I have a couple of web sites, and sometimes I read about search engine optimization when I’m wondering how to get more traffic. It’s amazing to me how much information there is out there and how many opposing opinions there are.

But the following occurs to me: the search engines’ goal is to provide relevant content to search queries, and they have to deal with all sorts of searchers and all sorts of content providers. My goal should be to write content that someone else might care about and leave it to Google, Bing and the rest to put us together rather than try to tweak my page to inch up the SERP / results page.

Oh, I’ll keep a few SEO tips in mind when making content, like using the title as the url and–without keyword stuffing–try to include synonyms while writing. It’s almost second-nature now; without really thinking about it I managed to put “SERP” and “results page” in, and also “SEO”, “search engine optimization”, “Google” and “Bing” in this short bit of content. After that last sentence I am probably stepping over the border into the land of keyword stuffing, but before that it is natural to want to vary the wording anyway, especially if you’re not sure all readers know what SERP is.

But frankly, writing more useful articles is more productive than trying to fine-tune SEO.

What is a useful article? My most popular ones here are the ones where I did something and simply said what I did, why and what I learned along the way. They aren’t articles I put a lot of effort, directed research and thought into. They are basically notes to my future self on how and why I did something, and those are surprisingly useful to other people, too. For example, I have quite a few posts on IPv6 where I tried to comprehensively cover the topic. I don’t think anyone has ever noticed. Then one day after looking up command syntax on neighbor discovery for the nth time I wrote a quick post about how to do the equivalent of arp in IPv6. That’s the only IPv6 post here that gets any search engine love, and at times it’s been my most popular article. (I later went back and added a video to the page; it doesn’t seem to have driven any traffic to speak of. Just the text itself–much of which is sample commands an output–is what brought in traffic.)

So don’t spend too much time playing the SEO game. Write something useful and let Google and Bing figure out who can find your contribution useful.