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Does Search Engine Optimization Make a Difference?

Earlier today I had a debate via instant messaging with another blogger who told me that Search Engine Optimization doesn’t make any difference any more. They argued that you just need to provide good content and search engine rankings look after themselves.

While I see where the blogger comes from and I agree to a point that search rankings look after themselves when you build a useful blog – I’m also convinced that knowing some basic SEO and implementing it on a site can have a significant impact.

Want proof?

Check out this chart:

search-engine-optimization-makes-a-difference.png

What you’re looking at above is the search engine referred traffic over the last two months on my digital photography forum. The blue line is the last month and the green line is the month before that.

You can see quite clearly that around 25th June something happened to change the amount of search engine traffic arriving on the forum.

What happened? I simply installed a plugin called VBSEO. It’s a plugin for VBulletin (the platform I use to run the forum) that simply makes the forum more search engine friendly. It does quite a few things including changing the url structure of the forum to include keywords rather than numbers.

Here’s when the plugin was installed:

search-engine-optimization-makes-a-difference-1.png

Within a day or two we noticed search engine traffic increasing. In the period you see above search traffic is 35.98% higher than in the last month than the proceeding one (that includes the first half of the month when the difference wasn’t massive). In fact over the last week search traffic has been up by 69.66%!

Now it is worth saying that Vbulletin is not well set up for SEO in its default form (in fact it’s pretty bad) and that most blogging platforms are better optimized in their default form – however I think it’s pretty clear from the above graph that SEO does have an impact.

Further Reading: check out our Search Engine Optimization Tips for Bloggers for more specific details on how to optimize a blog for search engines.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Content is manufacturing, SEO is distribution network. One can not live without another.

  2. I think SEO is only a part of the big picture of getting traffic to your site! Are many ways to drive traffic to your site which includes SEO!

    Nice post Darren and keep up the good coming our way!

    All the best,
    Laurentiu Sanda

  3. Personally I think SEO basics are essential, but if you begin to dabble into the darker arts of SEO practice then more than likely you will end up knocked off the SERPs. What I have found very strange is what once helped in the SERPs is now reason for banning IE keyword stuffing, link exchange, and others. Anyway good post and proof that SEO can help increase traffic.

    Kris,

  4. Very good evidence that SEO helps. Personally I just hired a SEO consultant and have had very good results in their link buliding ability and overall knowledge of SEO. It is strange how your traffic jumps at the same time each month. Anyway great post.

    Marcus,

  5. Raju says:

    Its so many things to do and learn with wordpress, wish I had the money to buy a domain and a host,

    But for now I will stick with blogspot and later I will find a way to shift my blog to wordpress

  6. Payday Loans says:

    If you are reading this blog post than I beg you all to just listen to the man. He knows what he is talking about so take all of it serious. I am an seo expert myself but he really does make sense.

  7. Im a new blogger. But what i can simply is that both seo and content is essential to all-reader,search engine,blog owner

    Good seo-good for search engine. Whats the harm of workin on that anyway?

    Good content makes your reader come back for more.

    There shouldnt be an argument i think. Just go with both.

  8. @Raju: Not really. Using WordPress without creating good content is useless. The key is still in the quality content, like Darren said above. Basic SEO for WordPress is more than enough, and you can do it only with a plugin. Btw You can also try get free domain to install WordPress. If you have got the grip, fly to your custom / own domain at once :D

  9. I’ve been using and studying SEO for probably 11 years now… since the days when the search engines were still fooled by invisible text and spammy keywords… I never did fall into those traps and have been fairly successful at getting my sites to come up on page one of Google, and good content has ALWAYS been king. The rest of the techniques just put the icing on the cake. Blogs, because of their constant current posts are just MORE SEO friendly than your average website.

    I do use the All in One SEO plugin on a few of my blogs and the Platinum SEO on a few others… the jury is still out on which one I like best. Some of the newer templates out there come already equipped with SEO so be careful not to add a plugin if your theme already has it as part of the package.

  10. That’s ridiculous. Of course search engine optimization makes a difference. If it didn’t Google wouldn’t implement penalties for websites.

  11. Spyros says:

    Of course it makes a difference ! However, it also depends on what your niche is about and the competition there is around it. The less competition you have, the more likely you are to get great search engine results provided that you take the appropriate SEO related measures. I definately agree with what you say there Darren.

  12. echoblogger says:

    it is the content that really matters irrespective of the other things.Any have plugins just give a boosted traffic growth

  13. Jammy says:

    I think now no one would argue with Darren Rowse..
    If he says something,
    then it ought to be true.

    You don’t believe it..??
    He has the numbers to do it..!!

  14. Awesome post keep it up Darren.With your posts I am able to develop my site and overcome my mistakes

    http://www.tips4blogging.co.cc

  15. The topic of the post is interesting, but there’s not enough information about those fantastic features referred to!

    Even the vBSEO site doesn’t provide enough information about all those 100 features. More is needed to be persuaded to take it seriously. Of course, SEO is undoubtedly a key role player in providing targeted traffic to your blog, but as a user of “All in One SEO Pack” plugin (for WordPress), I would like to know what advantages vBSEO has got which pushes it above the other plugins.

  16. teratips says:

    SEO is effective better for later
    Blogging Tips, SEO, Money Making Tips by http://teratips.com

  17. fas says:

    Well optimisation is the key. Writing content is one thing and being able to find it is anohter.

  18. Content will always matter more then SEO.

  19. Very interesting graph. I love when people post actual traffic stats for their sites. SEO isn’t magic, it’s just about making it easier for search engines to read your site so they can decide how to rank it.

  20. I believe SEO does matter,

  21. Excellent information – thank you. I will definitely recommend your site to my clients. Most people don’t know how important the things that you highlighted are.

    Thanks for helping spread the good word!

    http://BeyondDomaining.com

  22. ITrush says:

    Unique content plus good SEO I think is equal to success, but you need to do it regularly not just for one day.

  23. Just because you rank well it does not mean you will convert visitors to $$$. People get so hooked on SEO they forget their objectives.

  24. Indrek says:

    In my opinion if you know all the important tips about SEO and implement them on your sites you’ll definitely benefit from it. I know that content is the most important thing, but if you’ll spend some time on improving your sites for search engines and making their indexing more easier it would increase your traffic extremely.

    I agree with ITrush – you can’t think about SEO just once. You have to do it regularly.

  25. mike says:

    Probably the great content blogs will get the most links in the long run and will payoff more.

  26. it improves a lot in my WP plugin SEO optimization. After installing the plugin. The SEO scores went up a lot.

  27. It is absorbing reviewing the acknowledged key words in assorted posts comparing Google vs. Bing vs. Yahoo etc.

    My newer blogs (one beneath than 2 months old) is accepting a college allotment of Bing hits compared to my added sites which indicates to me that SEO is added able with BING at atomic in the inititial stages of a blog’s life…

  28. Dean Saliba says:

    When I set up message boards the first mod I install is a SEO one.

    I don’t know anything about SEO to be honest but I still set up the plugins and the mods that I think will help me gain better rankings in the search engines.

  29. Jacob Stoops says:

    Sure, if you’re a solid content writer who by default uses the keywords that you want to show up for…then, i can see how you’d think SEO doesn’t matter.

    Sometimes, SEO may only show slow steady increases in traffic/ranking, but is often more noticeable when there is a lack of SEO implemented on a site.

  30. Dan says:

    Optimization is tough for me and seems to be always ongoing. I really enjoy reading your posts. It’s very helpful information. I am still in the process of trying to get serious real traffic. I get about 200 a day right now. Need 10,000 or more.The links that I’m building pointing to the site will hopefully help.

  31. turisuna says:

    I still confuse how to do SEO for blogspot, well … not all blogger use wordpress so we can’t put SEO plugin at our blog, Could you give some clues how to do SEO for blogspot?

  32. Optimization is an ongoing process that seems to be ever changing but the basics are a must if you wish to compete.

  33. What I wish I knew was whether or not I should be using nofollow links. I just read an article earlier today that came out in opposition to them for a number of reasons…(searching for link)…13 Reasons Why NoFollow Tags Suck. Now I don’t know what to do. Anyone?

  34. Search engines are the most important source traffics for a blogs because they provide quality traffic.

  35. I’m of the opinion that blogs are already well optimized. So concentrating on the content would do the rest.

  36. Karan says:

    SEO is the best way to increase the ranking of the website, even i did for my website and the website is having good ranking and traffic as well.

    Check this – http://www.wisdomleaf.com

    Thanks,
    K

  37. KB says:

    As a fairly new blogger I’ve found it helpful to learn some seo basics… clarifying my keywords before I write a post has helped me tremendously.

    You still need great content to encourage readers to return to your site, though :)

  38. Johanna says:

    Great post. I have been doing research about SEO and looking for info anywhere I can find it. I agree with your point of view. Do you have any tips for SEO? I am working on it for our software company and I am really confused.

  39. Dear Johanna,
    I’ve had a quick look at your site. I think “press room” is a great idea that you’ve created at your site. You can write the first few sentences of your PR there and post a link to the PR website that publishes your release. I mean you’d better publish your PRs at PR sites. Then, you can bring visitors to your site and increase your link popularity.
    This will make a significant difference at your SEO efforts.
    … it’s been just one point. Of course, a lot more can be done.

  40. SEO will make a huge difference in your placement on the internet!

  41. avstereo says:

    Well, I’m still trying to understand how SEO works. From what I learned so far, SEO helps a lot in getting traffic. As long we still rely on search engine, we must use SEO extensively.

  42. lezbiyen says:

    As a fairly new blogger I’ve found it helpful to learn some seo basics… clarifying my keywords before I write a post has helped me tremendously.

    You still need great content to encourage readers to return to your site, though :)

  43. SEO helps add potential customers and the number of quality leads to your website as well. In fact, most organizations can adopt Internet marketing and advertising strategies to generate better business.

  44. linkb97 says:

    thank you… i got lot of information from your site…. thanks for sharing

  45. Online Seo says:

    SEO has bring already a many difference in marketing as its a new department in marketing and very beneficial you can get traffic from google or other search engine just by doing your site SEO

  46. jeux wii says:

    Nice article very informative, I still believe that SEO can make a difference, It’s true good content can make it happen but with the help of SEO it can help to achieve what’s your goal is..