Photo by Ken Teegardin
Photo by Ken Teegardin

By Ashley Martin

SEO (or “Search Engine Optimization”) gets talked about a lot in freelance writing circles. The idea is a simple one–gain attention in search engine results by peppering your content with strategic keywords. For years, it’s been the primary way of obtaining a high ranking in Google search results, guaranteeing notice.

The key word there is “been.”

SEO is dying. In many ways, it’s already dead. Google and other search engine giants appear to be on a quest to stomp it out, and for good reason. When you perform a search, yourself, what do you want? A list of sites that connived their way into top spots in your search results? Or quality content?

Back in 1996, Bill Gates made the now famous proclamation that “content is king.”

“Those who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products–a marketplace of content,” Gates told us. Indeed, there are no shortcuts. No keywords that can, like a magic bullet, make your website successful. Promises of robust, meaningful interaction with online visitors via SEO trickery amount to little more than digital snake oil.

If you want to attract visitors to your website, you have to put top emphasis on quality content.

Ultimately, that’s good news for you and everyone else with an internet connection. The raw power of the web lies in its ability to connect people and ideas. When content wins, we all win.

In marketing your own business, however, you may have to change your approach slightly. If you shelled out big bucks to have a so-called “guru” sprinkle SEO pixie dust all over your website, it’s likely time to revisit your online strategy. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s the value of visiting my business’s website?
  • In addition to a call to action (always a good inclusion), what do I offer with no strings attached?
  • If it weren’t mine, would I point my browser to my own site? Why? Why not?
  • What do my potential customers (my target audience) want/need to know about?
  • What inside information do I have that others would find useful?

Basic information about your business is good, but something visitors can really sink their teeth into is better. That could be an on-going blog chalked full of industry related buzz, or a bit of free information/advice, or even something as simple as entertaining ‘About Us’ page. The medium can be text, images, videos or a combination of all three.

The vehicle doesn’t really matter. The value does.

If you don’t give folks a reason to go to your site, guess what? They aren’t going to. The days when you could hoodwink your way into top search results with meta data are gone, like it or not.

If you don’t already feature some kind of value-based content on your site, get on that.

And if you need help, feel free to contact me. High quality content is what I do.