This got into my mailbox a few days ago:


This is the third time an Indian dude (I checked the IP address) took time to go to my contact page and answer the CAPTCHA just to send spam about SEO; I think it’s a good time to speak my mind about SEO in general.

But first, let’s talk about how wrong this approach is.

If you’re going to offer to do business with me, you should have at least read my About page. There you should have realized that (a) I’m not doing this site for money, popularity, or the like and (b) I am an experienced software engineer and I could probably do better than you in SEO if I put some effort in it.

This display of ignorance alone is enough to make me throw your mail into the spam folder of my mailbox.

And now, back to the topic of SEO.

To me, Search Engine Optimization is like investing in stocks. You can go the slow-and-steady Warren Buffett way, or you can go the “get rich quick” day trading way.

Most SEO (including the spam I got) falls under the latter; both this “hardcore” SEO and day trading promises huge profits for little effort. In reality, it’s the opposite—in the long run, the costs of using these two approaches often overshadow whatever profits you would gain.

A better approach for both SEO and trading would be to stick to the basics and take things slow. Here’s just some of the basics:

  • Make your site SEO friendly, but don’t go overboard. For a WordPress site, this would mean getting a domain with your name on it, enabling pretty permalinks, installing All in One SEO Pack and Google XML Sitemaps, and adding either Google AdSense or Google Analytics somewhere in your themes. Anything beyond that is overkill IMO.
  • Write interesting posts. Getting people to want to read your posts is really the best SEO you could do.
  • Rubbernecking or writing stupid controversial things are fine (hey, it’s your site!), but I personally won’t recommend it. You might get a lot of hits at first, but don’t expect that to last once you get labeled as a douchebag.
  • Join relevant communities and talk to people. If you’re nice and interesting enough, you don’t even need to advertise your site address—they’ll be the ones to look it up.
  • Be consistent. You don’t need to post something everyday, but try not to leave your site un-updated for more than a few months.

Granted, some of the basics take a lot of effort (like writing interesting posts) and may even take more time and effort than “hardcore” SEO, but you’ll be more certain of getting higher exposure in the long run. The key here is that you shouldn’t focus on putting your site on the top of the result lists. Instead, you should focus on the quality of your site: getting on the top of the result lists will automatically follow.

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