Conventional SEO is kind of dumb, right?

“Your brand’s website and online presence needs to align around targeted customer intent(s), not traditional keywords-focused optimization,” notes Grant Simmons in a 2013 Search Engine Watch post. “Focus toward tactics that will play to Google’s more complex side: Mapping queries to actions, intent research, and aligned content creation.”

Found the above quote here, even though it obviously comes from the Search Engine Watch article linked above. I’ve been thinking about SEO more and more since I went to WordCamp this weekend in Fort Worth. A couple of quick thoughts:

  • This blog is run on WordPress.com. As such, it has some built-in SEO functionality, but I’m not using Yoast or anything like that. My traffic is OK, considering I’ve still been around less than a year — but I do sometimes wonder if I had more SEO “tools,” my traffic would be even better.
  • I’ve worked in the digital space and marketing and content and all those rules, so I have a good understanding of SEO — but hardly a great one.
  • I know SEO isn’t dead, and SEO won’t go away, and keywords will always be important to an extent in terms of how pages get ranked (all that is only logical).

But doesn’t it seem sometimes that SEO, in a conventional sense, is just a game? Others have noted this, and it seems like Google changes algorithms largely in part to avoid that idea — essentially, to make it so that people can’t keyword-load or write their copy to be ranked higher or whatever the case may be.

The game now seems to be quality over quantity (or quality > tactic), which seems like a better fit for the end user of search — namely, I wanted to find something, and rather than being directed to a page that some SEO maven set up, I’m directed to the best page for my needs. That should be the purpose of search, right?

(By the way, when I say “conventional SEO is dumb,” I don’t mean ideas like image loading and page speed and usability, etc. Those are not dumb.)

The best way to conceptualize SEO, I would argue, is this way: it’s not “tips and tricks,” but rather a long-term strategy that takes into account multiple factors.

Here’s the thing that sometimes bothers me about SEO, although it’s a dumb thing to be bothered about:

  • Let’s say you write something really good and interesting, but it lacks the proper keywords to be on the first page of search.
  • It’s possible no one ever reads it.
  • So then, was it good/interesting/valuable if no one read it?
  • In this way, SEO basically takes a great idea and says “No, that’s an idea that will never be discovered, at least online.”
  • The two counter-arguments to this: (1) use social more effectively to spread an idea or (2) write better for the web.

I just think the idea of knowing a series of tips / tricks to game the system — and thus to possibly prevent people from finding what they actually need to find — is dumb. I wonder if the evolution of SEO is one reason that more business still takes place off-line (i.e. face-to-face interaction) than via Google searches: people get frustrated not finding what they need because of the digital mavens in the organizations gaming out the system.

Hopefully that’s going to down-shift now.


Ted Bauer

One Comment

  1. Thanks for the mention Ted! Yep. SEO has changed, but the core elements of quality and answering intent should still be driving SEO efforts. Recent Google updates (and the release of the rater guidelines) underscore this further.. not just keywords, but satisfaction of intent, utility and quality rule!

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