Here’s a very serious question: what would you do if there was no Google?
What would you create? How would you create? How would you get found? This is relevant because today, getting found is harder than ever. Organic search still drives a ton of traffic, but the tools to determine what to be searched for are getting more difficult to use. True, Webmaster Tools now gives you more accurate query data, but you still don’t get keyword data in your analytics, and you’ll get even less from other search engines as time goes on.
So in the absence of navigational data to point you towards what’s popular with the masses, what would you create without a search engine bringing you new people?
I’d wager you’d do three things differently. First, you’d take more risks in the content you create, as you’d be worried less about search penalties and other technical distractions. You’d feel free to go “off topic” with stuff that’s on-brand but not on a targeted list of content and keywords.
Second, you’d probably write better stuff. Why? Because in the absence of Google or another search engine, word of mouth would be one of the only vehicles you’d have working for you out of the gate. Your stuff would naturally have to be better in order for anyone to share it.
Third and finally, you’d spend a lot more time cultivating your audience. Without Google, without search, you’d grow only if people talked about you, talked with you, and liked what you had to offer. You’d spend a lot more time retaining audience and less time trying to always reach the next brass ring, because the cost of acquiring new audiences would be significantly higher than the cost (and reward) of keeping the people you have. You might – gasp – even talk to your audience, one human being to another!
Unsurprisingly, the point of all this is that these three things are probably things you should be doing now anyway. As search gets more difficult, as content marketing gets more crowded, you’ll need to change your game, and these three methods are the basic starting points for doing so.
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Very interesting. I hear you saying that we need some perspective. So, how would you balance it out?
About 6 months ago I went to an extreme and pretty much stopped doing SEO. When a blogpost takes an average of 4 hours. I could no longer add on an additional 2 hours doing SEO–which include re-writes to smoothly integrate key words and phrases.
It came down to just being practical as a 1-man operation. Overall, I’m happier with my content, traffic continues to rise, visitors are looking at more pages, staying longer, and my bounce rate is waaaaaay down. And I’ve been cultivating a really cool community.
I agree with you 100%. When I was worried about making my Yoast plugin and Google happy, I was doing cliche stuff, taking fewer risks and overly worried about my Google Analytics dashboard.
One of the things I have been consistent caught up with is “analysis paralysis”. Should I make content I think people may want or as you say take risks. Also starting content producers get caught up in watching the numbers and statistics.
Concentrate on your work and find your unique voice. That is what will bring results.