I use to believe this statement to be true, now i realize that SEO is a test to see just how creative you can be. You don't have to compromise your creativity to get optimum search traffic, use them to compliment each other.
SEO is a bit like writing with a writing prompt (here's a wordlist of 20 words! Write a story inspired by five of them!) or writing a poem in a particular meter. You still have freedom to write almost anything, but it provides a little structure.
Also, for me, I am looking through the search engine to the goal of the search engine: matching readers up with what they're looking for. It helps put me in a "what do my readers need from me to get a handle on this topic? What's important? What's useful?" frame of mind. It helps me focus, just as a thesis statement for an academic paper helps you organize and structure thoughts in a way that's organized and (hopefully) more readable.
I remember in junior high rebelling against the whole concept that an essay had to have a thesis statement. Why? It seemed so artificial and stupid. It took me a while to realize, "why would anyone want to read what you have to say, if you can't tell them what exactly you're talking about?"
Good SEO just means telling people -- and, yes, search engines -- what the heck you're talking about.
The only thing worth learning from the old, dinosaur SEO is to get the keywords in the title, summary and maybe the first paragraph (if your keywords don't appear naturally in the text, what on earth are you writing about?).
After that, it's the writing skills that cut in -- which Greekgeek has pointed out although for some reason she thinks thesis writing and article writing are SEO skills. Hegal obviously didn't have a clue, lol.
And why are writers skills so much more important than SEO? Because if you can't write something at least modestly original, backed up by some kind of research and in a readable format, the Panda will eat you. Then it doesn't matter what or how you write.
Also anything that detracts from the reading experience is a killer. Like un-related ads, pipes in titles, bolded keywords, obsessive repetition of copyright claims, links to your painting course in the Pyrenees and saying 'hi mom' between paragraphs. But then a conscientious writer would never do any of those things.
Nah, I'm just careless and tend to think and speak in a stream of analogies.
I guess I was trying to express the notion that keywords function like a thesis statement for webpages, answering the question "what's the point"?
I dunno. I should probably stick with the "writing prompt" analogy, because it implies more flexibility.
Well, I ain't no purist but the newbies get confused easily. This is still a powerful platform for anyone who can write well enough to answer searcher's needs.
Personally, I never mess with the text for SEO purposes. I let Google do it's job and it works out fine.
Absolutely, Will. Now that "keyword stuffing" has been outlawed, anyone who tries to artificially shoehorn keywords into a text is heading for a fall. We're really back to how my English teacher taught me to write an article - if you're writing about something, think of as many synonyms as you can, so that you're not constantly repeating the same word for it.
That way you naturally include a variety of keywords, and if you write a long piece, you're more than likely to repeat all of them often enough to achieve "good SEO"
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