For many years, the big buzzword in marketing was SEO. That’s what everybody focused on. Everybody wanted to be found on Google.
It’s not like SEO is dead. There are still heaps of advantages to ranking well on Google. My issue is that some people still talk about the invention of SEO like it was the invention of the telephone or something.
It was a game-changer, but it’s not the only game-changer, and to focus on SEO exclusively is a bad strategy.
It’s kind of like focussing on being happy. That never truly works. Instead, you focus on doing stuff that you like, hanging out with people you care about, and keeping busy and productive. Happiness ensues.
Have I lost you? Well, let me explain why SEO isn’t what your business should focus all its energy on.
1. Google doesn’t think you’re that important
Google puts the user first. That’s the number one thing you need to know – that Google doesn’t care about your brand. Its focus is on making sure that its user experience is the best that it can possibly be.
For instance, when people search for a certain kind of product (let’s say, for example, cars) they don’t want to see individual car brands. What they’re interested in finding is comparison-based sites that offer a good overview of which car brands are popular and why. That’s all Google cares about – the usefulness of sites to the end user.
If you’re vainly hoping that Google might start to look at sites individually and throw your business a break, don’t count on it. Firstly, they’re desperate to avoid any new search engine coming along and offering a better service, which means they will continue to prioritize the user.
Secondly, if your business has a chance of organically climbing to the top of the rankings, then you won’t need to pay Google to be there. Plus, that would run contrary to Google’s own business agenda. Google wants to make as much money as it can from their position. That’s far easier to accomplish when brands are banished to second or third pages.
2. Content is more important than marketing
Google cares a great deal about the quality of content on your website. The higher the quality, the more likely Google assumes it is that people will appreciate that link showing up in their search results. Hence, a good SEO strategy shouldn’t be so much focused on ranking well in terms of SEO, as having fantastic content that also happens to be SEO-optimized.
Only when you focus on creating high-quality content can you hope to rank well in Google’s search results.
Interestingly, this also subverts previous notions about where to spend money and why. Many companies don’t like to spend much on content creation, but happily spend a great deal of money on marketing that content and building links to it.
It doesn’t make that much sense when you think about it, does it? More money should be spent on creating high-quality content in the first place if marketing content is of the utmost importance.
High-quality content stays around. Slowly gaining more and more traction in the Google algorithm over time, it’s a long-term investment. Marketing campaigns, on the other hand, are a one-time thing. They create momentum for a while, but the moment you stop spending money on them, they stop bringing your site and your pages attention.
Additionally, if you manage to get thousands of people to click through to your content and it’s not very good quality, then they’ll disappear fast. They’ve got better content to look at and Google will see that as a strike against you.
You can see how it’s better to have fewer people stick around for longer – particularly if they like your content so much that they share it across their own networks. It means you get to have your cake (great content) and eat it too (more exposure).
It doesn’t matter who you, content comes first and everything else second.
3. Gaming the system is getting harder
Not convinced about what I’m saying? Well then, go ahead and see if you can still game the system. I’m sure there are still some black hat strategies that haven’t been tried yet. The only problem with that approach, though, is that Google is getting better and better at catching those kinds of loops and shortcuts.
It’s probably because they have so much data already. It means that they can train their algorithms much faster and more effectively. In fact, considering how much more data they have than you do, they’re probably closing holes at a faster rate than black hatters are able to find them.
After all, it’s easier to prevent somebody gaming the system than to close the door when the horse has already bolted.
4. There are better places to spend your budget than SEO
Every dollar you spend on boosting your SEO could be better spent elsewhere. There are plenty of places where investing your money is going to give you better rates of return. For example, you could keep people on your site longer by making it easier for them to search internally. This has other benefits, as it lets you know what people are searching for when they hit certain pages.
One search query keeps coming up time and time again? Then it might be about time you add a button or link that leads straight to the answer of that question.
Similarly, your money might be well spent building up a follower base on social media. This has numerous benefits. For example, it will give you a captive audience for whatever content you put up. This means that it is far more likely to be shared (which, in turn, indirectly boosts your SEO).
Even better, it keeps the customers you already have in the loop and engaged. And that’s far more important than getting new customers. After all, your current customers will spend 67% more on average than new customers.
5. There are better places to rank
All that not enough to convince you? Then consider this. True aficionados for specific products don’t really use Google anymore. They’ll go directly to specific platforms to buy the products that they need. These might be eBay, Etsy, Pinterest, Amazon, or some other similar site.
Why not consider trying to rank well on these sites instead? Yes, their collective audiences are smaller, but because they’re specifically dedicated to informing users about whatever product they’re looking for, the conversion rate is much higher.
What’s more, as not everybody has moved onto these places yet, as a small brand, you’ll be far more likely to get ahead and rank near the top when people specifically search for something you offer. That can be incredibly valuable. So why not check that out? As a starting point, here’s a guide to rating well on Etsy.
The SEO train is becoming less important. Google has followed in Facebook’s footsteps and is taking serious steps to monetize their searches. That means that even if you do rank well, there will still be competitors listed above you, no matter what.
A much better strategy is to make sure that everything that you have on your site is of high quality, that you have a good following across major social media networks, and that you rank well for any specialized networks that sell goods similar to what you’re trying to sell. Ultimately, that will be far more effective and far more likely to have you rank highly than spending a year pushing yourself up using tired SEO tricks.
The best part is, if you do all of these other things and do them well, then you’ll still rank well on Google anyway, as they’re becoming better than ever at reading what is actually high-quality content (and all these steps make sure that you build it). So really, it’s a win-win all around.