Robert Leeper

Robert Leeper
Front-end Developer

<- Thoughts

Search engine optimization and accessibility

The other day, I asked whether our web standards are too high, thinking aloud about how I find obsessing over web standards validation to be a little ridiculous. I mentioned that good standards practices result in SEO benefits. A commenter then mentioned that he hates SEO—the term and the industry. I had to wonder: why would anyone hate the concept of optimizing a website's code so search engines can make sense of it?

Ignorance is bliss

I ran over to Wikipedia to get some quick info on SEO and then I saw it: SEO doesn't mean what I thought it meant. (see also: inconceivable)

Well, that's only partially true. It turns out SEO has two such sub-sets: white hat and black hat. What I have considered as "real SEO" up to this point is more accurately called "white hat SEO" (ie. the proper use of tags, clean code, and creating content visitors actually want). Really, all it amounts to is accessible web design and ethical marketing.

Black hat SEO, on the other hand, involves using all sorts of nefarious techniques to trick search engines into ranking you higher than you deserve and in places you don't belong. Black hat is evil and I don't support that mess. I'm fairly sure there's a special place in hell mentioned in Dante's Inferno for that sort of behavior.

SEO by any other name

I'm curious if there is a better term to use than "SEO" and what it would be. Accessible web design? Ethical web design?