Every now and again, someone comes up with a brilliant analysis of why SEO is dead. I’m happy to report that the reports of SEO’s death are greatly exaggerated.
Instead, it’s SEO’s sleazy cousin who’s passed away.
That’s the kind of SEO that used to work — it doesn’t any longer. It involved stuffing a page with the same keyword, over and over and over and over and. . .
It was really bad for readers, and it was an excuse for boring, shallow content.
Know what’s most important to SEO today?
Brilliant content.Write the best content for humans to read - it will also be best for SEO.Click To Tweet
Because Google and other search engines have gotten so much better at natural language, you can write the best content for humans to read, secure in the knowledge that it will also be the best for SEO.
As Sonia Simone wrote:
The wisest practice of SEO is to get out of dualistic thinking about SEO. It’s not separate or distinct from your daily business — it’s a facet of what you already do.
Brian Clark explained it this way, after suggesting we imagine a world without search engines:
In a world with search engines, you get a glimpse directly into the mind of your prospect, based on the language they use when seeking a solution to a problem or looking for the answer to a question.
So don’t worry about how many times your exact keyword or keyphrase appears in your article, and for goodness sake don’t employ any old-school black-hat SEO techniques. (If you don’t know what those are — good! Let’s leave it that way.)
Instead, focus on creating the best content you can create to provide the answers to questions your readers are searching for.
Keyword Research Combined with Natural Writing are the New SEO
Now, that’s not to say that keyword research is no longer important, because it is. (In fact, helping with keyword research is one of the best reasons to use the SBI! for WP plugin.) Or, you can consult articles like this one for tips and techniques on performing solid research on keywords.
Once you’ve got your keyword or keyphrase, what then?
Write the best, most valuable piece of content you can. Focus on the keyword, but write naturally, for humans. Don’t worry about how many times your keyword appears in the content.
How to Benefit from the New SEO
First off, stop thinking of SEO as a series of tricks.
No, you don’t have to use a keyword X number of times in an article. You don’t have to slavishly repeat the exact keyword, with no variations, throughout your article. There’s no magic formula — those are just tricks.
Instead, ask yourself some questions:
- Does this page/post/article deliver a valuable experience to the reader?
- Is it written in clear, natural language that will appeal to readers?
- Does it express a complete concept?
Stephan Spencer points out, in an article titled SEO is not Dead, It’s Just a Shape-Shifter:
With semantic search, Google can understand what an article is about. We see evidence of this when articles rank for keywords that are not found anywhere in the article (or in anchor text pointing to the article). One simple example of this is the search for “internet marketing,” which returns Quick Sprout’s guide to online marketing in the number one position. The word “internet” is not found anywhere in the guide.
So if I write an article about WordPress plugins, Google likely understands that my entire site is about WordPress and will rank that page appropriately, even if I don’t use the word “WordPress” at all.
Once you’re confident that you’re providing good value to your readers, that your writing is clear and easily readable by human beings, and that you’ve covered your topic, take a look at the details — but don’t obsess.
Yoast SEO is a plugin that will help with this phase of SEO. We’ll take a good look at it in another article.