Occasionally, I come across a fellow blogger that announces in apparent disdain, “I don’t do SEO.” As if search engine optimization is somehow a bad thing to do, proof that you’re not a true writer, because real writers are artists, they create, and you can’t be a true artist if you engage in something as technical as SEO.
But SEO is not a bad thing, and writing with search engines in mind does not make your writing inferior, as long as you write mainly for human readers. SEO simply means helping search engines figure out what your site is about, so that they can index it properly.
While a human would probably figure out the topic of an article even if you only used its main keywords once or twice, search engines typically need more than that (although the Google engineers are working hard on making their search engine eerily intuitive). They need you to sprinkle your main keyword throughout the text and they also need it in the title tag and, ideally, in your domain name.
If you can also arrange to get a link to your article or blog from an external site that uses your keyword in its anchor text, congratulations! You’ve done an outstanding job of making it crystal clear to search engines what your article, blog or website is all about.
There’s nothing wrong with making sure that search engines index your site properly. This is actually a very good thing, not just for your site, but also for readers, because if all sites are properly indexed, users will be spared the frustrating experience of searching for information and landing on sites that are completely irrelevant to their search.
Of course, black hat SEO, which attempts to achieve high rankings for low-quality sites using dubious methods, is indeed a bad thing, for users and for search engine providers such as Google. But the good news is that over the last decade Google did an amazing job of fine-tuning its search algorithm and getting to a point where it became futile to try and game the system and bring spam sites to the top of the search engine result pages.
SEO helps all of us because it creates a better Internet user experience and it makes sure that only the highest quality, most relevant sites come up when you search for information or for a product on the Web. And this is a very good thing indeed.