Yesterday I entered into a conversation about search engine optimization (SEO), prompted by SEO is Today's Snakeoil.
I'll confess I've not taken the time to understand the intricacies of SEO and how I might apply it more fully to my work. I've bookmarked this article and its helpful resources so I can begin educating myself.
At the same time, I'm bothered by the implicit assumption in some quarters that communications must be molded to fit an SEO model. It's not that I'm opposed to enabling efficient searching. It's just that when SEO takes precedence over customer experience, I find myself digging my heels in. This has happened recently in my line of work.
To be clear, I'm not talking about the common sense recommendations, like making sure your links explain what you're linking to ("want to know more about SEO?" vs. the generic " 'click here' for more information.") Or about using "alt" and "title" attribute tags in your images and links.
I'm talking about things like a news organization nixing this blog title: "The A.C.E. Report: Arts, Culture & Entertainment in [a particular geographic location]" over the purportedly more search-engine friendly "Things to do in [a particular geographic location]." Or the plethora of posts on virtually everything that begin "Top 10 Reasons to [insert your favorite topic]."
Are professional communicators focusing too narrowly on one part of our role -- getting the word out about our clients or organizations -- at the expense of our primary function -- connecting meaningfully with the people we're trying to talk to?
Just throwing out some thoughts, none of which I've thought through with the kind of discipline that makes for a fully formed opinion. Feel free to poke holes or help me expand my thinking!