Simple SEO: Does It Exist?

We talk a lot about making sites good for users, making them accessible, easily crawlable, and well-designed. We advise everyone to write good content and carefully analyze their metrics. We talk about knowing your users and catering to them, and, above all else, we speak of SEO as being a combination of art and science.

So where is the bit about simplicity in all of this? Is there room for sparseness in today’s SEO campaign?

The other day when I was going to the grocery store, there were a few volunteers outside collecting for a charity. Their slogan was so utterly simple that it made me really think about the over-the-top manner in which many of us attack our marketing. It was “Help Retarded Children.” No embellishment, no flair, no politically correct “mentally” added to the “retarded” part of it. It did the trick. I didn’t see a soul pass by without giving.

Now obviously this is the kind of thing that any sane person would not have a problem with…I mean seriously, if you don’t have a soft spot for children with mental, physical, or developmental issues, you’re inhuman as far as I’m concerned and give me your name so I can beat your ass when I meet you. So, while I’d naturally give anything I can to this sort of organization, and I don’t take their work lightly at all, I am, for the purpose of this blog, using their simple message to illustrate a point.

Obviously I am not taking my own advice and being simplistic and to the point, but I am not really known for practicing what I preach. I’m in awe of this actually, this simplicity. I tend to be a bit bombastic (especially after all that time spent studying Romantic poetry in college) and, on the odd occasion, have a slight tendency to exaggerate and embellish everything until, verbally, it becomes the picture that I see in my head. This is good, sometimes, but it can completely draw attention away from the point being made. I think (and hope) that it’s fine to be over the top in a blog, and I really can’t be anything else, but some messages need to be simple. It makes me wonder why on earth I didn’t ask someone else to write this though…

Simplicity comes back to making something about the user. It’s not just about a simple message either…simplicity needs to take the form of many things, from the number of clicks it takes to get somewhere on a site to your overall design. When you optimize it’s easy to lose sight of this as you add more keywords and jazz up your slogan. If something’s working, it’s human nature to try and make it even better. However, it might be wise to do less and see what THAT gets you. In the spirit of doing less, I’m going to end now rather than go on and on about some ridiculous bit of music trivia.

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