companies do not help matters by offering a “university” on the subject, when all they mean is either a half-day seminar, or some downloadable training materials.
Search Engine Optimisation is frequently not as complicated as it seems. If you want to be found for something then your page clearly needs to be about it. That means the page title needs to say what it is, the headline needs to reflect it as does the text and the pictures you use. Do that and people looking at your page will know what it is about – as will any search engine. After all, Google’ own advice is “do not write for search engines” but write for people instead.
Of course, there are some technical aspects of SEO which are complex, which lay “behind the scenes” and which require expert knowledge and advice. But for the most part getting your web pages well-ranked in search engines is pretty obvious stuff.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+