SEO = black magic?

Occult Owl by jrbrubaker (

Occult Owl by jrbrubaker (

So I’ve been looking and doing some reading on Search Engine Optimization for a little project lately; though I’ve been on the web for quite some time already I’ve never really looked into SEO specifics. I suppose you could say I’ve taken some facts for granted, based on my own understanding of markup et al.

I know the usual, like:

  • Proper meta tag values to reflect purpose/content of page
  • Semantic markup
  • Good, “readable” URLs
  • Make content available on-page as opposed to post-loaded stuff, text is better, etc.

But those are kind of a given, at least if you’re a good web professional; if so, you should care about all these (and more). However, somehow it feels like SEO is some kind of esoteric undertaking, with bat wings and widows’ tears to boot. Come to think of it, I realize that do have a bit of a prejudice with “SEO professionals”, as I feel that they’re charging people/entities exorbitant amounts of money for stuff that a good, ordinary web professional should be able to do. I’m quite certain though, that there has to be more than just these things–hence the aforementioned “exorbitant amounts of money”–but what? Or is that some jealously-guarded industry secret?

(I’m talking about legit ways to improve search engine rankings. Or do these “SEO professionals” charge aforementioned amounts of money because they can game search engine rankings? Oy vey.)

Plus I came across a bit of a poser, regarding SEO and blogs. Obviously on a page you highlight important content headers with an H1 tag. But for blog index pages–what would that be? I’ve seen blogs/news sites/etc that mark the first article (headline) with an H1, and the blog/site title with a lower heading tag. But naturally I’ve also seen stuff the other way around. It all just means different views of which needs to be highest in priority, but I’m just curious about what most people practice: is it blog title in H1 and entry titles in H2 (or lower), or the other way around?

This all feels like black magic. :-s

Edited to add: I would love to have been proven wrong, but just a couple of hours after posting this entry, I ended up with “spam comments” on this entry from SEO “sites” and “blogs”. It’s spam because when your comment so does not have any connection to what I talked about in my post (other than “agreeing” that “SEO is important” and some such…which I never actually said in my entry!) that is spam.

Ugh. “SEO professionals” my ass.