Today, I saw a quote from marketoonist Tom Fishburne that said:
“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.”
There’s so much wisdom packed in that tiny statement, and this is ever-true for SEO.
- Marketing that feels like marketing means something’s wrong.
- Marketing must focus on the client, not the product or service.
- It shouldn’t feel like marketing to both the marketer and the marketed.
- Marketing is more like a collaboration, a partnership, a relationship.
- Applying good marketing to the wrong market makes it bad marketing.
- Selling as a result of good marketing doesn’t feel like selling, either.
- The best marketer is less of a marketer and more of an advisor.
- Marketing should deliver as much value as the product or service.
- The best marketing is not tactical or strategic, but mission-driven.
I could go on and on.
I also love that statement because I believe that it applies to all things marketing. For example, you could say “the best selling doesn’t feel like selling,” or “the best advertising doesn’t feel like advertising.”
To me, my favourite is:
“The best SEO doesn’t feel like SEO.”
For some SEO experts, search engine optimization is a bunch of manipulative hacks and esoteric backdoor tactics, even if they’re “legal” (a.k.a., white hat). They are no different than athletes trying to gain an unfair edge over the competition with the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
For others, SEO is more of an adversarial, military-like strategy against the tyrannical search engines with counterattack measures applied with each algorithm update.
Both are not the best SEO.
Today, with multiple algorithm changes occurring daily, it’s no longer easy to manipulate or game Google. Possible, yes. But not easy. It was never meant to be easy in the first place.
Google’s constant updates are meant to thwart seeming subversive attempts to rank highly on search engine results pages without earning the right to do so.
There is an inordinate number of tutorials on how to use these legitimate and widely accepted tactics that every SEO expert and their pet lizard uses.
But they’re always short-lived. Always.
It’s a constant game of catchup. The moment you apply one tactic, another update comes along and tanks your rankings — or allows a legitimate competitor’s rankings to crush yours.
Google wants to give its users the best search experience possible. That’s their job. They want to offer the best possible results to a user’s query by offering them the most relevant, helpful, and meaningful links. Period.
Therefore, it will rank highest those pages that match the user’s query as closely as possible. If you work hard to bypass that process, Google will eventually catch on.
Why does the best SEO not feel like SEO, then? Because it occurs naturally, organically, and relatively effortlessly (i.e., it doesn’t feel like a constant cat-and-mouse game), and gives Google — and in turn, its users — with the most helpful and relevant content that matches their search as closely as possible.
In fact, Google itself teaches us exactly what they are looking for with SEO.
It all boils down to two key factors:
- The quality of the content.
- The quality of the experience.
It’s as simple as that.
No backdoor tactics or coding backflips necessary.
Essentially, post good, high-quality content that users want and are looking for, and make that content as easy to find and consume as possible.
The only aspects of your website, both technical or non-technical, that need to be search-engine optimized are those that optimize those two key factors above. Sure, there are levels of complexity and granularity.
But you don’t have to complicate things.
Create good content that users want. It’s self-explanatory. Knowing what your users want may be the only heavy lifting you need to do. This requires some keyword research, if you have done any already.
Also, there’s a debate about what constitutes good content, what the parameters are, what length is best, etc, but even Google said it doesn’t matter. As long as it’s relevant, helpful, and meaningful.
Create good user experience that makes it easy for users to consume your content. It’s just a few things. Make sure your site and content are:
- Easy to navigate,
- Easy to find,
- Easy to read,
- And secure.
I explain it a bit more here.
That’s it. Focus on those two things and you’re golden.
The best SEO doesn’t feel like SEO because you focus on your users, not Google.