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Search engine optimization

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SEO, or "search engine optimization", is the clumsy art of struggling to get one's page to come up first when searched for on a search engine.

The sociopathic version (and generally understood meaning of the phrase) is to make a zillion web pages and link them all to each other (link farming), spam websites that allow comments or user-made content (such as blogs, wikis etc.) with links to one's webpages, and stuff one's pages with keywords that may or may not be relevant (spamdexing).

The non-sociopathic version is basically how to write one's pages and design your site in a sensible and reasonable manner. But webmasters are more likely to hire SEO specialists if they don't phrase it as "I teach you to do your damn job properly." (Or, more generously, "I tell your boss to let you do your job properly.")

SEO and Wikipedia[edit]

SEO specialists frequently have a serious hate-on for Wikipedia, because it's a top five website, and the first result on most Google searches, even though Wikipedia goes to no effort to generate high rankings.[1] They just have this website and put stuff on it, that's about what it says it is, and that people want to read! Wikipedia also instructs search engines not to take into account links from it when ranking other websites, in order to reduce the effectiveness of spam.[2]

SEO scams[edit]

When you get spam e-mail promising to get your cutesy web site front page treatment, assuming you are at all interested, ask the following question: "For what search string?" SEO scam artists, you see, may actually be able to deliver on their promise as long as the search string tested is PINK MARJORAM SCONES ROCK FOOLS. However, try insisting that the search string HARDER ERECTIONS gets your site on the first page — not so easy.

See also[edit]

Icon fun.svg For those of you in the mood, RationalWiki has a fun article about Argumentum ad Google ranking.


  1. Although in 2005, Wikipedia would frequently rank thirtieth after its own mirror sites on searches for text unique to it, to the point where some Wikipedians asked Google "Dudes, why are we behind our own mirrors?" It was soon after this that Google started applying serious duplicate content penalties and Wikipedia started topping every search.