Why SEO Still (And Always) Matters

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Why SEO Still (And Always) Matters

Even though blogging is one of the best ways to boost an online reputation and increase market share at the same time, now is an incredibly hard time to be a blogger. There is just too much information out there.

Get this: While 81 percent of consumers trust information they read in blogs, there are some 6.7 million people blogging, according to stats compiled by Social4Retail. Readers want the data, but there’s just too much of it out there. They are simply drowning in content.

So it’s no wonder that people are becoming cynical about the whole business of blogging. Why should they bother reaching out with their words, when chances are (somewhat) good that they’ll never get noticed online?

In the past, I would have countered this cynicism with a primer about SEO. Find great keywords, I’d say, and then your articles will be found by search engines and the people who use them. A boost in rank will quickly follow, and your reputation concerns might fade away.

But in the aftermath of some pretty big Google algorithm changes, including both Panda and Penguin, I’ve seen more than a few articles that suggest SEO keyword techniques are outmoded and/or dead. Little reminders like “Keywords work!” just won’t cut it anymore.

Thankfully, I do have some ammo that suggests that we can, and should, continue to invest in keywords.

Why SEO Still (And Always) Matters

Back From the Dead

The idea that SEO is useless and therefore dead isn’t new. In fact, I found an article on just this topic on Search Engine Journal, and it was published all the way back in 2010.

But the technique persists, as do the claims that it will quickly fade away for good.

Here’s an example. In July, Lunabean Media published a blog post in which the writers suggested winery owners can “stop worrying about SEO.” The idea here is that search engines like Google have become so smart and so adept at delivering good results that there’s no real need to even try to boost your site’s performance. The search engines will find you, because the search engines are good.

In a separate post from The Social Marketers in October, the writers suggest the opposite. Here, they suggest that Google isn’t so much smart as it is self-protective. The changes made are somewhat arbitrary, these writers say, and the ever-shifting rules make it impossible to do well. And responding to those shifts might mean creating content that’s worthless to the end-user, and therefore not good for business.

Now, both of these blog posts do suggest that SEO has a place. But the writers also suggest that keywords shouldn’t be the focus of a writer’s work, and that SEO might not be worth expending a great deal of time on.

Why it Keeps Coming Up

I understand the temptation to urge writers to skip the keyword business. After all, loading up an article with the right keywords can feel a little robotic, and more than a little icky. Writers want to have a unique voice, and they want to use whatever words best express their ideas. Loading up a piece with keywords seems to interfere with that creative process, and it seems to make the whole enterprise mechanical, not personal.

Also, some bloggers approach Google algorithm changes with a sense of powerlessness. These writers want to win, to pop to the top of search engine results, and they don’t like the idea that the owners of the engines can wipe away their wins with a few keystrokes.

So I get it.

But are keywords really the hobgoblins of our work as bloggers? Sure, they’re a main part of doing SEO effectively, but aren’t they also just part of writing well for the electronic age? I think they are, and it seems there are others who agree with me.

Making Keywords Really Work

At the start of an SEO project, bloggers do a bit of digging to determine what keywords readers use in order to find articles on specific topics. (I use the Google AdWords tool, but Wordtracker offers a paid tool that also gets good reviews.) Those searches can take some time, but the payoffs can be huge.

As bloggers on Copyblogger have pointed out, keyword research is essentially market research. The words your searchers type in are the words they use when they want to find something, like a product or a service or a facility. Businesses can use this data to build better items to sell.

Individuals can also use this data to spot reputation problems they weren’t even aware of before. If I was working on solving a reputation management problem involving the term “revenge porn” and I found out that my name was also being attached to the word “fraud,” I’d know I had a bigger problem to solve. And keywords helped me spot it.

Those are big perks, but keywords can do even more. For reputation concerns, we want blogs that persuade and reassure, so that attacks seem to have less merit. This means that the pieces we write must be compelling and honest and true, and they must speak to issues that readers want to read about. B2B marketers want the same thing, so their readers will stick around and make a purchase. Keywords can make that happen.

Bloggers on SEER Interactive have done a great piece on how to pull together a blog that converts, and a big chunk of that piece has to do with keyword research. The experts there use keywords to determine what readers are specifically looking for in articles they read based on one keyword, and those additional keywords help them to deepen and fill out their articles, so they attract attention and keep readers focused.

That’s the kind of research that results in the in-depth, persuasive, compelling blog posts that boost reputations and increase market share. And that work matters. Consider this. A study from the Forrester Business Marketing Association and Online Marketing Institute found that 83 percent of marketers can’t attach a tangible business value to the work they put into online marketing. They know they should do it, but they don’t know how much it’s worth. I would bet the same sorts of stats apply to people who blog personally in response to a reputation attack. They know they should write, but they can’t prove that it works.

Keywords are saviors here, as they do double duty. Articles with good keyword placement can be found by search engines, and keyword research helps writers to craft articles that compel attention and close reading. This is the kind of content that does have value that can be measured by click-throughs, purchases and better online reputation scores.

So is SEO dead? Not by a long shot.

I think we’re just beginning to see the power of keywords properly placed. But, I fully expect that these same articles about SEO’s death will continue to appear online. It’s our job, as marketers, to prove those articles wrong.

And you can help me do it. Do you have a keyword success story to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

 

Image Credits

Featured Image: Rawpixel via Shutterstock
Image #1: Creativa Images via Shutterstock

Jean Dion

Jean Dion

Senior Journalist at InternetReputation.com
Jean Dion is a writer, editor, avid blogger and obsessed pet owner. She's a senior journalist with InternetReputation.com, and writes frequently on the intersection of private indiscretion and public embarrassment. Follow her on Google+ or Twitter.
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  • http://seobasicwithmee.com Deepak

    Nice Article Jean! Actually people love to write about “Seo is Dead” topic because from the long time this kind of topic always attract users to read their content, and as a reader i also read this kind of articles, just to know what new they have.

    • http://www.internetreputation.com Jean Dion

      You’re right. I have no doubt that these kinds of articles will still get published years from now!

  • http://www.bloggingtechniques.com/ Mustafa Gaziani

    Hi Jean,

    SEO is always the necessity to gain more visitors from search engine. Crafting an article is nothing if it doesn’t have done SEO in it.
    Moreover, keywords are what many of newbies can’t focus on. Over optimizing keywords also generate problem for blog owner.
    To have complete SEO knowledge is what anyone needs for.

    -Mustafa

    • http://www.internetreputation.com Jean Dion

      Thanks for the comment!

      • http://zitorealtygroup.com Dan Zito

        God Bless SEO and SEO Professionals.

  • http://workado.com Sandy@Workado

    This was an interesting read. thank you for sharing it. I was up til now unaware of what went into topic selection (and the writing up) of blogs. I read them, find them interesting, and now I know why! And I agree, SEO wont be going away anytime soon.

    Sandy @ WorkadoApp

    • http://www.internetreputation.com Jean Dion

      And thanks for reading!

  • Erwin Winchester

    That’s a quite good answer for those who says SEO is dead.
    Yes its our duty as marketers to prove them wrong.
    Thank you for the wonderful post.

    • http://www.internetreputation.com Jean Dion

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  • http://www.savvysprout.co.za Craig

    With the added complications, improvements and enhancements from search engines I definitely can’t see SEO going anywhere. If anything it will evolve, but disappear? Never!

    • http://www.internetreputation.com Jean Dion

      I like the “evolving” idea. I might have to use that in a future blog post…

  • zeembry

    Keywords like a dreams, SEO like a tool will make the dreams come true. I think if oneday google as smart as a human brain and more faster, SEO still needed. The difference is .. and i hope the future SEO more become simple, not dead.

    • http://www.internetreputation.com Jean Dion

      I’m with you; I wish SEO was easier. But sadly, I think the techniques search engines use will continue to become more and more complex, and that probably means SEO will also become more and more riddled with rules in the future.

  • Nir

    Interesting article!
    Just the other day I’ve heard from a developers company that seo today is all about large amount of links to your site….while this is not bad (considering that those links are from quality sites), my guess that keywords will and for a very long time will be that thing that directs search engines to your post/blog/article/site…so finding good directions to search engines is still important, and as you written it helps you to find out about interests.

    • http://www.internetreputation.com Jean Dion

      Oh, there’s much more to SEO than simple key wording, I agree. But I think keywords will always have a place, too.

  • http://myonlinebusinessempire.co.uk Ish Sarwar

    Hi,

    I agree with you there’s a ton of content out there but it gives people more choice as well.

    I personally use Google Adwords to do keyword research to find what people are searching for and write blog posts on those keywords but I use keywords in the blog posts and focus more on the reader so it appers natural rather than keyword stuffing.

    It looks like SEO is going to be here for a while. I think it works well as long as it’s done properly using white hat techniques.

    Thanks

    • http://www.internetreputation.com Jean Dion

      Natural-sounding writing is vital. Absolutely.

      • jimmy

        A keyword is a label.. how would anyone find anything without a label on it. It’s really that simple why make it sound so complicated?

  • Elite Designz

    Great writeup. A website should always be trying to improve and also have things optimized for SEO. Stop trying and all else will stop with you is my motto! Thanks for the tips and pointers!

    • http://www.internetreputation.com Jean Dion

      I like that motto. Thanks for commenting.

  • @thearklady

    SEO will always remain part of the organic ranking and consumer attraction model but to reduce vulnerability to search engine changes and the head-spinning forward movement in online marketing it is necessary to do more than “just” SEO.

    Today’s marketing needs to integrate a strategy that includes a solid presence, social signals, mobile readiness and reputation to really get it to work.

    • http://www.internetreputation.com Jean Dion

      I think I’d also add authenticity and story-telling to your list.

  • Hassan

    I totally agree with you. SEO is not dead. It’s just that you need to have a proper knowledge about SEO to rank well. I have tried “Just writing Content” method and it never worked out without any SEO. Yes it has become a bit complicated lately but it just can’t be dead! Thanks for the information though!

    • http://www.internetreputation.com Jean Dion

      You’re very welcome!

  • http://www.vrnjackabanjainfo.com Gordan

    Yes, SEO is dead, but.. only and only for those who don’t know how to use, who don’t understand the heart of search engine.

    • http://www.internetreputation.com Jean Dion

      Very nuanced response. Thanks!

  • Asheesh kumar

    Nice article Jean! We are all sick of those arricles telling people.that SEO isdead and all. However there are spammers that encourage people to write articles lile that 🙂

    To be honest I have been delivering goods to my clients over past few years now and even the clients appreciate it because they are getting exactly what they want.

    • http://www.internetreputation.com Jean Dion

      Good for you! Keep up the good work.

  • http://www.preferred-seats.com/ Dale

    “Keywords” and SEO sadly became synonymous with spammy content, therefore they’ve been labeled as something to throw out to fix Panda or Penguin, by some.

    Optimized writing for the reader is what has always mattered, and begins with an outline, not list of SEO Keywords. Add some points with synonyms your readers may use. Write a few paragraphs about each outline point, and you have Reader Optimized Content (ROC). You end up with a list of longtail keywords in your content. Search engines recognize it’s optimal value, and serve it. Therefore ROC=SEO and matters, if you want your content to be served and read.

    • http://www.internetreputation.com Jean Dion

      I see what you’re saying here, and it’s a valid point. Starting with keyword research could tempt writers to pull together stuffed content. But still, I think actual keyword research = market research. I need to know what people are searching for, otherwise my outline contains only my ideas. If I don’t share ideas with others…. well, it won’t go anywhere.