Its all about marketing your widget

Published in Web Development on Thursday, June 10th, 2004

Search engine optimization, done right, is all about marketing your widget.

Via Simon Willison, Against Search Engine Optimisers is worth a read. The rant, to a degree, showcases a common misconception of what good SEO really is: good marketing, not smoke and mirrors.

John Gruber's article, Writing for Google, is a good example of the point I would like to make here. In the article, John mentions the following:

What I’m talking about is writing one article in such a way that makes it the most likely that people who are searching for the information contained therein will be able to find it.

Know your market

Therein, ladies and gents, lies the golden nugget, and what lies at the heart of good marketing and therefore good SEO: know your market.

In order for John to do what he outlines, he needs to know and understand the market for his article.

Solid, long-term SEO means building an accessible website based on a deep understanding of your market and your user base. In the scope of marketing on the internet, the website is the interface between the (your) company and its market. To that end, it needs to be usable, it needs to provide what the users want and of course it needs to be found (all great reasons for pimping valid, semantic code).

Doing it right

Providing fresh, relevant, informative, accessible content in a manner that a user can find it is done first and formost by knowing your market.

Only after you've done your market research do things like optimization of on page factors and off page factors come into play.


It's interesting to read the Wired article about the nigritude ultramarine competition. In it, the winner of the first phase of the competition states that his success was based largely on backlinks.

Besides a few other little tricks they used to counter some Google filters, the competition was basically reduced to a backlink contest, because the marketing aspect of optimizing wasn't really available. The user or market in this case began and ended with the search engine.

In the end

So once again it comes down to users; as John wrote, write for people using search engines, not the search engines themselves; and to do that, get to know your market and the people in it.

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