Derek Powazek gave up smoking recently so any outward signs of irritability should be forgiven. That said, the anger in two of his recent posts is completely understandable: Spammers, Evildoers, and Opportunists and the follow-up, SEO FAQ.
His basic premise is money spent on hiring someone who labels themselves as an SEO expert would be better spent in producing well marked-up relevant content. I think he’s right. In the comments, the more reasonable remarks are based on semantics. Good SEO, they argue, is all about producing well marked-up relevant content.
Google—or at least the search arm of the company—is dedicated to a simple goal: giving people the most relevant content for their search. Google search is facilitated by ‘bots and algorithms, but it is fundamentally very human-centric.
Search Engine Optimisation is an industry based around optimising for the ‘bots and algorithms at Google.
But if those searchbots are dedicated to finding the best content for humans, why not cut out the middleman and go straight to optimising for humans?
If you optimise for people, which usually involves producing well marked-up relevant content, then you will get the approval of the ‘bots and algorithms by default …because that’s exactly the kind of content that they are trying to find and rank. This is the approach taken by Aarron Walter in his excellent book Building Findable Websites.
On Twitter, Mike Migurski said:
I think SEO is just user-centered design for robots.
…which would make it robot-centred design. But that’s only half the story. SEO is really robot-centred design for robots that are practising user-centred design.
Ask yourself this: do you think Wikipedia ever hired an SEO consultant in order to get its high rankings on Google?