Not too long ago, when it came to online marketing and content writing, the conversation seemed to begin and end with three magic letters: SEO.
Times have changes, though, as they always do. Today, the current thinking among web writers and online marketers has shifted dramatically when it comes to SEO.
Those brave new ideas amount to this: SEO as we know it has changed so much in recent years, that its traditional use may no longer be an effective solution to getting the kind of quality web traffic upon which real online success depends.
The Rise of SEO …
Let’s back up a bit, and take a quick look at the basic info. An acronym for search engine optimization, SEO refers to the practice of engineering your website so that it ranks at the top of Internet searches. Say you search for “Nathan Denny” on Google. On the first page of results, you’re going to find one of my websites … this one, or my photography website, or another that I’m working on launching within the next few weeks.
That’s because these sites are all based on the domain name NathanDenny.com—the best possible domain if you want to rank for “Nathan Denny” as a targeted keyword phrase. (Your keyword phrase is the word—or words—that you’re targeting with your SEO efforts; in other words, since I want people to find this site when they search for “Nathan Denny,” my targeted keyword phrase is “Nathan Denny”).
As you know if you’ve worked with me (or taken the time to browse this website), I’m an experienced writer of SEO web content. I know the traditional methods on how to write content that’ll help a site’s overall SEO strategy—the right keyword density to use, how to incorporate keywords in headlines, marketing content via social media, and so on.
But, to the frustration of many site managers and business owners, as I’ve recently touched on in a recent article for Vistage.com’s Executive Street Blog, those SEO basics just aren’t doing the trick anymore.
… The Fall of SEO
The reason for SEO’s increasing ineffectiveness is fairly simple: Google runs the SEO game … and Google doesn’t like SEO.
Okay, that’s exaggerating. Google knows you want your site to rank well, and it of course has no problem with you working on making sure that it does. The issue is with the methods of traditional SEO, or when writers and marketers engineer sites to appear high in rankings when they really don’t belong there.
Think of it this way: Google ostensibly exists to help people find what they’re looking for online. People searching for professional online content writers want to find a site like mine, the home of an experienced and qualified writer. They don’t want to find some spam site that exists only to direct traffic to some link marketer. And a lot of SEO is just that: marketers “optimizing” sites to rank for certain keywords and then monetizing that traffic, to the detriment of the people actually searching for that term.
It’s easy to see why Google might not care for that. Ultimately, those practices aren’t going to help Google’s reputation in the long run, either. Google wants its users to find what they’re looking for, not get redirected to worthless sites. If too much of that happens, those searchers just might start using Bing instead. (Don’t laugh.)
Look, I’ve written a lot of articles about SEO since 2006. And what I came to realize as I immersed myself in that world is this: SEO alone isn’t really a legit way for an online company to make money. Your content should win traffic not because it has two percent keyword density, but because because it’s good, because people want to read it, because it directly relates to your keyword(s), and because it provides real value to those who find it via a search.
That’s why Google’s recent updates to its algorithms (which it makes several time a year) have, in recent times, emphasized quality of content over old-school SEO methods like excessive linking and keyword use. Google will rank your site better if the content is sound, and if it’s unique (a very important factor), as opposed to if it’s stuffed with keywords or is linked to a million spam sites.
Hey, I can write an article with a one-to-three percent keyword density and make it sound natural. Any talented writer should be able to do that. But that’s not the right path to be on. If you’re a business looking to generate more sales and pageviews online, here’s what you need: Quality content. Simple as that.
Hire a blogger who can write interesting content, and people will want to read your site everyday. If you succeed in doing that, you’ll get traffic. You’ll get backlinks. You’ll get Facebook likes, retweets, and ultimately, you’ll get more visitors, and they’ll click your ads. You’ll generate revenue. (Well, that last part depends on whether your ads are properly targeted to the types of content you’re marketing. But we’ll reserve that topic for an upcoming post.)
As one of the comments put it on that SEO article I wrote for Vistage.com, “Forget SEO. If you want to get a high ranking just build a site people actually want to visit.” Couldn’t agree more.