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Effective SEO: The Difference Between “Right” and “Not Wrong”

QuestionThere’s a lot of great SEO advice out there, but there’s an unwritten assumption behind a lot of it — that being that the audience has even the slightest clue what part of that advice is good for them. It’s all too easy to go online and find reams of words written about why it’s critical for you to canonicalize your URLs or silo your content or avoid bad link neighborhoods or whatever — and even a lot of words written about why — not so much about who cares.

Technical vs. Marketing SEO Advice
The vast majority of SEO advice breaks down into two basic categories: technical advice (like URL canonicalization), and marketing advice (like how to create interesting content.) The key to knowing whether a given piece of advice is useful to you in the immediate sense is recognizing which category that particular advice belongs to — because then you know who cares about that advice.

Who Cares?
This part should be obvious if you stop and think about it — Google cares about the technical side of the equation. You can tell, because they’re the ones who make the rules. Or at least, they make the algorithm that kind of incidentally sets the rules. The marketing side was built from the ground up to please the customer, so any marketing advice (mostly called ‘content creation’ these days) is purely customer-centric.

Your Audience Brings The Money; Google Brings the Pain
If the practical upshot of all of this isn’t obvious yet, let me add one more step of reasoning to the chain: satisfying Google will keep your site off of Google’s blacklist — but those technical requirements aren’t ever going to be enough to get you a good place on the SERPs.  If you don’t do them, you won’t get on the SERPs even if your other bits are good, so you DO have to do them, but doing them isn’t enough to take your site to the top.

But There’s a Wonderful Part
The wonderful thing about Google’s algorithm is that it’s literally based on ‘what makes customers happy’ — literally, every number Google tracks to determine your place on the SERPs is based on how satisfied your site is likely to make your customers. So if you’re pleasing your customers, you’re pleasing Google…provided you’ve covered all of your technical bases.

“Right” vs. “Not Wrong”
In short, the point here is that you can follow millions of articles worth of SEO advice, but if you stick entirely to the “not wrong” side — the technical side — you’ll never win Google over. But if you do the “right” sign — the marketing side — without also doing the “not wrong” side, you’ll also never win Google over.

So if you’re investing heavily into SEO and you’re not seeing any results, ask your SEO company: what does the marketing side of your plan look like?  Because there’s a good chance the technical side is well-covered, but the company you hired just never really got around to the content creation side of things.  Get that fixed, pronto, and watch your results perk up.

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