I used to follow discussions on this “WebmasterWorld” forum, where a small group of old-timers would sit and analyze every single word of every text published by Google/Yahoo/Microsoft/whatever other search engines existed, getting their pants wet whenever they made the slightest (perceived) change in their blackbox algorithms and generally seeming extremely stressed out and dependent on these mega corporations.
To clarify: I don’t doubt that these few people were getting traffic from these search engines.
What I don’t believe is that it mattered at all, or virtually at all, how much or how little they did “SEO” on their websites. Of course, it goes without saying that each page should have a proper title, and not use a Flash animation which embeds all the text on the page, but that’s not “SEO” — that’s basic common sense.
Beyond having a minimum amount of basic intelligence, I do not believe that “SEO” exists or has ever existed.
That is, if by “SEO” you mean things that you can technically control, on your own website.
If by “SEO”, you mean using your social/business skills to get high-quality links from other websites, which are already big and popular and well received by the giants, then yes, I very much do believe that SEO exists, but that is not “SEO” to me. The “SEO”, at least to me, is the act of doing things technically that you control — not your role in the “ecosystem”.
I would spend countless hours, days, weeks, months, years making “perfect SEO”. I don’t mean that I posted a trillion unrelated keywords and stuff like that on every page. I just mean “doing it all right” according to the bullet points for “good SEO”.
I never got any traffic.
My problem was, of course, that I did not have any in-links from external, popular sites. This was hopelessly difficult even back in the early 2000s. Today, I don’t even try. I guess I don’t have what it takes to run a business, online or offline, but please stop pretending as if “SEO” makes a difference. They are lying to you.
The only thing that matters is whether you have been internally blessed by Google and/or have valuable links from other major websites. Making a bunch of fake websites that link back to you in large numbers, or spamming others’ with your links, does absolutely nothing. Spending your entire life polishing every single webpage to perfectly adhere to “SEO best practices” has essentially no effect whatsoever.
It’s all a big lie to get you all to make it easier for them to index your content.
Add to this the fact that evil scumbags will steal your content, get on top of you in the search results (because they own other major sites which can link to them and thus get better ranking), put ads all over your content and forever cash in on your hard work with zero ability for you to do anything about it, and you have the reason why I stopped even trying.