If you write a blog, run a website, or pretty much do anything online, you know about the value of SEO (Search Engine Optimization if you don't know what we're talking about). Quite simply, SEO is how you get found online. And in a highly saturated online world, finding your content online is more complicated than finding a needle in a haystack. In fact, it's as hard as finding your content online...
So, it makes sense that we would want to utilize techniques and tools to boost our chances of getting found, right?
And everywhere you turn, someone is hyping the value of SEO and what it can do for your business.
They can get you on the first page of Google! They can beat your competition! They can get your site found like never before!
First of all, if anyone comes at you with this (or any other variation of this) crap, run. Run far away. They are lying first of all. And second of all, the tactics they will use to get you the supposed results will likely hurt you more than anything.
You've probably seen these same things, but I get comments on my blog or receive emails frequently, from someone claiming they found my post on page 2 of Google and they can help me get higher rankings and better results. While I don't ever respond because I don't feed trolls, I have to laugh at the irony of their comments and approach.
First of all, if you found me on page 2 of Google, I'm doing a pretty darn good job by myself, thank you very much! Now, if you found me on page 13, maybe you'd be of some value (but we know you're not). Secondly, I know they didn't "find" me. They're just blast commenting and emailing everyone the same message. And trying to take our hard-earned money.
While I do believe in SEO, I also believe it's changing, and is continuing to change. SEO isn't what it used to be - not even what it used to be two years ago. Google is getting smarter with every update. They are penalizing those who use negative tactics like link-baiting or keyword stuffing. And they are rewarding others for creating, quite simply, great content.
I realize "great content" isn't definitive. But it means gone are the days of "tricking" Google and SEO rankings.
Let me give you some examples.
Some of my most popular blog posts in searches are those that don't have "good" SEO (according to my Yoast plugin). In fact, many of them are moderate (orange) at best. And yet they come up on the FIRST page of Google.
These posts may not have the keyword (or phrase) in the title or in the first paragraph. It's in there at some point. But I'm not worried about writing for keywords. I'm worried about writing good, catchy titles and content that flows well and answers your question.
One of my friends, Wade Harman writes a blog about relationship marketing. He has professed numerous times that he does nothing for SEO on his site. He has built more than one thriving website, which produce well in search results, with no attempts to focus on SEO. Instead, he focuses on creating valuable content that people actually want to read.
So, to answer my post question, how important is SEO?
Well, Wikipedia defines SEO as: the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's "natural" or un-paid ("organic") search results.
So, I think SEO is really important. Of course you want to get found "naturally" in search results. But it's not important in the way it used to be.
With every new update and version of Google algorithms, the "traditional" SEO is becoming less important. Google is now looking for more organic phrases, not keywords, that match a search query. It's looking at social shares and even brings in content from those you're connected with on G+ at a higher position in your searches. It considers whether it believes the page to be of good quality. It's looking for how many times your page has been referenced or linked back to - but from other reputable pages and sources, not by link-baiting or link-stuffing tactics.
In general, SEO (currently Google's Hummingbird algorithm) is now looking at the wealth of overall factors determining the value of your content.
So using SEO tactics isn't of much value.
But creating valuable content, that solves a problem, that produces comments and engagement, that gets shared frequently, and that actually addresses the source of the question in a Google search - that SEO is valuable.
Stop trying to make your content show up in Google searches. Instead, focus on giving your audience what they need. And give them as much as you can. Make it relevant, make it good, and make it shareable (you need share icons on your blog posts!).
It will take time. Your post isn't going to show up on Google's first few pages right away, or even in the near future. But as you grow your blog, grow your content, and grow your value by Google standards, your posts will rise higher in the search results.
I promise you this. Because I've witnessed it first hand.