Don’t be the little website that couldn’t

Posted on October 15, 2010


The Little Engine That Could is a heart-warming tale perfect for boosting the morale of any five-year-old. It encourages children to persevere with hard tasks, telling them that no matter how small they are, no obstacle is unconquerable if enough effort is involved.

The_Little_Engine_That_CouldIt’s a touching tale, but it gives altogether the wrong impression. A lot of things can only be achieved through subtlety. Pushing along while chanting ‘I think I can’ is often a guaranteed way to fail. In many ways, children would be better served by being force-fed Machiavelli. It’s not likely to become a popular idea, though, so the best thing to do is learn some subtlety as an adult.

This is a particular lesson to be learned for search engine optimisation. A lot of companies think that they can make number one in the SERPs, if only they try hard enough. The difficulty is, though, that the more obvious your on-page and off-page SEO, the less likely it is to have the right effect.

Search engine optimisation requires a subtle touch. When applying SEO techniques to your pages, try to think more about what your site users are likely to want and enjoy, rather than the technical details you’ve absorbed from various SEO forums and SEO advice blogs. The search engines are likely to pick up on the subtle details and reward them, just as much as they’re likely to pick up on the obvious SEO tricks and clamp down on them.

Some websites really do look like they’ve been hit with an SEO hammer. Filling your pages with obvious keywords and optimising your site to the hilt is going to do you more harm than good. If the average reader can spot your keywords, you’re doing something wrong.

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