Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, has been the mantra of many a web consultant and website owner in search of maximizing their impact on the internet. In short, it attempts to boost organic traffic (the kind of traffic that you don't have to pay $$$ for) to your website. Since most folks find your website via a search engine, the focus usually is to 'trick' search engines into placing the link to your website higher than everyone else's.
Over the years, myriad schemes have been developed to achieve good SEO. And for every scheme that tries to exploit how a search engine works, the search engine providers come up with ways to nullify that exploit. It's like closing loop holes in the tax code except that Google is much better at it than Congress.
A search engine has only one goal: to give the person searching for something what she is looking for. If it can't do that well, no one is going to use it.
So what does that mean for your website? Firstly, search engines look at every stitch of information on your website. Unlike us, however, they don't draw conclusions about what you are trying to say, or meant to say. They simply look at what is there and try to infer whether there's enough to match what a prospective searcher is looking for. SEO can help, a little, to bridge the gap between what is on your site and what it means, but in the long run it's more like a placebo than a cure. Good writing that truly expresses what you do or offer and reflects what your specific audience is looking for is what you need.
Secondly, most SEO is temporary. If you choose to hire an SEO expert, expect this to be an ongoing process, not a one-time expense. Google changes the way its search engine works at least a couple times a year, as the search engine changes, so must your SEO strategies. Alternatively, if you make a commitment to update and add new content to your website at least twice a year, the search engines will continually have more opportunities to present your website to those searching for what you have to offer.
So do I really hate SEO? No, not really. I simply feel that for most websites, it's too costly and misleading for the return. The content management systems that we offer include most of the best practices recommended by search engines and do more with each update. All that is left to you is to make sure that you tell your story clearly and effectively. The way you would when you're talking to a real person.