So you pumped a good portion of your marketing dollars into search engine optimization (SEO) for your website. Your SEO tactics employed proven tech wizardry designed to help your website rank higher in organic search results. Good page titles? Check. Meta tag descriptions? Check. Keyword-rich content? Check. And GADZOOKS! For a week or two, your website ranked high and was easy to find using major search engines.
Then, it disappeared.
SEO alone without high-quality content won’t promote your website in the long term or guarantee a spot on page one of the search results. Consumers may find you, but SEO can’t guarantee leads converted into sales.
Truth is, SEO is designed to help websites appeal to search engines. But you’re marketing to your consumers—not to search bots. As the authors of the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide write, “Search engine optimization is about putting your site’s best foot forward when it comes to visibility in search engines, but your ultimate consumers are your users, not search engines.”
Here are three common mistakes website owners make when deploying SEO tactics in pursuit of search engine rankings.
Creating content for search engines, not people. This common mistake is nothing new. Yet it’s still being made, over and over again. How many times have you searched on a keyword for something you wanted to buy or research, clicked on one of the top search results links, only to land on a website that didn’t contain the content you expected? Unscrupulous agencies will claim SEO can “fool the search engines” into ranking your website higher. Truth is, if your website doesn’t provide searchers with the information they need, they will click off in a New York nanosecond.
Creating content for you, not your audience. SEO may get your website found. Then what? If your content doesn’t engage consumers around their interests, passions, problems and challenges, you’ll lose them. Example: Just about every website has a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section. I’m still astounded at how frequently FAQ pages read nothing like the questions I have as a consumer. It’s not just what information you want to share, but what your audience needs and wants to hear from you. Get to know your audiences and what’s driving them to your website, as that will help you create a wealth of quality, search-worthy content.
Not providing unique, timely, relevant content. The Google SEO primer is 32 pages of SEO best practices. But right up front, it lets you know, “Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here.” Interesting content that speaks to consumers’ wants and needs helps a website increase its own recognition. Content needs to be original, timely and regularly refreshed. Analyze your content for what’s working best and what needs to be shelved. It’s important to figure out what drives your audience, then come up with a plan to create great content and get it out in front of the people you want to engage.
As our guest blogger Bastiaan Ellen wrote, every company needs to be in the publishing business (i.e., to create meaningful content that engages their audiences). At the same time, great website content deserves a boost so consumers can find it—whether it’s via search engine optimization, social media marketing or other content marketing efforts.
The debate over SEO vs. content marketing has been going on for a long time. But it’s like arguing over who is better, Batman or Superman? Truth is, they both have their strengths. Together, they make a winning team.