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Don't do SEO.

Do accessibility.

Seriously, don't worry a single bit about SEO. Yet, if you make it so that your site's content, navigation and URLs are screen-reader friendly, then you've probably made a site that has solid SEO and is accessible to people with vision problems.

Yet, just doing SEO doesn't make for a very accessible site all the time.

Once this is done, make good content, be real and responsive humans to your customers and you're on your way to a good business model and website.

I read this, and all I can see is:

"Don't do marketing." "Just make a good product and people will find it."

I think this is the downfall of many great products. The current startup world has an idealistic belief that better products always win and if you build something people want, they'll find it, when in fact, this has never been true. The "best" politicians consistently lose to those better at marketing and branding. The "best" ideas in organizations often fall to those trumpeted with more style or by those with more clout. Many great startups shut down because they couldn't find a repeatable, low-cost way to acquire customers (and SEO is exactly this).

More here: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/i-disagree-with-fred-marketing-is...

And here: http://hackersandfounders.tv/RDmt/rand-fishkin-inbound-marke...

I believe parent was trying to express the sentiment that search engines inherently favor sites that are well-structured and present the relevant keywords in a format that is easily parsed by web crawlers.

Totally agree with you Rand. My sentiment was down-voted for being too hostile, so I'm glad you're weighing in on this.

Climbing search engine rankings has less to do with on-site SEO perfection yet much more to do with backlinks. Look at what porn and gambling kings are doing to compete with eachother.

Too many posts about SEO get everyone obsessing over marginal website tweaks/details when a single backlink to their webite doesn't even exist outside of their HN account.

I don't mean to say that you shouldn't be doing PR, Marketing and Social Media efforts; because you should. Yet, I don't think of press releases, making awesome products and participating on social networks to be SEO. But if you do them right, you'll get link backs as well.

I absolutely agree... that this is how it should be.

The only problem is that it isn't currently this way (despite what Google and Matt Cutt's might say). It is naive to think that this approach is going work.

Furthermore, you're competitors are going to do accessibility + SEO, and they are going to trounce you. randfish said this better than I could, so I'll leave it at that.

You can get away with what you are suggesting if you have staggeringly awesome content, but even then - why risk it. If you integrate SEO into your culture from the start, and have the right process then it doesn't have to be that hard.

This is a simplification. Yes, I agree that making your site accessible improves SEO, but there are lots of things that fall under SEO, and not accessibility that you should do. E.g. "What am I ranking for?" will tell you what the wider internet thinks your site is good at. "What search terms are bringing people to my site?" will tell you what your visitors really want. "How many people are searching for X and Y?" will tell you how popular X and Y are.

Another SEO non-accessibility advantage, you get to learn what your customers call your product/service.

e.g. I like going on motorbike holidays, like "Long Way Round" (but not as extreme) that's called "motorbike touring". Not motorbike holidays, or trips, or travelling, but touring. One step of SEO is to see what people are searching for, which will tell you what your customers call your service.

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