Don’t believe me? Ever hear of the term Google Bomb? This is where enough people point to a specific website using the same anchor text (the highlighted text that’s underlined in a link) to override what Google thinks the website is about.
The classic example is Miserable Failure which George Bush experienced a while back. Unfortunately Google has corrected this and it no longer works, so I can’t show it to you live.
But it doesn’t mean it’s not possible elsewhere. Actually it’s very possible and it happens all the time.
For example, you can have a perfectly optimized website “mesothelioma” (a renown keyword for it’s high CPC – Cost Per Click – value), but if everyone linking to your website says you’re about something else, that something else will overrule your SEO efforts. Google has realized that although you may think you about a specific topic (or maybe you’re just trying to game the system), if everyone says else wise they’re probably more accurate than you. And Google will therefore adjust what it thinks your website is about according to what everyone else says it’s about.
Which is good and bad. It means that your website can be about multiple keywords just by having links to it with different keywords. It also means that although you might optimize your website for one particular keyword, the search engines will recognize it for several other keywords which is great (assuming of course that they link to you with the other keywords).
It also means that you can get a double whammy by optimizing your website for the keyword(s) that most people link to your website for because you’ll be matching what the world thinks you’re about. That’s a good thing.
The key thing to remember is that the way people link to you is more important that your on-site SEO efforts, especially as your website gains momentum. Yes your SEO efforts are still very valuable, you will need this to be at the top of the search results. What I’m saying though is that it’s not that critical to have your website 100% SEO optimized (if that’s even possible). If you can get 70%-80% of the way there, that’s probably good enough. You’ll get to a point where you’ll be getting diminishing returns on your on-site SEO efforts, where you’d be better off spending your time getting high quality links to your website.
PS: If you’re interested in learning more about On and Off-site SEO, check out my ebook How to Generate Traffic to Your Website, in which I discuss this and many more SEO topics.