SEO is half art half science. If Google would tell us their algorithm, it would just be science but they don’t. So we’ll continue with the art.
It seems to me that when people get into SEO, they realize how much data is readily available out there that can help you tune your site and some people tend to get a little carried away. Many try to game the system but tricking Google into thinking they deserve a higher rank than they do. We call that black-hat. There’s also a lot of fuzzy gray area that I like to call gray-hat.
For everyone on either side of the white-hat/black-hat debate it’s really easy to get sucked into the science and over analyze things. There’s one thing that I always tell clients that they need to keep in mind.
“What is Google’s goal? To provide the best results for a visitor when they search on any given keyword.” Their algorithm is far from perfect and constantly changing because they are trying to reach that pinnacle of search intelligence. They are trying to find the results that are going to be the best match for a REAL person. That means, the site that has been able to design things perfectly for REAL visitors will win. Theoretically of course. When considering your search engine optimization goals, remember this simple philosophy, “Keep it Real”
When you design your site for real visitors, keeping in mind how a computer with limited intelligence is going to interpret your site, you have a much greater chance of attracting the visitors that you really want.