Content Marketing Overtakes SEO as Google’s Quest to Be “Human” Continues

by Marcus Sheridan

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Matt Cutts gave us a little preview recently about the direction of Google and search in general. While attending the mother of all digital conferences SXSW, Cutts was asked this question:

“With so many SEO companies showing up claiming to do SEO, a lot of markets are getting saturated with optimized content…What are you doing to prevent, for example, if you’re looking for something, and the first page is just optimized content, and it’s not what you’re actually looking for? Are you pretty much out of luck if you’re not optimizing your site but it has relevant content? If I’m a mom or pop and I’m trying to optimize a site by myself, I’m going to get beat by people paying thousands of dollars.”

Ahh yes, a dang good question indeed—one that drives mom and pop stores all over the world crazy as they struggle to get a website up and produce content—much less do it in such a way that gives Google a warm-fuzzy.

Write for “Normal People”

But here is where Cutts made more than one eyebrow raise when he said sites would be penalized if they:

“throw too many keywords on the page, exchange way too many links, whatever they’re doing to go beyond what a normal person would expect.

Surprised anyone?  Many were with Cutts’ remarks but the only thing I could think when I read this was, “Of course we should be writing for normal people. Who the heck else are would we write for?”

The Humanization of Google

Google is moving towards being so good at search that they are almost able to read a page and its content  as if they were a literal person, so much so that if they smell a rat (over-optimization), they’re going leave. (or in this case, penalize the site)

Speaking of penalties, I was reminded of an article I wrote a few months back about “How to Build Inbound Links without Selling Your Soul to the Devil” when I read here how Google put the ultimate beat-down on “Build My Rank”, a tool that has been used by many, many folks to build (in a rather non-organic way) inbound links and ultimately search rankings to their websites.

Oh, and as for all those sites that used the tool? Yep, many of them have now been Google-slapped as well and could be in serious trouble of staying in “search purgatory” if they don’t fix the error of their ways.

You know, I’ve read about these types of tools many, many times but I’ve always come back to one thought:

If Google was a real human being and knew these links were crapola, would they be pleased?

Fool’s Gold

In other words, as marketers we have got to stop thinking we can “game” Google. Their search algorithm is getting better and better with each new update. What many thought was earth shattering with “Panda” will look like chicken-feed five years from now.

With some of the smartest people in the world heading up their search department, it’s fool’s gold to constantly look for shortcuts and shady methods of building links and stuffing pages with keywords in an unnatural way.

The Age of Great Content Marketing

But the solution to all of this is the same thing it has been since the search engine was invented by Alan Emtage in 1990—produce great content that people care about.

Or, as Cutts put it at SXSW:

“Make a compelling site. Make a site that’s useful. Make a site that’s interesting. Make a site that’s relevant to people’s interests…”

Well look at that…No mystery. No grand scheme. We just need to produce content that doesn’t stink.

And how do we do this? For an in-depth look, you may want to read my list of the 50 habits of the best business blogs in the world that was written a few weeks ago.

But for the shorter version, here are some thoughts:

Answer people’s questions. All of them. And don’t try to be smart. Just be real. Think like a teacher. Embrace honesty. Seek transparency. And make this a culture that lasts as long as your company is living and breathing.

Make sense?

SEO has it’s Place

Am I anti-SEO? No, of course not. I strongly believe we should target keywords as a business. I also believe we should put Google in a position to understand our stuff by providing sensible titles, URLs, meta descriptions, etc– things that are just components of a solid content marketing strategy.

At the core, we should write content as if we’re talking to a friend sitting next to us in a coffee shop.

In other words, we need to be real. That’s it.

By so doing, there is a very good chance Google (and the rest of the search engines) will take notice. And when all of our competitors are crying the blues that their website rankings keep falling, you can laugh all the way to the bank as your exceptional content continues to carry the day.

Your Turn:

I think we can all agree that although Google is still an imperfect search engine, they are certainly headed in the right direction in terms of judging quality content. I’m curious—How long do you think it will take Google to be practically “human” when it comes to search? 1 year? 5 years? Never? And do you think that most people will eventually stop trying to “game” the system or do you feel that will always be a part of the digital age?

Your opinions matter here folks, so take a look ahead with me and add your thoughts below.

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

Adarsh Thampy March 23, 2012 at 9:55 am

Marcus,

One thing I’d like to say. SEO does involve everything which includes content marketing. When you do genuine SEO, content marketing is just part of it. Not something different.

I think the point the general population dont get, is that SEO is not just shady link schemes. It’s

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Adarsh Thampy March 23, 2012 at 9:56 am

… about PR and everything that you do to promote a site.

P.S: sorry about the break in comment. I did not realize I pressed the enter key :)

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 6:17 pm

1000% agree Adarsh. The two should overlap completely IMO.

Have a great weekend bud and thanks for stopping in my man.

Marcus

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Ryan Hanley March 23, 2012 at 10:07 am

Marcus…

I seriously hate all the SEO stuff. It’s too much for non-professional marketer to think about.

If you’re a small business or professional services firm and you’re trying to build an Online presence without completely outsourcing the operation (Which is absolutely possible and viable and in my opinion in most cases should be OPTION #1) than trying to figure, stay on top of and succeed at SEO is a fools errand.

Write the way your client’s speak… Understand that Google ranking is going to take time… Believe… Keep writing…

Great things will happen.

Trying to optimize everything you do is a waste…

I get that SEO has a place but for the majority of small business people it should be incidental SEO.

Just my thoughts…

As always thanks dude.

Ryan H.

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Rebecca Livermore March 23, 2012 at 10:25 am

Ryan, your sentence, “I get that SEO has a place but for the majority of small business people it should be incidental SEO” pretty well sums it up. I think if we’re doing the right thing overall, meaning consistently producing quality content, to some degree SEO takes care of itself.

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Ryan Hanley March 23, 2012 at 10:40 am

Amen Rebecca… Amen!

“Stop the SEO Madness!”

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Cheryl Pickett March 23, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Coming from a background as a freelance writer/author, SEO has been one of the things that drives me a bit crazy about trying to market a small biz, a book, etc. online. Writing for people, that I can do!

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Hahaha, yep, this should be right up your alley Cheryl, and it’s about time that folks with your writing skills got the benefit of the doubt from Big G. ;-)

Marcus

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 6:16 pm

It’s crazy how you and I think so very much alike when it comes to content marketing Ryan.

But I think “being in the grind” has certainly shaped that for us.

Thanks for all your support man.

Marcus

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Eugene March 23, 2012 at 10:22 am

I don’t think you can expect Google to ever ignore optimization, they have to rank the sites somehow.

I can definitely see them putting less weight on the number of backlinks to a page…but can they really ever fully get away from that? I doubt it.

On-page SEO is still the bulk of the process if you want to rank well in my opinion. And the pros will still probably do that better than the moms and pops out there – although WordPress and a few plugins definitely make that easier. I have a niche site with an on-page SEO plugin that has helped me rank on the first page, or even in the top few spots, within a few days for my target keywords.

I like to boil it down to one sentence: “Write for humans, edit for Google.”

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 6:14 pm

LOVE that last sentence Eugene. Really, sound advice man.

Hope you’re well brother!

Marcus

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Rich McElaney March 23, 2012 at 11:07 am

Marcus,

This reminded me of the checklist that Google published on their Google Webmaster Central blog that lays out the exact pathway businesses can take to get traffic. (http://bit.ly/k2uUZX) Two of the many points made in the Google post sum it all up for me: Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site and does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results? While there are many other points to consider in optimizing a page or an entire site, if you just use these two as your guide you don’t have to worry about playing games.

Keep the great topics and genuine value coming man!

Rich

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Rich, GREAT reference my man. It’s all about the readers, ya know. If we keep them as our focus, we’ll be just fine.

Have a great weekend brother, and see you soon.

Marcus

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Matthew Stock March 23, 2012 at 11:19 am

Another great one Marcus. No shout-out for the inspiration of this article? Weak sauce! Just kidding man. I forwarded your blog to our entire office and sales staff to see how one guy in our customer service department helped to provide inspiration for this great blog (our CSR forwarded me a link which I forwarded to Marcus for his take).

For those new to the community and / or those with a bad memory like me, Marcus came to our offices last month for an Inbound Marketing Summit. We are already seeing an uptick in traffic and more importantly sales. Don’t get me wrong, Marcus’ blogs are cutting edge and highly educational.

I’m sure hoping in the next couple years Google banishes the SEO hacks and reward the real educators and thought leaders out there. Or I want a refund Marcus ;)

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Hey man, my bad on the inspiration part—Yep, I owe you. What’s funny is that the morning this post came out someone else sent me the article as well—apparently my readers know this is stuff I spend way too much time thinking about. ;-)

And hopefully no refunds will be necessary my man. ;-)

Marcus

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barbara March 23, 2012 at 11:58 am

You crack me up Marcus. If all the ‘guru’s’ out there were half as real as you are we’d all be super bloggers by now. Not that we aren’t… just sayin’.
b

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Hahahaha Barbara, thanks for the big smile you gave me with that one. ;-)

Have a great weekend,

Marcus

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Tom Treanor March 23, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Marcus,

I totally agree with where you’re going with this post. Write great content and stop trying to game and pay for rank because “easy come, easy go”!

As far as Google being able to read a page like a human I’m a skeptic. Just like everything else, they’re imperfect and their algorithm (I believe) can only take them so far. In some areas (certain industries) they have too much data and there will always be trade-offs to be made to determine ranking so there could be several ways they could tune the algorithm and get decent results. But never “perfect”.

In other areas (e.g. local), they are starved for information for some searches. One of my clients started ranking and getting traffic for one word that was in a caption of a picture for their tae kwon do studio. Of course I picked up on that and better optimized the page for that term and that became a steady source of leads.

So local or niche clearly have the most to gain from great content that purposefully or “accidentally” helps them get found, convey authority and get leads.

Awesome post!

Tom

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Tom, what’s up bud? Thanks for adding your thoughts here man.

I know that it’s tough to imagine Google having the ability to think and judge content like a “human”, but with the rate of tech and digital advancements, at this point I believe just about anything is possible.

Plus, didn’t you see “The Terminator”? ;-)

Marcus

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Eric Pratum March 23, 2012 at 1:01 pm

One problem with BMR at the moment is that someone could point it at your site and get you slapped by Google just so that they could outrank you. I’ve recently about people doing that successfully. This is one thing that concerns me about websites being punished for offsite tactics that may or may not have been done maliciously by a competitor.

Another thing that’s concerning is that Google might overstep and decide that a website is over-optimized when it is really just “perfectly” optimized. A site that has a great backlink profile, perfect code, superior user flow, and spectacular content could unfortunately get labeled as being over-optimized when, in reality, it’s just run by some great marketers that know how to produce great content in a great package.

That all being said, most of us will likely never have to deal with the problem of our websites being too well optimized, so I’m happy to say that, like you point out, writing for humans and packaging it in a good presentation is really what you should focus on. If you’re not knocking that out of the park, don’t even bother thinking about SEO as a stand alone approach to improving your website.

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Eric, great hearing from you bud as I always enjoy your take on anything down this SEO alley.

You bring up a very interesting take with respect to people using “bad sites” as an attack on their competitors. I can see this a movement that will grow in the future…kind of like internet mercenaries whose job is to make sites look bad in the eyes of Big G…..Hmmm, should be an interesting thing to keep an eye on.

Again, appreciate you stopping by my man.

Marcus

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Matt Heinricy March 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Good stuff, thanks again Marcus! As a mom and pop Realtor, I find it extremely difficult to compete for SEO not only with the large brokerages in my area but especially with the national companies (Zillow and Trulia) who post dozens of times per day with general (and uninteresting content). Hopefully, these adjustments will give us little guys a fighting chance!

-Matt

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Hey Matt, great to see you stop by.

I can certainly relate to what you’re talking about. You get huge companies that are curating content from a bunch of sources, much of which stinks, but they get the reward from the search engines.

Hopefully, this is something we’ll see much less of.

Thanks again Matt,

Marcus

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Jim Jenks March 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm

I’m in SEO and I actually look at this as a positive thing as well. At first I was like “What?” but this will make search a lot better and penalize those with black hat strategies.

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm

I’m with you Jim. The more Google cares about “quality”, the better off we’ll all be (at least those) that are really most concerned about value.

Thanks for dropping by Jim,

Marcus

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Amber Avines March 23, 2012 at 2:23 pm

This is refreshing stuff to read, Marcus.

As a longtime communications professional, my biggest obstacle when dealing with clients (internal or external) is getting them to speak like real people. No jargon, no buzzwords, no Frankenspeak. Just talk like you were explaining things to your mom.

It’s good to know that others are starting to realize the value of being human in their communications.

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Hey Amber! You know, with a blog titled “Words done write”, I’d expect nothing less. ;-)

Great seeing you lady and hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Marcus

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Jack@TheJackB March 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm

I don’t believe Google will ever be human. There are some things like nuance that you just can’t teach a machine.

SEO won’t ever die but it shouldn’t be the primary focus either. I agree with Amber that it is gobbledy-gook that just sucks the life out of writing.

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Yes, but haven’t you seen the Matrix Jack?? ;-)

Good seeing you bud,

Marcus

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Brent Carnduff March 23, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Hi all, some great discussion here.

Marcus – I am glad that you added the “SEO has its place” paragraph. I am a big believer in, and fan of content marketing. However, I do want to clarify that SEO is not synonymous with “gaming” the system – it does not have to mean keyword stuffing, link farms, etc. SEO when done correctly, helps the website owner know what his/her client is looking for, helps the search engine’s find that content, and helps that content get into the hands of your potential customers.

True SEO works hand in hand with great content marketing. It is especially effective in helping small businesses get found locally, or for businesses to compete in highly competitive markets. The more content you produce, the greater the chance you have of being found, but I don’t know why you would leave it to chance. SEO just helps target that great content to get it to the right people.

It also is something that continues to produce greater benefits over time. I have worked with numerous small businesses, and all have noticed results after SEO.

As for the future of search? Content will continue to play a huge roll, as will social media – G+ is becoming more of a factor in search.

Just as an aside, I’ve recently noticed companies selling +1′s (“liking” on google plus) – there will always be people trying to game the system, however I don’t think many of them will out smart the engineers at Google in the long run.

Another great article my friend.
Brent

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Brent, a ton of wisdom here in this content my man. This is why I love my readers—they’re smart. :-)

Yes, SEO, when done right and not abused, is very important. Google and the search engines honestly do, in my opinion, want to give the most relevant results to keep searchers happy. Great SEO does just that.

Keep up the great work on your end Brent. I can tell you really know how to help your clients.

Marcus

PS: Can you give me a link to the “G+ selling” you were referring to?

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Jens P. Berget March 24, 2012 at 3:27 am

Hey Marcus,

I’ve read about the statement from Matt Cutts, and I’m so glad that this is happening. Too many businesses rely on SEO alone, and are not focusing on high quality content. The content should be the focus all the time, and relevant, high quality content is what we should find at the top of Google and nothing else.

I’m not sure if Google can ever think like a person. People are too complex. But they sure have enough data :)

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Hey Jens, great to hear from you bud and I’m so glad you found a little value here. Yeah, time will only tell with Google, but I wouldn’t put it by them. ;-)

Have a great weekend bud,

Marcus

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Avatar March 24, 2012 at 7:30 am

I think someday the genii will be borne and develop the tools that help the google to become a human and vanquished the evils and protect/reward the righteous one. The good is always winner whether in this life or in the next.

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David Chism March 24, 2012 at 9:19 am

Good article, Marcus. I am 100% pro Mom and Pop businesses. Many of my clients are just that! Keep it real. Now the question arises…how to connect with folks on Bing and Yahoo? Bing is confusing because it used to be MSN, which was primarily a women-preferred audience. It is still a powerful search engine, but trying to show up is very difficult. Heard anything about content marketing to the non Google search engines? It is still 30-33% of all searches.

Heard you talked to my buddy Tom Reber the other day. I just saw him in St. Louis this week and said what a great conversation he had with you. Thanks for taking the time. He will be an incredible motivator!

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Hey David! Yes, I talked with Tom, and it was very enjoyable because I felt like I could relate to him so much.

As for Bing and Yahoo, you’ve got me thinking. HOnestly, I think they stink as search engines because they don’t respect content marketing nearly as much, and it really bugs me.

Have a great one my friend and keep up the good work!

Marcus

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Carrie Reynolds March 24, 2012 at 11:10 am

Marcus,
As always, thank you for your plainspoken, common sense approach to the digital world. You are a shining example of how small business can truly succeed online. And you hit the nail on the head with one line- “At the core, we should write content as if we’re talking to a friend sitting next to us in a coffee shop”. That’s me. That’s how I write. Conversational. Real. Because it’s all about people. And people have emotion, likes & dislikes.

And once the reader sees you as a person it’s much easier to engage with them. And makes it so much more fun adn rewarding:) Keep spreading your message and I’ll gladly keep reading.

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Oh Carrie, you really make me smile…and I can tell by the way you write your comments that you really are that person sitting next to me in the coffee shop.

Thanks so very much :-)

Marcus

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Heather March 24, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Great post, Marcus! And I am SO glad to hear that Google is working to return “human” results. I’m a small business owner, and SEO is just now starting to really catch on amongst our competitors. We have one in particular who is actually “spinning” our content and reposting it on her site. I thought about saying something, but honestly, it sounds so “non-human” that it makes her look like an idiot, so I’m hoping karma (or Google?) will catch up with her in the end. Still, it’s disconcerting to see her ranking #2 below us in SERPs. :(

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Heather, Heather, Heather—boy can I relate to what you’re saying here. I’ve been dealing with the copycats for 3 years now. And to be honest, you’ll only see it more and more.

But it sounds like you’re kicking butt and the leader of the content pack in your industry :)

Best,

Marcus

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Craig S. Kiessling March 24, 2012 at 12:11 pm

SEO will never go away and will always be here, as people will always have to “look, find and search” for things. Spammy & Scammy SEO does not equate to SEO at all, but rather to unethical and rather unknowledgeable wanna-bes trying to “game the system”.

It is these types of people that Google are trying to deal with – not ethical White Hat folks nor SEO.

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Andrea Hypno March 24, 2012 at 2:05 pm

So this means we’ll begin to see again real, unbiased, non promoted organic results on Google? That would be great, but I don’t think they’re going to risk a penny on AdWords so this is probably just a PR move or a ready-to-have good excuse when slashing at their will a website as they can always say that it was overly optimized or overly promoted, or that it followed their own advices and had too many ads above the fold. Seems there is problem with different personalities: Seo-no Seo, keywords-no keywords, meta tags-no meta tags, and so on. Probably it depends if they jump out of bed in the morning with their left or right foot. Or from the Moon maybe. Or solar spots influence.

As regards real organic results it seems that Bing is better than Google but it might be just a urban online legend. And, if Big G. loses its battle with Facebook plus Bing a couple of years from now we’ll never hear about G anymore, just like no one talks anymore about Yahoo or MySpace.

As you always say Marcus content marketing is the key to online success but only if the search engines are ethical and don’t have any interest in giving a result instead of another; this is the only way to have a fair game and fair competition. How many search engines don’t have this kind of interest?

In this perspective probably GigaBlast which is linked to Dmoz is the best choice but not anyone knows about it and uses it.

Imho social media or the plus thing should not enter at all into the search engine results because this, at least for what regards reliable informations, has nothing to do with giving the best result for a search. Example: if every Justin Bieber fan plus, like or whatever the “Little Encyclopaedia of Little Green Men from Mars” as the best place to find informations they could throw Wikipedia or Encyclopaedia Britannica out of the first page on search engines. Are we sure this is the future we want when searching for reliable infromations or advices?

So, Seo is still imprtant and it will remain that way, people to rank well will have just to discover what Google wants to push in the future and behave accordingly. Isn’t this what we had to do until now?

Have a great weekend to everyone! :)

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 2:53 pm

“Or solar spots influence”….epic line of the week award Andrea! ;)

I’m really digging your points about social media’s effect on SEO man. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about myself, and does bother me. I see it too much as “the rich get richer” because so many of the established folks are going to get liked and tweeted no matter how good their stuff is. But for the rookie who is just getting in the game but producing killer content— that person will never get the SM love at first like the big-boyz….Alas….

I don’t have a solution but I’ll freely admit I think integrating social into search gives me major cause for concern.

Great stuff Andrea…I think I’m going to write about this soon.

Marcus

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Andrea Hypno March 25, 2012 at 12:29 am

Thanks, also for the week award, I’ve finally got it! :)

I agree 100 percent with your point. The social media thing for now is bringing money to those who got it, Twitter, Facebook and Google owners and if it will ever happen that Facebook will give a share of its ads earning to users they’ll throw Google out of business in a couple of months, the real reason begind G+ probably. But big players will always have the best place also because they usually have the money not only for paying ads but for staff so a one man business finds it difficult to get a place in the Sun. Who can pay thousands bucks to a celebrity to direct likes and traffic? Integrating social media with searches imho will just manipulate more search results.

If giving an organic answer directs visits to quality instead of money paying businesses they’ll manipulate results in a way or another to go to the money. Which is understandable given that we’re talking about business, but it has nothing to do with quality.

Not that we can influence the big players but search engines should aim for reliable unbiased results. Social media already has its influence in driving traffic, at least in theory, so it can go on its own. Mixing things will just fill the web with more crap, but it will be very popular liked and shared and tweeted crap.

It might be that I’m too much on the cospirative side but I think the final goal of all this new wave in searches is not to provide a better product but to be able to manipulate better the results and drive traffic where they want to because they reap the bigger benefits. At the end they aim toward they own business and not ours.

Also this social search thing is just a move of Big G as it’s losing its place in favour of Facebook+Bing and it just can’t stand that someone else rules the web. The web is G’s garden and belongs to no one else. It’s not that it’s trying to provide a better product, it’s just trying to avoid being destroyed by competitors that in this case it can’t buy and close. G is feeling the Yahoo wrath. Like you reap what you’ve sawn.

Survival is the real reason behind search plus; and the fact that Facebook is immensely better at profiling users and already has an amount of data,with a commercial value, much bigger than Google. They are just fighting to see who will have the “right” to sell who we are and what we do on the net to the highest bidder. The rest are just words. Imho.

Or we can always all go with the viral video thing and hope for the best. :)

Happy Sunday!

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Brian March 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Hi Marcus,

Good article. I have to say as a small business owner (furniture business) the SEO stuff is very confusing. Do I hire someone to do SEO? or should I instead pay for PPC, or both. With limited budget and time, I would like to understand where to focus my efforts. Maybe that could be a subject of another blog. Top 3 areas to focus your marketing efforts and $$ if you are a small business.

Thanks, Brian

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Marcus Sheridan March 24, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Brian, I’m really glad you’ve asked this question. The problem is though, the answer is “it depends”.

Notwithstanding, I do believe that if you can do PPC in a trackable way and as a bridge to get you where you need to be, then great. You very well may have to experiment with this to find out.

I would suggest that you do have at least some focus on SEO. You ABSOLUTELY must be on Google maps/local. You should also consider, as I mentioned, PPC.

But I love the idea about writing a post regarding this subject and so that just may be a post for next week Brian…Thank you!

Marcus

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Ameena Falchetto March 25, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Wise words Marcus!!!

I have to add that it comes down to what kind of business you are running. If you are boutique or a small business who relies on intimate connections with small groups of people writing for humans is at the core of your blogging efforts – Not all traffic is created equal.

Personally, I do tweak some aspects of my writing to be google friendly but that is AFTER I have written for humans.

SEO tricks are one thing but often I see it happening to the detriment of the content – having something SEOd to the max without valuable content is like smacking a ferrari engine on a pushbike!

Wow I agreed with you again.

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Naveen Kulkarni March 26, 2012 at 1:29 am

Great article Marcus,
I remember, in one of the videos I watched in Google resource pages, they said they want to answer query with an exact answer that user was looking for. They want to improvize thier engine by including human soul in it. I am sure Google is working on it and that’s why it’s asking publishers all over the world to produce great content.

Again, it’s a fine balance of great content and keywords that makes life of a blogger wonderful :-)

Thanks for this post Marcus.

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Aliosha Kasin March 26, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Very true, But making a site that has useful and interesting content should always be the foundation of any site/blog. This was the case 10 years ago and should still be the case today. It’s incredible how interconnected the internet is. I believe Google will start placing even more emphasis on social share to predict the relevance of a site rather than just counting links and establishing authority. SEOmoz did a test last year which revealed that sites that get the most Facebook shares actually rank above others. Very interesting post Marcus.

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Marcus Sheridan March 28, 2012 at 10:51 am

Hey Aliosha, glad you liked the post and yes, content, I believe, will always be the foundation. As for social, it’s going to change and change and change and….

Thanks for stopping by!

Marcus

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paul wolfe March 26, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Hey Bro

I see this in video marketing too. A recent ‘goo-roo’ report was touting about buying links and social media likes and such on Fiverrr.

Well Youtube is owned by Google – so the same thinking will apply over there too. I get around 100,000 video views every month on the ‘Toob (and about 20,000 on other aggregators). You know how many backlinks to videos I’ve ever built – about 10.

If you can create compelling content then spend your time doing that instead of tinkering with back links. If you can’t create compelling content….then learn how to do it! That’s the kind of business advantage that will pay off in spades over the years.

Back links and gaming the system – forget it. Waste of time and effort.

Paul

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Sarah Kolb March 27, 2012 at 6:12 pm

I couldn’t be happier to hear this! I’m an editor first and a writer second, and I cringe every time I have to sacrifice a good, sensible English sentence for bastardized SEO-language. It happens far to often for me to be comfortable with it, and I’m so glad the emphasis is shifting back to the normal-people side of the equation.

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Tom Ewer March 29, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Hey Marcus,

My two cents…

In my opinion, Google isn’t as sophisticated as you (or many others) make it out to be. You only have to look at SEOmoz (arguably the most respected SEO blog in the world) to see that – there was an article on there recently bemoaning the fact that “black hat” SEO is still highly effective.

Sure – Google is constantly working to improve its algorithms and prevent the effectiveness of black hat SEO tactics, but people will move on and find different ways to game the system. So long as (1) black hat SEO is easier to implement than white hat SEO and (2) producing the “best” content (which will forever be subjective anyway) does not get you ranked #1 in Google, there will be people trying to game the system. And with good cause – we are all in business at the end of the day, and the higher we are in Google, the more money we make.

This is all coming from someone who loves the idea of offering up quality content. But quality content alone does not cut the mustard – it can bring you in *enough* traffic (depending upon your goals), but shady SEO practices can get you further.

Such is the state of SEO.

Cheers,

Tom

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Marcus Sheridan March 30, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Hey Tom, good to see you bud. I’m not going to say I disagree, because it’s more an issue of industry when it comes to the good content vs SEO hackery debate.

But when I say Google is going to be human-like, I truly do mean that and if we look at the development of machines and tech, it only makes sense…at least to me. ;-)

Have a great weekend my man, keep up the great work on your end.

Marcus

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Spatch Merlin March 30, 2012 at 5:55 am

SEO is great in helping search engines locate your site if a relevant search is made. However, I totally agree with Google about making the posts not just all about KWs. A good quality post is very much important in almost every aspect of the business.

Spatch Merlin
More Web Site Traffic Guide

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David @ SEO California March 31, 2012 at 3:08 am

I totally agree with you. Definitely content marketing overtake SEO because Google timely change their panda algorithms that totally effect on content. If you are not use fresh and qualitative content with your blog or websites it will definitely affected by Google panelizing system. So really it’s create big challenge for SEO. Hope you sharing this type of information with us in future.

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Jeff April 27, 2012 at 4:04 pm

But guys – for everyone that says they “don’t get” or don’t see the value in SEO, don’t forget that no matter how great (and how much) content you produce…before someone can like your content they have to FIND YOU!

Today, 80% + of that searching still goes on through Google Search, until that changes, you must at least pay attention to how they rank content.

Part of SEO is knowing the language your readers use to find the content they are looking for online.

For example, you may be a diet expert and write loads of great content around weight loss, but your ideal prospect thinks of their problem as being “belly fat” and so that’s what they type into the search engine.

So, you have great content, Google likes you and ranks you well for the keyword “Weight Loss”, but your reader will never find you because they will type in “how to lose belly fat”.

To me, you MUST marry your great content with the language that your readers are using to perform their searches…at least as long as Google search is still the primary way of finding content on the net.

Perhaps in a couple of years it will be more to do with social networks…and yes that is already happening, but search still plays the primary role in finding content.

The question is…do you want to be found or not.

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2012 at 8:35 am

Great words of advice Jeff, and I appreciate you stop

Marcus

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