Small Business, Google, and SEO: Can We Please Stop the Hand Wringing?

by Ken Mueller on May 18, 2012 · 21 comments

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taj mahal 300x194 Small Business, Google, and SEO: Can We Please Stop the Hand Wringing?You know your world has changed when the latest update to Google’s search algorithm is breaking news on CNN.

Long story short, Google has released Knowledge Graph, the latest step toward it’s long awaited transition to something known as “latent semantic indexing“. The main gist of this change is that the search engine giant is getting smarter, and search engine results and indexing are now less about they key words that Google finds on your site, and more about the actual meaning behind those words; the context in which those words are found. Like every change at Google, the ultimate goal is for us, the end users, to find what we are looking for as quickly and as easily as possible.

And every time there’s a change in the way Google does things, from Panda to Penguin to Knowledge Graph, we wring our hands and worry about what it means to the SEO we’ve done on our sites. Just this morning I got an email newsletter from a marketer weighing in with his take on this. The gist was that while search is now easier, SEO is more difficult. He goes on to talk about using tags from Schema.org (you can read a good primer on Schema by John Trader over on Spin Sucks), and says that even with a computer science degree and years of experience, it took him two days, with the help of a developer, to add just a few tags to his blog. And then he wrings his hands some more, wondering what small businesses will do since they don’t have developers on staff to help them.

Guess what?

It doesn’t matter. At least not for most of us. So stop worrying.

The purpose of all of these changes at Google is to make search more real. Don’t worry so much about the tags and the SEO. Yes, search is changing, and for the better. But it isn’t making SEO harder. What it’s doing is making what we know as traditional SEO harder. In the long run, I believe it is actually making SEO easier. Just not in the way we’re accustomed.

Why?

Because now more than ever, it’s all about the content. It always has been, but seriously, just focus on creating good, relevant content on both your web pages and your blog. Focus on content that is important to your customers and relevant to what you do. All of that content has real SEO value that sticks. You don’t have to constantly tweak your blog posts as algorithms change. Most of you won’t have to hire someone just to do SEO if you’re creating this content. This is why I’m such a big proponent of business blogging. It does so much for you AND takes care of a lot of SEO tasks naturally.

Two people working two days to put tags on one blog post? How much good content could they have written during that time?

Just create great content and let Google do its thing. You might be surprised at the results.

How are you approaching the changes at Google? Do you worry about SEO or are you letting your content take care of that organically?

 

 Small Business, Google, and SEO: Can We Please Stop the Hand Wringing?
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15 comments
share market
share market

Many seo experts believe that the feature is the most significant change for Google since the introduction of the 'Universal Search' in 2007.

John_Trader1
John_Trader1

I'm getting the "don't sweat the small SEO stuff" vibe from this post Ken. Spot on with your recommendation that folks concentrate on quality content and stop the brow furrowing over their ability to not fully comprehend the complexities of Google's SEO jungle. Everyone who comments on the post seems to agree that focusing on content is your ace in the hole, not worrying yourself sick over whether a Meta Tag is properly constructed. In the long run, manufacturing relevant content that resonates is the priority. If you want to be an SEO master, take it one step at a time. It's a lot to swallow!

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

It always pissed me off that SEO was a game that could be gamed by smart people. I always have felt the content should stand on it's own, the google or whatever search site bot should comb the content and use a few other parameters to decide if that page is best returned results.

 

And it also is a shame that when we search for something we often see hundreds of thousands of possible results and we have no clue if number 3 or number 187656 is the best for us but do not have the time to check.

 

So I agree this is a good development and I think it will reward those with great content vs the best SEO gamers.

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

Excellent article Ken!  I spent the last week fielding SEO proposals for a client and one thing is clear: the alarmists have no faith in their own abilities.

Erin F.
Erin F.

I can't remember what SEO book I read, but the author made the point that good SEO writing is good writing. Worry about the writing. If you're writing well - using synonyms and saying things in different ways - the SEO will take care of itself. You always can go back and add keywords if necessary, but write what you have to say first. SEO should be part of the editing process, not part of the writing one.

Latest blog post: Asking for Feedback

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @AmyMccTobin Why can't people just write? The stuff that's in their head...that's what SEO is made of!

Sean McGinnis
Sean McGinnis

 @Erin F. SEO writing IS good writing. Period. Any SEO that suggests otherwise is a dolt. (IMHO)

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @Erin F. Very true. Sadly most of the SEO practitioners I've run into don't work like that. It's all about keywords for them. This is why I stress blogging so much. Over time, it really builds things up for you. 

Erin F.
Erin F.

 @Sean McGinnis You should write about that! Or I'll write about it. Or Ken. Maybe Jason. :) If we all write about it, we can play the innocent card when somebody accuses us of a conspiracy. It would be fun!

Latest blog post: Asking for Feedback

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @Sean McGinnis  @Erin F. agreed. Most SEO folks I run into, who sell their services as such, are more into behind the scene tweaks and structure, and don't even bother with the actual content. Drives. Me. Nuts.  I've watched them ruin some local business websites in the name of higher Google rankings, only to destroy the graphic appeal of a site, and also lower their rankings. 

jasonkonopinski
jasonkonopinski

 @Sean McGinnis Yeah - that's always been my argument against keyword-stuffing. If it's unintelligible, it's counterproductive.  Being mindful of -- but not tied to --- the keywords is a big part of the secret sauce to writing effective copy. 

 

Those 'clients' haven't been in my book of business for over a year, thank God. 

Sean McGinnis
Sean McGinnis

 @jasonkonopinski You have no idea how much that pisses me off.

 

You might recall that from 2006-2009 I was SEO manager at a VERY large web development shop for lawyers. We had thousands and thousands of sites under our care.

 

One of the first things I did when I arrived was put together a working group of SEO experts and writers (we wrote all copy for 95% of our customers). That team's recommendation was that we write naturally, with less repetition of keywords - still writing with keywords in mind, just not what most people would think of as "SEO copywriting".

 

The result?

 

No drop off in traffic from search engines. None.

 

I know because we measured.

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