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!
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