Taking SEO Way Too Seriously | Why Most Bloggers Fail #4

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Hey everyone, thanks for joining me for my fourth edition of the “Why Most Bloggers Fail” Series. Today, we’re going to talk about the controversial topic of SEO. In my post 20 Random Facts About Me, one of the facts I shared about me is that I don’t believe in SEO. That drew up quite a bit of controversy behind the scenes. I had one of my blogger friends tell me that an approach without SEO is crazy, and others back him up. I also had a few bloggers send emails interested in the idea of not concerning yourself with SEO and wondering how I get links, traffic, and authority without any focus on it. So, today, I figured I’d share what SEO really is, what shady marketers have turned the meaning of SEO into, why I don’t believe in the approach most of those who practice SEO take, and what you can do instead of focusing your efforts on SEO. So, we’ve got a lot to talk about, let’s get right to it…

What Is SEO…Really?

Because today’s idea of SEO is far different than what the term was originally designed for, I figured I’d share the real meaning of SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization; which is the process of making sure your site can perform well in search engines. Believe it or not, the real SEO is a completely on-site process. It includes updating meta tags to be relevant, including rich snippets in your code, focusing on site load times, and making sure you’ve got a decent interlinking web within your blog from one article to another.

What Shady Marketers Have Turned SEO Into

Today’s idea of SEO is far more complicated than inserting a few codes and making sure you’ve got fast load times. Today’s SEO is all about building links in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings. This is where my problem comes in. When I was growing up, I learned a lot from Mom and Dad…one of those things being that manipulation is a bad thing. Let’s put it this way. When I wanted a lolly pop as a kid and Dad told me no, I would immediately run to Mom and ask for the lolly pop…Of course, I didn’t tell her Dad said no. As a result, Mom would give me the lolly pop because I manipulated her idea of what was really going on. Of course, I dealt with the back lash once Dad found out; and over time, learned that manipulation was wrong. In a sense, today’s SEO is the same thing. Google, Bing, and Yahoo! all tell us to write quality content, build communities naturally around that content, and as a result links within those communities will allow us to rank. So, should we take this information and warp it taking only one piece…the idea that links lead to rankings? Or should we be looking at the entire picture for long term results? So, as bloggers, and ultimately marketers, should we really be manipulating search engine results? Should we be focusing on ways to get this link and that link in an attempt to fool the search engines into thinking that we’re an authority for that particular phrase? I don’t think so!!!

My Experiences With Today’s SEO

When I first started blogging and dreaming of income from niche websites, I did countless hours of research into the idea of SEO, and what it’s turned into today…black hat link building. I would read an article that told me a strategy was good, do a bit of research to back up the claims, and employ the strategies on my sites. As soon as I started getting results, I would read other articles that would tell me the strategy was the wrong way to approach SEO and that it needed to change drastically. So, I’d do research, change my strategy, get results, loose results, do more research, change my strategy, get more results, lose them again….OK, I think you’re getting it! Over more time than I care to admit, I found that the idea of off-site SEO was pointless. I was chasing links in quantity, doing jumping jacks, cart wheels, and back flips to get featured here, there, and everywhere; only to eventually figure out that the strategy I was employing could get me penalized. It was a disaster!

Then I Had My Eureka! Moment

Once I had enough with chasing strategies that wouldn’t get me penalized, it hit me! Years ago, when I read what Google and Yahoo! wanted (at the time Bing wasn’t around), I had the key to success right there. The key was to build quality content that readers would get something out of. As a result, readers would share my content, ultimately leading to links, more readers, more shares, and more links! However, this time, I had absolutely no control over anchor text, where the links went, what position they had in the post, what other links were included in the post, I had absolutely no control over my link building strategy. I essentially gave up on manipulating my link profile.

Guess What Happened

Because I wasn’t focusing on links to this post and the “Off-Site SEO Value” of that post, I started to really focus on my readers. I started to think, “What is it that DC, Laurie, Jeremy, Andrew, and the other bloggers in our community want to read?”, “What can I provide of value that’s not already out there?”, and “What can I do to keep my readers coming back?” As a result, my content became more personal, more compelling. Because I stopped thinking about the keyword density in my posts, my writing started to flow more naturally. I could finally be me. Sure, it was a slow growth process, but everything just started to feel right. A couple months into taking the “Natural…SEO free” approach, I started to notice some real changes. Although my link numbers weren’t growing so rapidly anymore, my traffic numbers were growing faster than ever. My PageRank jumped from a 2 to a 4, and my domain authority started to skyrocket. Because I had absolutely no control over my link profile, it became incredibly natural. Because I focused on my community and what they wanted, links started rolling in more often.

So should I completely forget about links?

NO! I’m not saying links aren’t important, what I’m saying is that you shouldn’t focus your time on controlling the links to your site. Instead, focus your time on linking to other bloggers in your posts, commenting on other blogs, and being part of the community. As a result, the community will welcome you with open arms, and more quality links than you could build as a one man SEO army!

The Big Takeaway

When you keep the feelings of others in mind, no matter what you’re doing, good things will happen. Today’s concept of off-site SEO is a concept of manipulation that pays no attention to what should matter the most, your readers! So, from now on, stop focusing on SEO and start focusing on what you can do to provide value to your community. When I started bringing value to my community, they started to value what I had to say. When I started reaching out to my community, they started to reach out to me. The blogging relationship is a two way relationship. If you’re not going to put a ton of effort into building links without thinking about your audience, you’re making a futile effort at an unachievable goal!

Have You Missed Previous Editions?

Why Most Bloggers Fail…And Why You Won’t!

Selfishly Being Selfless|Why Most Bloggers Fail #2

News Flash The Internet Is Monitored | Why Most Bloggers Fail #3

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Hey, Im Joshua, the founder of CNA Finance. I enjoy following the trends in the market and finding the catalysts that are making the moves. If you want to get in contact with me, leave a comment below or email me at CNAFinanceHelp@gmail.com Please keep in mind that I am not an investment advisor and nor is CNA Finance. This is a news and information gathering outlet. We may work directly with some of the companies that we write about. If we have a business relationship with an issuer, we will mention that in the articles. We also have various affiliate relationships with advertisers and may be paid if you sign up for a service that you were referred to through our website.

36 COMMENTS

  1. Great insight- I was also wondering what you meant by not believing in seo. I agree with you that building relationships with readers and the community is where one should focus their energy. It’s so hard to game the search engines, and things are always changing. If you try and keep up with that, you won’t have time for anything else!

    • Hey Lauren, thanks for swinging by. I couldn’t agree more. Community building far outweighs link building in several ways!

  2. The section “Guess What Happened” alone makes this post awesome. I think you are spot on that you need to provide something of value to others. That’s the whole value proposition of blogging after all, isn’t it? In all honesty my good “SEO” posts are random ones like my “why living in Hawaii sucks” post and my random post about how much sinus surgery costs (have had a couple of them!). Besides that I want to create content that provides value and that people find useful. Otherwise I’m just wasting my time.

    Awesome post!

    • Thanks DC! I’m with you, it’s all about creating something great. Sorry to hear you’ve had a couple sinus surgeries, I’ve never had one, but I know any surgery is expensive. See ya around!

  3. I love this series Josh!! I blogged for about three months before I even heard of or thought of the word SEO. I know that my site’s is not good and I have to clean up the old stuff, but I really just don’t care. I am not looking to make money off my site, I am just looking to have quality conversation and build a community. As I shared today, most people who come to me from search engines, searched me! 🙂 Anywho, thank you so much for sharing my post this week! I hope that you have a fabulous weekend!!

    • What are you talking about “I know that my site’s not good”… you’re nuts! I love your site. I hope you’re just talking in terms of SEO. In that case…it really doesn’t matter all that much. I saw that post today…and loved it by the way! My pleasure, great to see ya… hope to see you around more!

  4. Another great post. We’ve had convos on SEO and I do believe there are things we can do to improve. Great content is key and not chasing the latest SEO fad too. There are tried and true methods we can all do to be found more easily. But, I don’t believe in increasing SEO for the sake of it.

    • Hey Jason, yes we’ve definitely touched on the subject in the past. There are definitely things you can do to get the natural links rolling in and build authority, but like Rand says, I don’t think SEO is really what you want. I’ll touch base on that when we chat over the phone…I look forward to it. See ya soon!

  5. We share the same SEO thoughts. Sure I want my blog to be great and for people to read it, but I don’t want to try and make the system like me blog.

    Also I chalk some of the SEO stuff in the category of I’m not sure if I’m smart enough to figure out, I’m not working for Google or Apple or a tech company for a reason it’s not my strength.

    • Hey Even Steven, I’m glad you’re not trying to make the system like you. After all, you’re already a pretty likable guy with an awesome blog. Do things naturally and you’ll definitely go places. Thanks for swinging by!

  6. I use the Yoast SEO plugin and I just make sure I get the green light other than that I don’t really focus on it. I like your ideas relating to SEO and think this is they way to go. Build a community and provide valuable information. To me blogs are suppose to be personal and that is why people come around.

    • You know, I’m glad you mentioned this plugin. I use Yoast too, but Yoast is based on traditional SEO, not what shady marketers turned SEO into. I still do believe in description tags and such! Thanks for swinging by!

  7. Great timing for this post (for me) as last night I was starting to google ‘SEO best practices’ far too much. I was getting into some grey/black hat sort of stuff. Esentially manipulating the search engines.. which like you said, can get you throw down in a hurry if they find out (which search is getting so smart, they are bound to).

    This article really makes good sense to me. Plus, even if I were to do what you were doing earlier… how fulfilling would that be? Doesn’t sound like you had a lot of fun earlier trying to work the system.

    And YEP. That lolli pop tasted great for five minutes but they you got a big dallop of guilt afterwards. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hey Will, I’m glad I caught you in time. It’s really not worth running around in circles trying to figure out what the next update will bring. And as far as you go, you’ve got an awesome blog and your content is superb. Just give it time and keep doing what you’re doing. And you’re definitely right about the lolly! Glad to see you around so much, thanks for showing your support!

        • Thanks Will, if we don’t genuinely care about our audience…that doesn’t really leave us in a good spot. I’m glad you noticed that I care and you’re very welcome, your site and what you’re doing with it rocks!

  8. I am surprised and happy at the same time to see that somebody has a SEO strategy similar to mine. The results of this strategy appear very slowly, though, and you get demoralized every now and then when you see people doing black hat things who outrank you. But in the end, you get a good night’s sleep, knowing that future Panda and Penguin updates and so on won’t harm your site because you did not do anything illegal. And Google will always catch, in the end, those who do.

    Links are extremely important, probably the most important thing for a website’s success, but getting them naturally is the only way to do it if you don’t want to risk your business.

    • Hey Calin, the natural concept may take longer…absolutely takes longer…no doubt! But the results are forever when you do it right. I’m glad to hear that you use the same concepts.

    • Hey Stefanie, I hope that plugin was Yoast. Onsite SEO is a good thing, but all you really need to do for that is use Yoast and possibly W3 Total Cache for load times. The offsite seo is what irks me. Links do happen naturally, you just have to provide quality…and you’re pretty darn good at that!

  9. I, too, use Yoast SEO, but that’s about all I focus on with SEO. I completely agree that having quality content that provides value to the community is more beneficial. The system and algorithms are always changing, and I’m not about to spend hours and hours getting lost trying to find the solution!

    • Hey EM, I wish I had that mindset when I started. All I wanted to do was fool the system, but thankfully I learned quickly. Thanks for swinging by!

  10. I always thought that content was king. If you have good content then people will come, and if people come it will naturally help your SEO.

    I’ve never really looked to much into “tricks and Tips” to help your SEO rankings. Obviously helping contribute to the community helps but overall I think that the content that you produce is going to give you the best results.

    • Zee, I couldn’t agree more, Content is King! However, it is important here and there to show your community some link love too. Afterall, when you do that, they’re more likely to show appreciation for your content. I would never go asking for links…that’s not my thing. But, I do find ways to reward my community through my blog and as a result, I get rewarded. So, content is king, but it’s also to remember that little prince reciprocation. Thanks for swinging by!

  11. Nowadays when search engines like Google and Yahoo are more aware of the black hat link buildings, I believe fewer people actually use this method because they could be penalized rather easily. I believe SEO is still important, but it’s silly to use it as the only method to promote your website, considering the web is more saturated and harder to get into the first page. I agree now it’s time to focus on the readers and create content that will keep them coming back.

    • Hey Poor Student, you’d be surprised at how few people actually understand the difference between black and white hat link building. In most cases, it’s best just not to focus on link building at all and just let the links come naturally when it comes to blogs. Of course, it’s important to do things that will make people want to link to you. Things like showing love to your community, providing unique value, etc… are all important. But that all boils down to quality content!

  12. I’ve actually never attempted to improve the SEO on my site, but do plan on educating myself about all the best practices you’ve mentioned in this post. I’ve really wanted to focus on improving my writing and strong content before I began attempting to improve my SEO.

    • I think it’s awesome that you’ve never even attempted anything SEO! Believe it or not, you’re probably better off for it. Not to mention…DUDE YOUR SITE ROCKS! Thanks for swinging by!

  13. Thanks for this, Joshua. I really go back and forth with the whole SEO thing and whether or not I should do better with it on the site (I pay little to no attention to it now). Your article helped me make up my mind. 🙂

    • Hey Greg, although I can understand the balance, the concept of building links is generally a bad one. Doing things on site to build links naturally is always a good idea, but reaching out for external sources isn’t something I personally agree with. But then again, we always have the option to agree to disagree. Thanks for swinging by!

  14. I’m glad you said there’s nothing more that needs to be done relative to SEO except write good blog posts, because that, maybe a few guest posts and visiting blogs is about all I have time for. LOL I would think that a post written specifically to try to maximize SEO would be easy to spot and not seem completely genuine would it not? Sort of like the boiler plate marketing type blogs. Just wondering… but not worrying. 😉 Thanks for another great article, Josh!

    • Hey Debs, I definitely understand the time issue…But then again, it’s not an issue because you’ve got nothing to worry about. And I have to agree with you about an SEO maximized post not seeming genuine…you hit the nail on the head there!

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