Does the thought of trying to better your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) leave you wishing you never started your digital marketing in the first place?
If you answered “yes” to that question, it’s completely understandable to feel that way.
For so many years, SEO seemed either:
- Impossibly technical
- Really gross and spammy, or
No wondered no one wanted to touch it. Eww.
In the Beginning was SEO and SEO Was NOT Good
Early SEO brought out the worst in business-to-customer communication.
Because customer-focused communication was tossed to the wayside to instead focus on the “Great and Powerful Google.”
This poor-practice left businesses with complicated messaging and consumers who were confused and frustrated.
You could even say that the early SEO approach was a brute-force kind of deal focusing on awful tactics for good business. These tactics included things such as:
- Jamming a bunch of keywords into website copy (no matter how nasty it looked or confusing it seemed)
- Trying to play lame tricks on the search engines like cramming your keywords into hidden tags or using white text on a white background
- Pouring a ton of money into paid links and irrelevant directories
None of those were great for building a customer-centered relationship.
Plus, that kind of SEO just flat out doesn’t work anymore. What happened was Google wised up to the fact that this conniving approach was not the way good SEO should work and, eventually, the pages that went with those tactics got struck hard (and not in a good way).
The web pages that succeeded in that dog-eat-dog SEO world were the ones focused on having a quality-first approach, or in other words, having content that was written with humans in mind and not search engines.
These businesses showed wisdom beyond their years with content that was not only a lot more enjoyable for their audiences to consume but was more enjoyable for them to create as well.
Is Google the Evil Villain?
It’s a reasonable question to ask, especially when at times Google feels more like “the all-seeing eye” than a useful tool for your business.
Google might argue that they’re not the bad guys and even suggest that their corporate motto of “Don’t be evil” proves it.
Some of Google’s decisions have been bad news for pure content creators (like bloggers) and ethical content marketers (ironic given that Google is the biggest and most profitable direct marketer on the planet). Because of this, it’s easy to understand how an argument could be made that Google has gone to the dark side.
But here’s the thing: whether Google is good, neutral, or evil, Google is the search engine people are using right now, so it doesn’t matter where your opinion of them lands.
How Your Content Can Please Google (and other search engines)
You could say the frustration surrounding Google comes mostly from the fact that it “feels” like an impossible feat trying to please the search engine beast.
Plus, even if you were lucky enough to succeed at figuring out how to satisfy this SEO “monster,” tomorrow the expectations could change, and it’d start a whole new game.
But there is hope.
Most small businesses come to find that to have the best possible experience with Google all it takes is one simple idea:
Stop trying to cater to Google and the search engines.
Instead, focus on what all of those businesses from the early SEO days should’ve been focusing on… what your audience wants.
—> Cater to them.
—> Spoil them.
—> Nurture them.
—> Show them a ton of love.
That approach will not only win you favor with your audience (who doesn’t want that kind of love?), but it also tends to be what works best for Google.
Think of it this way: depending on Google for the success of your business is not the way to go.
Google could get taken out by a meteor tomorrow, but your relationship with your audience would still be intact. Put that relationship first, and you’ll always succeed over the long haul.
Isn’t Google Really Hard to Predict?
It’s true that Google has had its share of changes, and because of that some people have given up and simply refuse to learn anything about SEO.
“It’s impossible! It changes all the time anyway.”
It’s kind of hard to argue with that mentality because it does change all the time… sort of.
For the most part, the majority of the changes come in the way Google chases down and weeds out spam. The good news is, if you don’t publish spam, Google doesn’t change as much as you might think it does.
Do some non-spam pages get caught in algorithm changes? Yes.
But 9 times out of 10, those pages that are crying foul are the pages where the quality just isn’t there. They might be following the letter of the law, but they’re definitely not following the spirit of it.
In reality, when the Google webspam team goes to work and ends up changing things, do you want to know what they say pretty much every time they open their mouths?
Don’t publish crappy, low-quality content that no one wants to read in your effort to rank well in the search engines.
We’re paraphrasing here (obviously), but you get the idea. This is precisely why the audience-first approach works so well, and why it has stood the test of time and will continue to endure.
What Works Long Term in SEO Practices
The clients here at Scott Digital Marketing have always done nicely with SEO and rank for some incredibly competitive terms, in equally as competitive industries and markets.
It’s tempting to think that these clients somehow have an unfair advantage, but they started out just like everyone did.
First, we worked with our clients to write about interesting topics in a way that their audiences hadn’t seen before. We studied the data together and noted things like putting a great, benefit-rich headline on a blog post works just as great as a benefit-rich headline works for a sales page.
We set out to create compelling content that teaches our clients audience something they didn’t know until they read our stuff.
Next, we partnered together to cultivate relationships with other industry publishers and worked to be exceedingly careful with brand reputation.
Lastly, we worked on the idea that good SEO comes down to:
- Content that’s both useful and interesting. (George B Thomas says “helpful and humble is best” and we believe him!)
- Paying close attention to your audience and what they’re asking for.
- Sticking to high editorial standards, like attention-grabbing headlines and easy-to-read content with things like sub-headers.
- Evolving and updating their site to keep up with their audience and what they need.
- Properly claiming and creating your Google My Business listing is CRITICAL for businesses who are more local and regional in nature. This is a must!
Creating quality content that is beneficial to you, your clients, and to Google is a win-win-win situation. That’s a lot of wins!
Stop getting bogged down by this idea of understanding all the ins and outs of SEO. Instead, partner with us at Scott Digital and let’s create quality content that drives people to your website and brings in the conversions you’re looking for.