SEO used to mean peppering your website copy with keywords you thought your target audience was searching. The more you mentioned the keywords, the higher you ranked in the Google rankings. Website copy was frequently “dumbed down” to repetitive sentences full of nonsense of very little interest. Then came the concept of “content is king.” Google started to analyze content on websites and penalize sites that overused the keywords or sounded similar to another website. Many marketers claimed content had to include a minimum word count, regardless of the quality, and include images. Today, experts say search engines are looking for pages that have upwards of 300 words or more and offer tips, relevant bullet lists or something of value to the reader. And as usual, Google appears to be leading the charge for more and more highly relevant content. But are marketers changing what would be considered sound strategies to heed the call of Google? Are we slaves to how Google says we should market products?
Savvy marketers will tell you that sustained positioning in the marketplace does not result from changing your strategy to follow the trends. And it certainly doesn’t result from chasing Google’s algorithm. (Especially true in that Google keeps its algorithm and website ranking factors top secret.) It’s a result of combining smart marketing strategies that reach your target audience – whether that’s being first in the search engine list or generating hits on your website through a message targeted directly to your market. Your key messages and branding image will shine through in everything you do, if you keep your target demographics in mind. Communicating with them in their language, in their media, is crucial to your success. Robust content and engaging images are what keep people coming back to your site, not a robot reading through and counting key words.
Consider, for example, the Apple website. There are plenty of pages on that website with less than 300 words, and no bullet lists. The Apple website, one could argue, has plenty of pages that are not specifically optimized for Google or any other search engine. Yet the site ranks highly for lots of keywords. This proves it is possible to rank well and get web traffic through Google without necessarily bowing to what many SEO companies will tout as the “only ways” to get Google rankings – or perhaps even without strictly following Google’s webmaster guidelines verbatim. In this case, the most likely reasons for the great Google rankings are that the content is definitely relevant and kept up-to-date, and the brand is advertised on TV and through product placement in movies and TV shows, which drives a lot of direct traffic to the site (which is then rewarded by Google).
It is our position that offering your business prospects and customers strong, well-written, relevant content at any length, and marketing it strategically both online and off-line in ways that will reach your target market, is the best way to gain more business through your website. Being a slave to Google and its ever-changing algorithm will only make you lose the true focus of your business, and that’s your own customers.