In the SEO and digital marketing industry, we famously analyze and panic over every update Google makes to its search algorithms.
This was me, too — panicking over new changes, furiously sending technical reports to my clients, and scouring the search publications for more information. But, one day, I realized that I was thinking about it all wrong. Everyone around me was thinking about it all wrong.
Despite all the momentary dips and changes, Google’s algorithm all boils down to one thing: creating as much great content as you can to connect to your user. We know where it’s going, so then why are we worrying so much about how it gets there?
Stop Making Content for a Machine
I recently tweeted out this plea to marketers:
Every day I speak with clients about their content and SEO efforts. I implore them to think about their users first, to create thoughtful, snackable content that speaks to their audience, and not to a machine.
Think about it: if you’re constantly creating content that’s “just for Google,” then everything you do is being controlled by a highly-advanced, self-learning math equation floating out in space.
Wil Reynolds has been saying this for years:
I’m so frustrated by how many people talk about Panda like it’s a race to the bottom. Algorithms change. We know that Google is trying to make sure people find the best answer possible on the web, so why do I still have to say “audiences over algorithms” at conferences? – Wil Reynolds
Stop worrying about a keyword-focus, and start worrying about a user-focus.
Users are your potential customers, and having a strong piece of content that showcases your awesome products will bring you much more business, and similar — if not, better — organic visibility.
Wait a minute. Did I say “better organic visibility”? These days, Google is so much more advanced than it once was that you don’t need to follow the algorithm to make it work. You’ll more likely do better in rankings writing natural content, than attempting to game a system that, frankly, can no longer be gamed.
You’ll more likely do better in rankings by writing natural content, than attempting to game a system that, frankly, can no longer be gamed.
Think about the algorithm updates Google has made in the past. Algorithm updates target and penalize thin, low-quality content sites with poor user experience. This is why Google had to release a guidebook spoon-feeding people on writing high-quality content.
If brands and businesses had focused on the customer in the first place — rather than nitpicking every update that is released — it’s likely algorithm updates wouldn’t have affected them in the past nor would they in the future.
Connecting With Your Audience is the Key
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Since I’ve begun to think this way, I’ve had a lot more time to strategize ways to create killer content that can also be optimized to perform well. In search marketing, there is a balance that you can strike between art and science and it’s actually not that hard to do. There’s just one catch: you need to understand your audience and figure out what they like to see, read, and click.
Google is going to continue to change regardless of what you do. The smart marketer will focus on creating a great experience and worthwhile content for their users. And that’s the person I want to work with.