As a digital strategist, I spend a lot of time considering how SEO fits into my clients’ marketing strategies. Some of my clients come to me with years of experience using SEO tactics. They look to me for big picture advice on how to increase leads or improve conversion rates. For these clients, it’s easy to discuss the finer points of semantic search or local mobile optimization strategies.
Other clients are brand new to the SEO world. They’ve heard keywords or backlinks are the secret to ranking higher on Google, so they’ve puffed content up with keyword phrases or are on a single-minded backlink building mission.
And you know what? Their audience numbers are low and engagement is worse. They’ve got a high bounce rate and low click through rate. They’ve spent so much time worrying about how to make their blog or website perfect for Google that they’ve forgetting about their real audience: people. That’s why I tell them to forget about SEO. Really.
Before everyone starts to panic, I’m not saying that SEO is worthless or that you shouldn’t take the time to learn SEO basics. While search engines have become increasingly sophisticated, they can’t “see” your web page the same way that a human can. As Moz points out in their guide to why SEO matters, “without SEO, a website can be invisible to search engines.” That said, too much focus on SEO can be just as bad.
Great SEO takes time. You can’t ascend to the top of Google’s search results overnight nor can you instantly monetize your blog. Focusing on SEO to increase your traffic at the expense of building real relationships with your audience is a waste of time.
Worse, you never know what SEO mistakes you are making unless you gain some basic SEO skills. You might get penalized for keyword stuffing or building bad backlinks. Link audits and cleanup efforts to undo the damage done by low-quality SEO can cost you serious time and money.
Blogging for the first time? Here’s which SEO strategies are worth your attention.
1. Create a content distribution model
Plenty has been written about the importance of content creation. But the job isn’t done once you hit “publish”– you’re just getting started. Consider which avenues you’ll be using for content distribution. On which social media channels are your audience most active? Do you have enough email addresses to start a weekly or monthly email article digest for your blog? There’s no need to reinvent the wheel with your social media and email marketing. Consider how your existing content can be atomized and repackaged into snackable content for easy distribution.
2. Understand your audience
What are your top sources for referral traffic? How long do visitors typically stay on a page? How far down the page do they get? Time spent analyzing website traffic and engagement metrics will give you valuable insights into the content your audience finds most valuable and which content doesn’t work. Set up an analytics dashboard to centralize all your important data like pageviews, clicks, CTR, time on page and other engagement metrics.
3. Build relationships
Building great inbound links is hard work. One of the most common “quick fix” tactics – spamming the comments section on blogs – won’t get you the quality backlinks you need in the long run. Real relationships will. Hubspot defines a backlink as an inbound link coming to your site from another site. Backlinks from quality sites drive more traffic to your site and help you rank higher. So, what’s the top way to earn quality backlinks? Do the sharing first.
A blog is a social tool. The more you link to other blogs in your field, the more likely it is that they’ll link back to you. Curate and publish helpful resource lists. Reach out to bloggers and invite them to author a guest post on your blog. (They’ll likely reciprocate the favor with an invitation to post on their blog.) Reach out to experts in their field and ask for their advice that you’ll include in an “expert roundup” series. When you focus on building relationships first, the inbound link building will naturally follow.
The Bottom Line on SEO
When you obsess over SEO tactics or blog monetization, you lose sight of the bigger picture: building a strong relationship with your audience. Put the reader first. Create meaningful content that brings real value to their lives and then repackage this content for easy distribution and consumption.
Take a holistic view of your website analytics data. Use this information to better understand your audience and their needs, rather than to worry about marginally CTR improvements. Finally, engage your fellow bloggers and be part of the blogging community. When you put people first, you’ll build a strong audience and higher SEO rank and monetization opportunities will naturally follow.
Jeremy Webb Blog | Startup Grind https://www.startupgrind.com/blog/why-seo-is-a-waste-of-time-for-new-bloggers/