Everyone Wants SEO, (Almost) No One Wants To Do The Work

Photo of gifts, with a soft red photo filter.

Since 2012, I’ve talked to hundreds of business owners. The following belief remains the biggest misconception.

Most people think that SEO is a big shiny button that you push behind the scenes, that makes your site rank automatically.

No effort required.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Understanding What Google Wants

Google’s whole business model depends on them serving the best search results possible to searchers.

In a constant effort to improve their results, Google changes their algorithm at least 200 times a year.

Google also personalizes search results for each person. Meaning, you and I could search for the same thing and get different results. This search personalization is based on things like search history, geolocation of our devices (GPS), what device we’re searching on (phone, tablet, desktop)……you get the picture.

The point is to deliver the best results, not the results that are the most gimmicked…(aka the most over-optimized).

Cream always rises to the top in SEO. That’s why you need to look at SEO as a long term process.

It’s with a heavy heart and a bit of fiery indignation that I tell people:

I can’t want this more than you do.

What We Can Influence, and What We Can’t

Here’s the facts. There are a lot of things that a good web consultant can do to help you improve your SEO.

Yes, we can do all these things — and it will have an effect.

But these things by themselves won’t take you to Page One of Google.

To get to Page One, it takes your participation.

You, or someone in your organization, needs to give Google a reason to believe you are Page One material for your given industry.

Search Algorithms: Then and Now

A long time ago, all you had to do to get rankings was build back links to your site. Basically this was just finding as many sites as possible, and putting a link back to your website on them.

Search engines today are a lot more sophisticated.

In the last few years, Google has focused really hard on treating user searches as questions. Users are not typing search phrases so much as they are typing questions that they want answers to.

For Google, or any other search engine to succeed, they have to deliver the best answers possible to those questions, in the form of search results.

So this is something you need to ask yourself about the pages on your website:

If I type in {whatever search phrase you want to rank for}, is there a page on my site that is a better answer to that question than all the other pages that are above it?

If you look at this with unbiased eyes, you will see what you have to do. Create pages that are deeper and more informative than the ones outranking you.

Your SEO firm or web consultant can’t do this alone. You have to be an active participant in the content creation process.

Quality Content Cures Many Ills

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll know we discuss content marketing a lot.

Content marketing, if you’re unfamiliar with that term, means publishing around a given subject.

It means publishing information in the form of blogs, videos, podcasts — heck even print. Books, and articles in newspapers and magazines can truly be considered content marketing.

What does all this publishing do to improve your search visibility?

Well, for one thing, after a while, it shows Google a pattern. If you have a long history of publishing around the same subject, then it shows Google that your site is knowledgeable about that subject. Therefore, you are considered an authority.

You see, there are a million new websites a day being launched. If you’re a search engine, you need several systems for establishing who has credibility on a subject, and who doesn’t.

Simply put, the businesses who consistently publish about a subject are more credible on that subject to the search engines than those who never publish or publish sporadically.

You can take any site and make the individual pages rank for specific terms — if they provide more useful information than the pages that outrank them, and you handle the other SEO factors (back links, technical SEO, user experience).

In a 2015 survey of search experts, domain authority was chosen as the most important factor in individual pages ranking.

Here is the chicken-and-egg scenario when it comes to domain authority. Domains gain authority by getting back links from closely related sites. Your website will not gain back links or get social shares unless you publish quality information about your selected subject.

As an experiment, take a look at your blog, and find the last ten posts.

If that tenth post is more than two years old, then you are not publishing often enough to seem authoritative to search engines.

Now take a look at sites that are on Page One of Google for your industry. Take a look at their blog and publishing schedule. To find their tenth most recent post, you may only be traveling back in time one month.

Don’t get it twisted. Publishing more frequently isn’t a silver bullet by itself.

First and foremost, you have to have quality content. You have to answer the questions your potential customers are searching for better than your competitors.

So there’s three factors that you really have to do if you’re serious about SEO.

  • Publish often.
  • Publish on the same subject, over and over.
  • Have higher quality, more informative content than the pages you’re trying to outrank.

Publish Thoughtfully, Publish Often

I know, SEO isn’t easy.

I’ve been through this process with a few of my own sites. The same thing always holds true.

To rank, you have to publish. A lot.

You can’t publish thin content or cut corners. You have to actually answer the questions people are asking when they type search terms into Google, or you won’t rank.

It’s really a question of how bad you want it.

But yet, I’m always amazed how many businesses burn money on PPC (pay-per-click) advertising to get a short burst of traffic.

With the money that would normally be spent on search advertising, why not create quality content?

The benefits of strong content increase with each article you publish. Publishing quality content establishes you as an authority to your customers, as well as the search engines.

I Say This With Love

Don’t consider this article as an admonishment. Instead, think of it as a wake-up call.

You can hire a web consultant to make sure the technical pieces of your site are prepared to hold and highlight your content.

But if you don’t publish anything, it’s like opening up a present on Christmas and finding out you only got an empty box.

Once you have the structurally sound and pretty box, please make sure you put something inside of it.

That is how you will win at SEO.

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Avatar for John Locke

John Locke

John Locke is an SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps established businesses rank higher through his web agency. Lockedown Design.

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