Are Marketers Overlooking the Most Important SEO Strategy?

Search optimization will always occupy a somewhat ironic place in my mind.

That’s because, as one of the more important parts of a successful online marketing campaign, I’m forced to spend a lot of time thinking, speaking, and writing about it. On the other hand, SEO (and especially Google’s algorithm) is so over-analyzed that many marketers commonly overlook the quality for the keywords.

They pay so much attention to tactics and short-term strategies that they can’t see that things like quality and timing matter a great deal more than the specific title length or where to put a keyword. When focusing on the technical details, communication commonly suffers.

If you’re doing it right, it’s going to take time, a lot of vision, and even a healthy dose of creativity. It’s also more about seeing potential where it exists than it is unlocking some secret code or creating links.

In order to help you understand why that is – and more importantly, to use this insight to your advantage – here are a handful of SEO tips you can put to use in the today’s SEO environment:

1. Your first SEO priority.

Take steps to ensure that your website is as “clean” as possible. Having the remnants of a bad SEO past in your website is the Internet equivalent of having a prison record or bad credit; you have to lose those associations before you can look ahead to better things. Look for external spammy links, duplicate content and internal broken links. Use online tools to check for broken links, Google Webmaster Tools/Analytics for spam and your eyes for duplicate content.

2. Take a long view around content.

Content needs to be targeted, interesting, unique, current, and search-optimized. More importantly, it has to be those things roughly in that order. Worrying about keywords, tags, and other details shouldn’t be your biggest focus. Instead, you should be worried about generating quality content pieces that bring readers and prospects back again and again. Take the long view and worry about your customers first, because doing so will eventually pay off.

3. Know the new number-one ranking factor.

Whereas strict keyword matching and link placement used to be the top factors for your search engine positioning, user experience and engagement now matter more than ever. In other words, Google and the other search engines can usually figure out what your website’s about; what they really want to know is whether visitors who come to your site stick around and share your content.

4. Remember that all good content creation is SEO.

Improving your search engine position isn’t just about adding new pages to your website and composing blog posts. Everything you put online, including things like social media content and customer reviews, can now be indexed and help your search position. That means good marketing is good SEO and vice versa, so don’t develop tunnel vision when you’re exploring new ways to get the word out.

As the search optimization and marketing industry has grown, so have the number of technical tools, apps, and analytics you can use to measure your site’s findability. As interesting, convenient, and helpful as any of them might be, remember that they are little more than the gauges in your car. That is, they’re great indicators of the current condition of your car, but none of them will make you an especially good driver.

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