search engine genius

In my current position I work with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) a great deal. The more I learn, the less I understand and frankly, sometimes, the less I care to understand. Often we’re working at gaming the system — creating SEO pages that honestly don’t have any new information on them. I prefer dynamic, content-driven websites and it’s my wish that search engines favor these over what are, essentially, glorified yellow pages ads.

Anyway, sometimes search engine results blow me away and really restore my faith in their engineers’ ability to deliver the best results. For example, a friend mentioned Marks & Spencer which reminded me of the store’s English nickname “Marks & Sparks.” I googled “marks and sparks” thinking I’d get a blog post or wikipedia entry about the nickname. But the number one search result was:

I took a quick peek at the code and didn’t find meta tags or, in fact, any text with the phrase “Marks and Sparks.” Neither is that phrase in the <title> tag — the text which is displayed in the top of your browser window. (One of the ways I’ve been told to improve search results is to make that <title> tag into descriptive text — something I’ll have to address later.)

Maybe it was human intervention, maybe it’s terrific inbound linking that landed them in the number one slot, but it appears that Marks & Sparks isn’t gaming the system to get there. Thank God.