Why SEO Rarely Works...

Aug 15, 2016 | 3 Minute Read

Say SEO and people automatically picture boatloads of free traffic from search engines which can turn their business into an internet sensation overnight. Unfortunately, much of the information about SEO which is doing the rounds out there is just pure myth.

So where are people going wrong with SEO?

Search engines exist to connect their users with the most relevant content for their search queries. It stands to reason then that they will want us to create the best possible content for our audiences. Sure they provide data on what people are searching for, however those were meant to be just ideas for inspiration. And that's where search engine optimization becomes slightly misleading.

Even the term SEO inspires a mindset where we start to think about creating content for search engines, not people. Whereas search engine big wigs have constantly emphasized that brands should stop obsessing over rankings, and just focus on creating high quality, actionable content which helps the users.

Matt Cutts of Google has said - "As long as you're working hard for users, we are working hard to show your high quality content to users as well."

Even Google's quality guidelines state:

The right way to SEO

While you should always be creating quality content for your audience, there are certain actions you can take to make your content more discoverable to the search engines.

For starters, it is best to dedicate each piece of content to one keyword/key phrase. This way there are not too many conflicting thoughts. The keyword should be repeated in the URL, page title, meta description tag and meta keyword tag to help the user, and search engine crawlers understand what the page is about.

When creating content, use H1, H2 and H3 tags and inject main keywords wherever feasible. Do not try to force them in though. The main keyword and its synonyms can also be repeated a few times throughout the text. This is called "keyword density" and while it is no longer much important, it can help the search engines understand what the content is about.

Pictures are also becoming more important in SEO. Use images or graphics to illustrate your content and use the main page keyword in the alt text. This can increase the chances of the image being shown in a search engine's image results.

It is also generally accepted now that long form content with 1,500 or more words is considered higher quality than shorter, 500 word articles. This is because search engines favor more in-depth articles than thinner content. Use shorter, 2-3 line paragraphs to make your text easier to read.

Finally, link between pages on your site to highlight which ones are important. Internal linking can tell a search engines which pages are of a higher priority than others.

While these basics steps are pretty much all you need to be following, if you wish to go into greater depth, then refer to this SEO Starter Guide straight from Google. It covers all the aspects of SEO that you can ever have questions on.

If you want something still more exhaustive, then Google also declassified their Manual Quality Rater's guide which has a LOT of info on almost everything Google considers important.