Look. SEO is important. It’s incredibly important. But it’s not a “cheat code” that you can use to bypass actually producing good content. In fact, now more than ever, high quality content is one of the most important elements of modern Search Engine Optimization. Why? I’m glad you asked, hypothetical blog reader:

User Experience Is Now Part Of Search Algorithms

Google’s Panda algorithm changed a lot of things, but one of its biggest changes was the introduction of website quality assessment. Google doesn’t just care about keywords and linkbacks anymore – they want to know what kind of a user experience your website provides. They want to know how much time users are spending on your page. They want to know if users are “pogo-sticking” away from results.  They’re looking for load speed, device rendering, mobile friendliness. And though they deny it, they’re looking for social signals – posts on social media where a user describes their experience with your website. If the user had a good experience, it will raise your domain authority and page authority. If not? The opposite.

You might be able to get a small boost in search rankings with traditional SEO, but if that SEO isn’t pointing your users to great content that’s both interesting to read and technologically optimized, that boost isn’t going to help you. Especially since…

Quantity Of Traffic < Quality Of Traffic

SEO agencies have gotten really good at getting lots of people to come to your website. But you don’t want people to come to your website. You want them to click on your ads, buy your product, or sign up for your newsletter. You want them to respond to your call to action. Even if it’s a site purely for written content – a blog or a media site or something similar – you need your customers to engage with your writing and to make repeat visits.

Obviously, SEO is an important part of that. Customers who find your site through organic search have a lower bounce rate, visit more pages, and are more likely to return than customers who find the site through ads or through social media. But if you really want to encourage long-term customer loyalty, the best way to do that is to create content that:

  • Provides a good user experience across all devices
  • Uses visuals well
  • Has high-quality, thorough and detailed writing
  • Answers the real questions posed by search queries

This last point in particular can be difficult. Sure, if you’re just trying to be the top result for the search “Why do muscle cramps happen?”, you know what question you’re looking to answer. But good SEO looks deeper. What question is someone who searches for “muscle cramps” asking? Are they just looking for information or do they need help right now? What about someone who just Googles “SEO”? If your writing can answer these questions, you’ll have customers for life. But keep in mind…

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Most companies on the Internet are obsessed with finding a “magic button” that will let them become successful without hard work. They look at the inexplicable, immediate explosion of the latest viral video or the unprecedented success of a startup like Uber and try to figure out how to replicate it. But there is no easy answer. One size doesn’t fit all. 

Your goal shouldn’t be to try and find a way to appeal to everyone with even a remote interest in whatever your website is about. Your goal should be to provide the best possible content for a very specific group of people. And while links, keywords, natural language processing, and more can help you get those people to your website, high-quality content is what’s going to keep them there. Which is why, more and more, it’s what search algorithms are actually looking for.