Just received this email:
I heard Douglas talk at Blog Indiana about how SEO is dead and keywords are not as important as they used to be. How do you effectively convince clients of this? Would be interested on your take.
Note: While keywords aren't as important… it's still important to utilize the right keywords. We spend a lot of time with our clients on keyword research. The slide I shared with the audience to show that you must use the correct keyword (and spelling) was cat breading versus cat breeding. This is cat breading:
Making clients understand that keyword utilization isn't as important is more difficult. While search engines make constant changes to their algorithms, companies are very slow to adopt. Within the SEO industry, we keep a watchful eye and implement changes immediately so that our clients can leverage search and stay ahead of the competition. If your clients don't believe you, I'd recommend a couple of tactics.
First, take advice from Google. Maile Ohye is a search product manager at Google and points out the common mistakes that marketers make when it comes to search engine optimization. You'll notice that keywords aren't in the conversation! The mistakes they make are lack of a value proposition, no segmented approach, using workarounds, not paying attention to SEO trends and slow iteration.
Okay… Google said it and you said it, but your client still doesn't believe it. Next up is the monkey's fist approach. A monkey's fist is a special knot tied on the end of a rope. In the Navy, when ships would come to anchor, you'd throw the monkey's fist ashore where someone would grab it and pull in the rope. At the end of that rope was the huge anchoring rope. You couldn't throw the huge rope, so you start with the small rope. Throw your client a monkey's fist before trying to throw them the big rope.
- Set up a test with them where you optimize 10 existing blog posts by using keywords properly. Find 10 posts where you are ranking but not ranking well for a given keyword. Optimize the keywords, use them in the titles, find images where you can use them in the alternative text tags, make sure you have 3 to 4 mentions in the text to improve the keyword density. Keep track of the time that you spend optimizing those posts, wait 4 weeks and measure the results in your analytics.
- Set up a test where you write 10 new blog posts that are compelling. Use great imagery – perhaps photos of customers or some stock images that are beautiful, write titles that bait folks into reading more, and write customer stories or advice posts that will truly help your customers. Disregard keyword usage… ignore them altogether. Share the work on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and anywhere else you can. Strike up some conversations. Keep track of the time that you spend, wait 4 weeks and measure the results in your analytics.
By focusing on your customer and the content instead of the keywords, I'm confident you will find that the second option will outperform the first option every time. I'm not advising anyone to stop optimizing, my point is that when you stop focusing on the mechanics of search engine optimization and, instead, put your effort into great content and promotion of that content – you'll win every time!
Crawlers and bots don't buy your products and services, people do. When you change your style to speak to a crawler or a bot, you're going to lose customers.