What comes to mind when you think about SEO mistakes? At Fair Marketing, we think about things like 301 redirect failures, or a failure to build a good XML site map. It’s true that these technical mistakes can cause problems for our clients. They’re also relatively easy to fix, which is why many SEOs focus time, energy, and attention on them, ourselves included.
Unfortunately, the big mistake in this case is thinking that these technical details alone can make a site rank-worthy.
But a site is only rank-worthy if it’s worth visiting. It’s our goal to make a site worth visiting and staying. However, over emphasis on technical thinking is what makes less-experienced SEOs utter inane comments like, “Don’t worry about this article saying pretty much the same thing as the last one. Nobody reads this stuff.” It also leads less-experienced SEOs to insist on exact-match keywords like “Mt. Everest height,” (or worse–height Mt. Everest) instead of using the more natural, “How high is Mt. Everest?” Why? Because their keyword research said that “height Mt. Everest” got a lot of hits. At Fair Marketing, we understand the distinction.
Why are SEOs so inclined to make this mistake?
There’s comfort in it. Technical details are concrete. They’re either correct or not. When you fix a 301-redirect, that’s it. However, you don’t know when a piece of content will be shareable. You can make guesses about whether it’s going to be useful or convert customers, but guesses are all you have, unless you develop a system that identifies patterns and similarities of good content. At Fair Marketing, we’ve used these systems and strategies to create long-lasting, “evergreen” content for our clients. Once you’ve ensured that the content is readable and grammatically correct, you’ve come to the end of objectivity. Whether or not a piece of content is “good” is subjective.
“Content is King”
SEOs say this often, but King Content can be a tyrannical and capricious ruler, and specialists often struggle to placate him. “What makes good content?” “You know…it’s uh, killer stuff. Really useful. Insightful.” “So how do I create good, insightful content?” “You just, um…make it shareable. With uh…good headlines and stuff.” It sounds like talking to a crazy person, because nobody wants to admit they don’t know what will be a hit and what won’t. Because they don’t have Fair Marketing’s unique background and stellar content team.
Subjectivity is scary.
Sure, you can write two versions of the same content and A/B test them to death. We do it all the time, and it’s a great way to optimize a page for higher conversions. But even after, you might be left scratching your head, trying to figure out why piece “A” performed better than piece “B.” You can also make sure web pages match buyer intent (remember those systems we talked about?), using data to develop an understanding of customer questions so you can answer them effectively. There are best practices to fall back on as well.
Data analysis has taught us some headlines are stronger than others, some call-to-action practices produce higher conversions, and that there is an ideal paragraph length that keeps readers interested instead of chasing them away. But there is no simple solution for creating a piece of content that’s funny, or inspirational. You might think it is, and your writer might too, but it could fall flat with readers. Meanwhile, the piece you felt was uninspired could take off and go viral.
Content First, Technical Details Second.
Consider a website with three small lines of content on it, but which is a gleaming example of technical perfection. Would it be worth visiting? Would it generate leads and sales–the only thing our customers really care about? Would it matter if it was the top-ranking page for the keyword in question? Probably not. It could never sell anything. Because it doesn’t take time to answer a customer’s questions. It wasn’t developed by a dedicated team of writer’s, designers and SEOs like the Fair Marketing team. Of course, a content-rich website that’s full of technical errors will fall in the rankings. We don’t want that either. But technical errors simply cannot be our primary focus.
SEO Technicalities Speak Only to Robots.
They’re important robots, so we have to talk to them. But they aren’t the VIPs. Customers are. Robots don’t pick up the phone and make appointments. Customers do. Robots don’t have credit cards or bank accounts. Customers do. Put another way, flight attendants offer drinks to people flying in coach, but they reserve good food and drinks to people in first class. They make sure first class is cared for before they move to the back of the plane. SEO must work in precisely the same way.