SEO Strategy: Your Approach to SEO is Broken

Or, Why Heart Surgeons Don’t Use Band-Aids

Here is an actual quote I heard during a recent strategy meeting:

“Our primary focus is content marketing, so we really don’t need to plan for any SEO resources.”

For some, it may be easy to immediately recognize everything that is dangerous about the above statement. Unfortunately, the truth is that this is a commonly shared viewpoint when considering the question of “what is Search Engine Optimization?”. Too many of us see search engine optimization strategy as a set of optimization tactics and novel, little technical hacks, which – once implemented – can be checked off a list, never to be thought of again.

But what happens the next time you add a service to your website? Or update a product? Or write a guest blog post? Or change your YP.com profile? Or open a new office? Or… you get the picture. Few, if any, of the myriad of daily tasks necessary for successful digital marketing and the ability to reach your business goals, are possible without SEO.

Today’s SEO Strategy isn’t the SEO Strategy of 2010 (or 2016, for That Matter)

If SEO is not taken into consideration, chances are your content is not going to get noticed, which will prevent prospective customers from even finding your site. It’s that simple. Why?

Fun fact: Google changes its search algorithm upwards of 500 times a year. If you really want to have some fun, check out the Google Algorithm Change History Tracker provided by SEO Moz. From the launch of the Google Toolbar thru Panda and Penguin updates to Mobilegeddon and Interstitial Penalties, this timeline shows just how much the search experience has changed over the last 18 years.

More importantly, what this timeline of evolution tells us is that SEO strategy is not just about putting keywords on a page and getting them to rank. Instead, search engines are so focused on giving the user the best, most relevant content that an effective SEO strategy now has to account for more than 200 variables in the Google Algorithm.

Try, for example, searching for the phrase “SEO Strategy.” What most of us define as a traditional organic search result does not show up until half way down the first page of Google. Before we get to that first organic result, there are a couple of paid advertisements, a Google quick answer, a related answers box and a Twitter feed.

You can clearly see from this search result page: if your goal was to create a page about SEO strategy, add a few keywords, and hope for the best, you are faced with a no-win situation.

Instead, the best strategy is the one that accounts for the type of content the search engines are serving their audience. With that information in hand, create an optimization strategy centered around convincing the search engine that your content is the best and most relevant – be that a tweet, a how-to guide or guest blog post you wrote for Forbes.com.

It’s Search Engine Optimization, Not Google Optimization

Somewhere along the line, the idea of what Search Engine Optimization is has become muddied. And for too many companies, their optimization efforts begin and end with optimizing their website to get their pages to rank in Google. However, a truly effective SEO strategy—one that is built to support all your digital marketing efforts and business objectives—must account for so much more.

Let’s try another search, this time for “SEO service.” Again, you will need to scroll half way down the page before you come across a traditional organic search result. Depending on where you are located geographically, you will also be greeted by up to four paid advertisements, the Local 3-Pack and a quick answers box.

You’ll notice that none of those listings could be attained from a set-it-and-forget-it SEO strategy. Instead, the companies that are excelling in that space are actively creating content, optimizing it for local markets, seeking to earn quality backlinks and – when their organic listings are still out of reach –using paid advertisements to complement their search results.

Heart Surgeons Don’t Use Band-Aids

Relegating SEO to keywords and technical hacks is akin to giving a heart surgeon a Band-Aid. It’s the wrong tool for the wrong job.

In theory, every page, post and link that goes online has the potential to be read and processed by a search engine. SEO should be the heart of every forward-thinking digital marketing strategy. Without it, you are not setting yourself up for long-term digital success you need to elevate your business. Forget the band-aid and make sure your SEO strategy is positioning you for long-term growth.

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About Robert Hosler

Rob is a Senior SEO Strategist at Fathom. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in English from Kent State and with more than seven years of direct SEO experience, Rob prides himself on pairing his knowledge of SEO with creative solutions to help clients always remain one step ahead of the everchanging search engine algorithms. Rob has worked for Fathom since 2011, and over those years he has taken great pride in helping a wide range of client grow their digital footprint. When he’s not heads down in SEO strategy, Rob is an avid reader who enjoys spending time with his wife and two kids.

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