Is there in fact a science to SEO?

I just got email from O’Reilly, including a book on SEO.

I frequently find myself criticizing SEO practices, because they are so often snake oil.

While I acknowledge that there is a science to writing headlines so that people will read them, it seems that more and more we’re writing “copy” so that algorithms will rank it highly, rather than so that it is beneficial to humans. This is, of course, the rationale behind wiki spam, comment spam, and on and on, which isn’t written for people to read, but for algorithms to read.

Then, the algorithms get optimized to compensate for what people are writing, and the spiral goes on until we’re all communicating in grunts.

But when O’Reilly publishes a book about something, I tend to assume that there is in fact some merit to it. Perhaps I should read this, so that I’m not merely knee-jerking against the charlatans that are riding on the legitimate science. Assuming that there is a science.

On a related note, I’m making a conscious effort this month to write blog posts rather than condensing all of my thoughts into 140 characters. At work, I send 24 tweets a day, every day. I have to condense really cool ideas into 140 characters that do a crappy job of conveying the awesome. As a result, I start to to think in 140 character segments, which, in turn, is making me inarticulate. Must stop that.

Also, I expect that this blog post will draw a lot of spam. *sigh*