At the beginning of the pandemic, an executive consulting firm hired me to audit their website and provide recommendations, something typical to request to an SEO consultant.

After following my SEO audit process, I asked my customer to have three different calls, one with someone from their executive team, one with their marketing team, and one with their website development agency. I have to admit that I was impressed with the three teams’ willingness to meet with me.

On the calls, I explained how the content topics, the structure, and the user experience didn’t represent the organization’s vision and offering. Then my contact asks me, “when are we going to talk about SEO?” and I replied, that’s what we just did with the three groups.

The Common Expectation

After my blunt answer, I asked her about her expectations from the audit, and she didn’t have something specific. But in her mind, she was going to face technical jargon, multiple tables, and numbers highlighting the keywords they needed to include and repeat.

In their case, the website development agency had done a decent job on the technical side. Having a good technical foundation provided the marketing team with a clean canvas to explain their offering and their differentiation as a consulting firm.

The Keyword Conversation

It’s common to see SEO identified with keywords and keyword research, to the point that many organizations still measure the success of an SEO program by just measuring the rankings of keywords as a primary metric.

The evolution of search allows websites to become more human in the way they communicate. Not too long ago, it was reasonable to improve rankings by keyword repetition within the content. With the introduction of AI, ML, BERT, and many more acronyms, website owners can express more freely as the analysis of the content extends way beyond the keyword to the user’s intent.

Let’s take this concept out of the digital world. Let’s say that I want to become a better guitar player. Most likely, I’ll start looking for professionals who can teach me better techniques, styles, and compositions. Then I realize that I don’t care much about pop and ballads, in fact, my inclination goes into hard and progressive rock, so I start looking for professionals in this area as they are relevant to what I want. As part of my research, I find out that part of being a good guitarist is finding your sound, so I get lured into checking new equipment.

After all my research is complete, it is time to chose; at this moment, I’ll trust only the ones that can prove that they master hard and progressive rock. As far as equipment goes, I’ll be checking on the equipment used by the best performers of the genre, as they’re the authority and the subject matter experts.

In this example, you can see that I’m going by levels of expertise and the proof that my teacher knows a thing or two about guitar playing. Nowhere in my decision process considered someone who mentioned guitar teacher on every sentence, but with the one that was able to prove it.

So, are keywords important? YES! But to show expertise on the topic. It’s easy to find subject matter experts that can explain a topic in detail without using a unique keyword more than once.

The evolution of search allows websites to become more human in the way they communicate.

The Insane Quest to Beat the Algorithm

We’re in a time where content production and distribution is extreme. It’s logical to want to reach a bigger audience to squeeze every ounce of ROI as possible. Instead of working in the quality of the content, we pay more attention to how to trick the system. I wish this were only the case for Google, but this conversation is happening for the major social networks.

I remember when Instagram announced that they were going to remove the like counter. The main concern was that it was going to be difficult to prove how big of an influencer a person is, while Facebook aimed to get more engaging content and not get likes by the influence of the network.

The best way to get the results that we all want is by master consistency, quality and conciseness. As my good friend and fantastic writer, JC Hutchins, once said to me, “respect your reader’s time.”

My SEO advice, review your website, and be the hardest critic on how you explain and support your expertise. Then, be even more critical to see if you’re providing the right experience to your visitor. For example, are the animations taking attention away from what the user wants to do? Remember, users searching in Google are trying to find solutions quickly.

As reported by the Search Engine Journal, John Mueller from Google recommends investing less time in figuring out how the algorithm works and what the users think.

If you have some ideas, questions, or pure curiosity about SEO and digital strategy, drop me a line, I’ll be happy to have a conversation.

“So that’s something where I wouldn’t worry too much about what Google thinks about quality content. But rather you need to show that you really have something that’s unique and compelling and of high quality.”

John Mueller