Types of SEO

Following up on Reputational Assault: Web Designers and SEOs, I think it may be helpful to some readers if I clarify that there is more than one way to optimize a website. Roughly, these divide into two camps:

There is the kind of SEO that gets ranted about: hijacking other people's website pages in order to rank those well, cloaking (feeding a different page to the search engines than the "real" page given to people), or auto-generating zillions of gibberish pages that may rank well and then lead to another page. If you've ever searched for something and found pages from different domains that seem to lead all to the same website in the search results, you may be seeing something along these lines at play.

I don't see this as optimizing a website — that is, making a website as optimum as possible in order to play well in search engines. If web designers can appreciate the value, for instance, of semantic coding or Web Standards coding for browsers and current and future devices, it isn't too much of a stretch to consider that designing a website to encompass yet another type of visitor (search engines) is a good thing. That's about what it amounts to.

Truthfully, there's been a long-running argument about the former and the latter in the SEO "community" (if the people who have been hanging out in forums for years can be called that). It's gotten quite ugly at times, and seems always to be bubbling beneath the surface.

So there you go.

Updated 5/6/05: to clarify, I'm talking about taking a regular, legitimate website and setting it up better so that it ranks well for its key terms. There is always value in that, for the website owner and for visitors, for whom it is much better than searching for a page that may exist but is so buried in the search engine results that one gives up looking for it. It's also night-and-day different from the duplicate pages, auto-generateed gibberish pages, hidden text or hidden whatever-else-they-do that is called "black hat" even amongst the SEO community.

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