Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Optimizing Search Engine Optimization

My friend Alan wrote a little piece about “the tyranny of SEO” (Search Engine Optimization) and how search has left us unable to make interesting looking websites. While I understand what he was getting at, I fundamentally disagree with the premise (although, as he explains in the comments, he’s speaking specifically to the “SEO industry” and their reliance on Google tricks rather than good content).

Anyway, I was reminded of one of my standby examples for SEO and after giving it another read, figured it was worth sharing: Four years ago this month (wow), Anil Dash entered an SEO competition to see who could climb to the top of the results for a word, nigritude ultramarine, that previously had no results. Rather than looking for ways to game the system, Anil, a well known blogger, went with a simple approach: Ask his readers, many of whom were bloggers themselves, to link to his post with “nigritude ultramarine”. Fairly quickly he rose to the top and ended up winning the whole competition. Not surprisingly, this made the SEO consultants that Alan mentioned pretty unhappy.

Anil responded and wrote up his thoughts in a post titled “Optimizing Search Engine Optimization”. His conclusion, and the SEO strategy I’ve believed in for the last few years: “My suggestions? Write good content. Develop an audience that cares about what you’re doing. Do something that’s relevant to people in your field.”

While we’re on the topic, last year wrote and narrated a presentation on the fundamentals of markup-based SEO (in other words best practices for showing up high in search results without doing anything shady).

July 23, 2008