Just over half a year ago, I published an article titled "Zen And The Art Of Search Engine Optimization" that generated a lot of interest and discussion.
In my own tongue-in-cheek way, I was trying to share my philosophy that search engine optimization is changing all around us, and at a rapid pace. Marketers who want to succeed in the "new age of search" will have to get past the notion that you can climb atop the SERPs by simply relying on keywords and backlinks. Things just don't work that way anymore.
That's because searchers and search engines alike are converting to a new, more holistic approach that emphasizes fresh content, high-quality information from trusted sources, and the combined reputations of an author and website. The resulting approach to attracting visitors is almost Zen-like: Instead of trying to get at them directly through clumsy SEO tactics, you simply produce great content that attracts readers.
In the months that followed, however, we have seen that things are changing even faster than almost any of us would've anticipated. And so, in an effort to share the wisdom gained from meditation (and page after page of analytics), I'd like to share my own personal Tao of Google.
Here are the most important tenets of this enlightened approach to online marketing:
1. Every end comes from a beginning.
Although marketers like to react as if Google's algorithm changes were arbitrary, the truth is they change because they need to. In order for users to get a better search experience, we need to have fewer over-optimized results popping up in each query. That's what drives the philosophical and mathematical changes you are seeing, and that's what will eventually allow the best websites and content creators to rise to the top positions.
2. Each creation is special and unique.
Going forward, the way readers, viewers, and customers react to your content is going to matter just as much as its keyword and link value does. With that in mind, take the time to brainstorm each post or article, and find ways to make your content stand out - both from the competition as well as your other pieces of content. Although you might explore similar themes again and again, you want to give followers a good reason to come back and see what more you have to say.
3. Experience leads to wisdom.
A lot of old-style search engine optimization "consultants" are going to disagree with what I have to say. They still think it's about keywords, links, and on-page optimization. To them I would say: Those details still matter, but become a convert and check out the results for yourself. Our clients are all seeing their traffic improve with each new Google algorithm update... how many traditional SEO firms can make that claim?
4. The virtuous path leads to inner peace.
At some point, you're probably going to be tempted to take shortcuts with search optimization. I would strongly urge you to remain patient and focus on quality content and customer engagement rather than opting for gimmicks. It only takes one misstep to lose Google's trust, or to hurt your own credibility with buyers. And, most technical SEO tricks just aren't that effective anymore anyway.
5. Remember that enlightenment isn't the end.
Just as a Zen master who achieves enlightenment must still live in the world and overcome daily struggles, a company with a top position on Google's rankings still has plenty of day-to-day work to attend to. Never get complacent, or assume you've "made it," and you'll never be surprised when a competitor comes out of nowhere to try to take your ranking away from you. Stay committed to doing the right things, and you'll keep pulling farther ahead instead of letting others catch up.
The one thing you can count on in 2014 and beyond is a sea of constant change. Whether it's search engines, social media, or any of the other channels we use to let the world know about our products and services, we need to keep adapting with the times. With the right philosophy on your side, though, and a commitment to sharing quality ideas, you can stay calm and centred in the midst of all the unsettled marketers around you.
What do you think about this? Would you add to the Tao? Let us know below.