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I've seen a few questions that are in or around the SEO area, and each time they are asked, they seem to get shut down with the not programming related reason. I just don't get it. Surely part of a web developer's job is to write markup that is attractive to bots as well as users. It seems to me that it's is just as relevant as usability and performance. What am I missing?

E.g.

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1202589/

and

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/449065/

(closed and now re-opened)

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Can you link to examples? –  Timothy Carter Jul 29 '09 at 20:03
    
What is SEO ? Inquiring minds, etc. –  Peter Mortensen Jul 29 '09 at 21:25
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SEO is a con to extract money from people that don't know what they're doing. (At best, it's fixing bad HTML and improving bad English(etc), at worst it's attempting to subvert search engines.) –  Peter Boughton Jul 29 '09 at 22:35
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@Peter SEO - Search Engine Optimization –  MadMurf Jul 29 '09 at 23:12
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@Peter - I would downvote that if I could, I have utterly no clue why you have gotten 9 votes. SEO is not a con unless used as such (blackhatSEO). SEO simply helps search engines help others. I find your comment offensive as someone with SEO on my resume. SEO is a tool. Like all tools, it can be used for good or bad. –  user135632 Oct 24 '09 at 21:42
    
possible duplicate of Why are non-programming related questions being voted down? –  Brad Mace Aug 10 '12 at 20:20

3 Answers 3

Well, first off... Your premise is incorrect: out of the 291 questions currently tagged [seo] on Stack Overflow, only 22 are closed. That's under 8%, somewhat high but not unusual for a topic only tangentially related to programming.

Yes, you heard me: SEO is only tangentially related to programming. At best, it involves writing code and content that makes your pages appealing to search engines. At worst, it involves dodgy linking and PR games intended to subvert the intended ranking algorithms of various search engines, wild speculation as to the nature of such algorithms (for purposes of gaming...), and random voodoo that may or may not actually have any effect, positive or negative.

There's no reason why you can't ask a programming question related to SEO, but there's certainly plenty of opportunity for asking SEO questions that aren't at all programming-related.

Now, as for the two examples you listed:

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Good point about these specific questions - neither of these deserve to be open and I'm pro-SEO camp –  bananakata Jul 30 '09 at 6:01

SEO is firmly not programming related. It's about writing good text, and planning keywords. What does that have to do with programming?

In fact, now that there's more than one site, you could nearly argue that the whole of web design (design (HTML/CSS) != development (Javascript/back-end)) is the "ugly duckling" that doesn't fit in any site. HTML/CSS has more akin with Desktop Publishing than programming.

However DTP, and Web Design both seem a bit professional to go into the Super User site. Maybe that's a good idea for a 5th site?

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naive - seo is a concern for any public facing site which generally speaking I think you'll find are built by programmers. It's tangential sure, but it's 100% programming related. –  bananakata Jul 29 '09 at 20:38
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HTML/CSS is programming. Well, more markup-ing, but you still write code (if you call HTML code) –  deleted Jul 29 '09 at 20:46
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@Isaac No, it is not programming. It's just often done in conjuction with programming (back-end and/or javascript) but it is not programming. Programming is merely the category of Stack site that it's least out of place in. –  Macha Jul 29 '09 at 20:49
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@macha - That's your opinion, and in mine you're wrong. HTML+CSS are so intertwined with other web technologies it would be a very bad idea to push them out to a 5th site. Reduces cross-pollination both ways and requires web-devs to be in two places where one would do, if only it could be tolerated by those of opinions like yourself. –  bananakata Jul 29 '09 at 21:04
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Since programmers often do it, it's of direct, work-related interest to programmers. –  Nosredna Jul 29 '09 at 21:08
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Since programmers do it, those subjective questions are of direct interest to programmers. Since programmers do it, installing Windows is of direct interest to programmers. Since programmers do it, installing Apache is of direct interest to programmers. My personal opinion favours one (maybe two if you include MSO) site. But since that's not the case, I don't see why it should be inconsistent and allow non programming related questions such as SEO, but not others such as setting up Apache. –  Macha Jul 29 '09 at 21:12
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"Since programmers do it" - i'm so tired of this argument. Programmers eat, programmers drive cars, programmers play video games... Does that make non-programming-related food, car, or game questions legit? No. So don't use this justification for SEO either. –  Shogging through the snow Jul 29 '09 at 22:37
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@Shog9 re:"Since programmers do it". I think you are being too literal here. Programmers don't eat/drive/etc as part of their job, but they sometimes do have to think about SEO as part of their job. I know SEO can be evil and the realm of scammers and everyone gets anger-shakes over it, but it is still something you are forced to be aware of if you're building a site that you want people to find organically via search. SO is a prime example of a site with great SEO (good fresh content, clean markup, quality inbound links) without being evil/scammy. You think that happened by accident? –  David HAust Jul 30 '09 at 2:46
    
You think there aren't programmers who eat/drive/game as part of their job? You're being narrow-minded. I'm well aware that programming jobs can require knowledge of SEO. Almost every programming job requires some specialized knowledge of the domain. See my answer here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/10800/… and my comment here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/9658/… –  Shogging through the snow Jul 30 '09 at 14:32

Very simply because SEO is a soft subject - it can't be framed in terms of algorithms and languages and lines of code. It's no more or less PR than project management or source control questions both of which also have a hard time.

It's likely that SEO questions have more favour amongst web-devs who've had to engage in the subject than traditional apps developers, but in the long run I think enough people will see that it is part of the spectrum and keep these open.

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AI and fuzzy logic are soft subjects too, but that doesn't mean they are not programming related. –  Robert Harvey Jul 29 '09 at 22:26
    
How is AI a soft subject? –  Ian Elliott Jul 29 '09 at 22:58
    
@Ian: don't you remember? There's this... talking teddy bear. Looked pretty soft to me. imdb.com/title/tt0212720 Not sure what this has to do with SEO and programming questions though. –  Shogging through the snow Jul 30 '09 at 0:27

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