Why I’m Not Going to Get You to Rank #1 in Google
Hi, my name is Caitlin. I provide content writing/strategy with an SEO focus, and I am not going to get you to rank #1 in Google search results.
*car wheels screech*
*a random baby starts crying*
*car alarm goes off (you know, the one with eight different alarms in one that makes you contemplate going after it with a metal baseball bat)*
Calm down, you guys. I’m not saying this because I’m being unreasonable or because I’m deliberately holding out on you. I’m telling you this because I’m not one of those shitty SEO people who are trying to rip you off.
Let’s take a step back.
Who knows what SEO means? It means Search Engine Optimization. No. Stop. Read that again carefully. Notice how SEO does not mean GOOGLE Engine Optimization? And I’m not even making that distinction so that we’re making sure we’re including Google’s slightly uglier siblings: Yahoo and Bing, its endearing-yet-slightly-creepy uncle Ask (who likes to remind anyone who will listen that his cool nickname in college was “Jeeves”), and its foreign exchange pen pal Baidu.
Because here’s the thing: Twitter is a search engine, Youtube is a search engine, you better believe Pinterest is a search engine, and Facebook is trying really, really hard to also be a search engine.
And here’s the other thing: search engine algorithms (of all kinds) are getting smart because the internet is not a new thing anymore and your human visitors (yeah, you know, those numbers you obsess about in Google Analytics are actual humans with brains and feelings and stuff) are getting better at knowing where to go to find the information they want and looking past the crap that’s just a waste of time.
Because of this, the search engines are constantly adjusting their search algorithms to cater more and more toward the user (we’re talking about those humans again) experience. Because you know and I know and the search engines know that if your site looks like crap or if you’ve got a bunch of spammy popup windows all over the place or if your social media is all promotion and no conversation or especially if your content is absolute garbage, then you’ve got to fix a thing or two.
BUT for some reason people think that “thing”—that magical elixir of internet rankitude—is throwing a couple thousand dollars at an SEO person, and no problem, I’ll be #1 by next month.
No no no.
First of all, let’s forget the idea of #1
#1 does not exist. Straight up. There are so many “ones” and your one is not the same as my one. Got it? Do a Google search for “pizza” right now. I’ll wait. What do you see?
Next we’ve got some Google Places/Local listings (Google Plus pages for businesses/establishments). These are associated with Google reviews and/or the points on a map. These guys are specific to where you currently are—so again, this is different for everyone.
Then, after that—depending on where you are and what you’re searching—you’ll probably see some Yelp listings, maybe some articles about “5 Best Pizzas in [insert your city here]” and maybe some of the big wigs like Dominos or Pizza Hut will show up, but on the first page of search results, it’s rare that you’ll actually see a single pizza place listing. Because if you’re searching there, you’re probably trying to compare some options, right? The search engines know this. They know that a list of the top 5 pizza places in your town or reviews on Yelp are going to help you in your comparison.
So the truth is, it is likely not possible to rank #1 in search results for [insert your keyword here] unless you’re a huuuge corporation or unless you’re included in some awesome content.
And can I redirect you to my earlier point: They might be searching for “pizza” on Pinterest (to learn how to make a super cute and non-fat version) or Yelp (to find the nearest pizza place that delivers to them) or Instagram (idk to torture themselves while they wait for their pizza to be delivered or something) AND OMG NOW I JUST WANT PIZZA!!
That’s a whole lot of people you’re not paying attention to if you’re just obsessing over your Google rankings.
Content is king
But let’s take a look at those articles. That right there? That’s content marketing. THAT’S what’s up, you guys. The obnoxiously cliche term “content is king” has been thrown around for years and years now, but it is maybe more true now than it ever was before.
This is what I’m getting at. I can make a few tweaks on your site. I can make sure your meta tags are written correctly, do an audit to make sure your broken links are all pointed to real pages, and give your images some good alt titles so the search engines know what the heck you’re showing your humans, but if you’re focusing on that rather than on your website content and the value you provide across your sharing platforms (blog, social media, newsletter, etc.), then all you’re doing is looking for an easy way out.
Because it all works together—SEO, content strategy, social media, and marketing. If you’re not doing your part (or hiring someone to do all the parts), “SEO” isn’t going to work for you. And if that’s how you’re using the term “SEO,” then you don’t even understand the definition of SEO. Because Search Engine Optimization is not something you use to “trick” anyone into getting you to rank somewhere, Search Engine Optimization is having a well-designed website and brand, it’s having a marketing strategy that leads visitors to your buy/hire pages, and it’s having a content strategy that speaks to your visitors, addresses their needs, and provides them with value.
So if that’s what you’re looking for: a solid content strategy, website copy that engages your visitors on an emotion level (while keeping those keywords in mind…don’t worry, I’ve got you), and a plan of attack for how to share your voice across your various sharing platforms, let’s get in touch.
And if you feel like a little kid who just found out Santa doesn’t actually exist, take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay. There’s still plenty of magic to experience in this world, but you’re not going to see it by waiving the SEO wand. You’re going to see it when you forget about the crappy now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t tricks, and focus instead on content that makes a deep connection with your human visitors.