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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Who Wins - Website Design or SEO


Weighing the Benefits of Website Design with the Benefits of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) : January 4, 2006

I've been reading Matt Kutz Google Blog a lot recently and about the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) issues that he writes about. It makes me think about the balance that webmasters often make between beautiful design and Search Engine optimization. Which direction should you lean towards? Where should the line be drawn? Sometimes it can be very difficult to decide whether to design an eye-pleasing, user-friendly website or rather doing whatever you can to get that "coveted" first place with an important search term. This decision isn't an easy one to make and this subject has been greatly debated on the web. However, keep in mind, that there is no reason why you can't design a website that achieves both of these goals ... great design and great search engine optimization. So I went looking for discussions and arguments on the net for this topic.

Wikipedia : Send in the Clones

One of the longest and most varied discussions I found was on Wikipedia. It was less an entry about SEO but it is instead a discussion of how far Wikipedia should go in trying to outrank other sites using their information on Google. It kept me very occupied reading it and argues very well at both side of the coin.

Black Hat vs. White Hat Search Spam Debate

This is an article I read a month or so ago. It is basically a debate between two SEO experts (or at least two of the few recognizable names in the field.) One arguing the benefits of using black hat techniques, the other arguing that it is best to stay far on the white hat side of the line.

The Unethical SEO Myth

This next article argues that there aren't many techniques available to the webmaster that are unethical. The author believes that as long as you aren't doing anything illegal, and you aren't doing anything directly damaging to another site, then it is not unethical. The author comes off to me as a bit self-righteous as there are many things in life that are unethical but not necessarily illegal. However, he also does make some very reasonable points.

White Hat Search Engine Optimization

Of course in fairness, an article on white hat SEO. This one also gives some technique advice. I really have to question the author's viewpoint on search engines. He believes that search engines check how long a visitor stays on a website to see how relevant the search results are. All the reliable information I've read makes this seem unlikely to me. It isn't impossible, but I find it improbable. Overall a nice article though.

Of course, what the general web community finds ethical is generally a moving target. SEO techniques that seemed fine and even industrious when a small number of webmasters were using them, become a nuisance and are labeled unethical when they are over used and start to get in the way of what you are really looking for. Personally, I try and lean much closer to what I view as white hat techniques. I can't say the temptation has never been there to be more aggressive though, and I have had to make changes in my sites over the years to make sure my websites comply with the moving bar of what is "ok". Ok by who you may ask? Usually I think to myself when I see this being done by others, " does this practice take away from their site?" If the answer is' yes', and I am doing something similar, I try and change it. Of course I always keep a close eye on the Google bat too :-)

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Anonymous professional web designer said...

a lot have been discussing these, arguing which way they should take a good design or se friendly site.

2:27 AM


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