One of Jill Whalen’s readers asks a common question and, in giving the correct answer, Ms. Whalen points out how the professional SEO community frequently mis-informs marketers interested in optimizing Web pages — search engine optimization (SEO). She implies important truths that demand your attention:
1) Optimizing your Web pages for “search engine friendliness” is different than “maintaining top search engine results placement.”
2) Your goal should NOT be to maintain top ranking/placement in search engine results. Your goal SHOULD be to keep your site optimized for “friendliness” (readability by robots) not to achieve rankings.
This is not a game of semantics so much as a lesson in the definition of “black hat” and “white hat” techniques. Today’s search engine algorithms exist to rank Web page relevance using a variety of scoring techniques (quality, frequency of update, type of links to and from the page, etc.)… none of which are not intended to be so well-understood that they invite your manipulation through “optimization” practices that play on its inherent weaknesses.
In short, SEO isn’t an industry or a service. It’s a Web development practice — a skill set that requires your understanding and demands your respect. Simple guidelines are published by major search engines are should be honored. Period. The entire notion of needing to continue to execute a “Google dance” properly is one founded on a fundamentally flawed approach.
In simple terms, the moment that you start thinking “Hey, if I just make this adjustment to this page I think I’ll tend to rank higher for this keyword/term” STOP. You’re near the line if not already across it.