SEO is less about keywords and more about publishing good content that people care to read and share.
Have you ever received an SEO audit on your company website saying there are thousands of issues that need to be fixed to increase its SEO score? Their claims are probably legitimate and fixing reported issues could improve the SEO score, but have they ever told you by how much? Do you really have a clear understanding of your return on a probably significant investment?
It’s not a checklist
Optimizing your website’s SEO is NOT about checking thousands of items off a to-do list. Why? In the land of search engine optimization, not all things are created equal… You can literally spend hundreds of hours fixing the “issues” of your website, but in almost every circumstance you will not receive a proportional return in your score. Getting your articles shared across social media and linked by influential websites contributes significantly larger portion of the overall SEO score. This is something Google officially states in “Steps to a Google-friendly site“.
It’s more like job hunting
Now let’s take a moment and compare SEO to job hunting. Your resume is very similar to your website in that it’s stuffed with lots of content and keywords. The primary reader of your resume is your potential employer, but they are not the only one and not even the first one to read it. When you apply for any job these days, your resume content gets processed by software in the format that recruiters can run searches on based on keywords. They type keywords into their resume database looking for specific job skills and experience.
It’s a smart choice to include keywords in your resume that your recruiters would be looking for. If you come up as a good match on their search result, they will take their time to look at your resume. Does this start to sound familiar to you?
You’ve probably heard hundreds of resume optimization tips telling you to do XYZ and fix hundreds of small issues. Taking all these helpful tips will improve quality of your resume for sure. But in the end, you can still lose to the competition based on “lack of experience” or simply because another candidate was better connected to the hiring manager in person.
You get the idea. There is a clear limitation on how much you can do with optimizing your resume by stuffing them with keywords. Having better qualifications and higher social influence has much larger impact on landing a new job. The same principles apply to SEO. Having content on your website that “people” actually value and gets shared across social networks have higher impact on SEO. Google is smart enough to figure out what’s more relevant to people and will not be fooled by SEO tactics.
Think People, Think ROI
Search engine optimization in practical terms is really about utilizing your limited resources to make the most out of it. Of course, you want to first make sure your website is built in such a way that it’s friendly for robots to process content. But beyond that first step, you want to focus on publishing content that is valued by human readers first so that robots will pick it up afterwards. Stop spending hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on pleasing robots and put more resources into creating value for people. After all, your content will stay valuable by carrying over when you redesign your website, but a lot of “fixing” efforts on your existing site will not likely make it.
If you don’t know where to start, here are some blog post ideas.
- When you talk about what you do, take note of what others find interesting. Something you don’t think is interesting is often fresh and insightful for others. You just need to be informative for the general public – you don’t have to impress other industry experts.
- Turn your print materials into digital articles online. Well-written articles never get old because they are filled with wit and principles that do not change over time.
- Imagine you have to train a new employee. How much knowledge you are transferring verbally. Write them down for your internal use and also for blog readers to read and share.
- Do you have a strong opinion on what’s going on in your industry? Don’t just express your opinion verbally with your co-workers, but write it down constructively and publish it.