An Optimist’s Approach to SEO

7 min. read

Building an SEO strategy from scratch can be a daunting endeavor. And understandably so. 

The Google-verse is such an incalculably massive place, and attempting to achieve any relevance in it seems arduous at first. After all, the internet is home to nearly 2 billion websites. 

So how is one voice meant to rise above the deafening babel of billions? The good news is, it’s not. 

As you’re probably well aware, SEO is not about outranking everyone. For most companies, this would be a Herculean (if not Sisyphean) venture. 

The point is to create the best possible content for the specific topics you want to be known for. To do what you already do best. 

Search engine ranking is commonly compared to a library; the building itself represents the internet and the neatly organized books housed within represent webpages. Everything is meticulously sorted and presented to readers according to an algorithm. 

You just want to ensure that your book occupies a place on the shelf that will easily catch a person’s eye. You don’t want to be buried and lost in the stacks of anonymous un-optimized books. 

(Alright, enough of that metaphor.)

It really comes down to carving out a niche for yourself and establishing authority in that defined space. 

Optimization means increasing the odds that people will discover your business rather than one of your competitors. And luckily, there are some tried and true methods for achieving this goal.

Play to Your Strengths

Above all, SEO is a matter of authority and relevance. The end game is to stake a claim to the specific search queries and SERPs (search engine results pages) that most directly benefit your organization. 

This is why we encourage our clients to look inward and focus their energy on creating content that showcases their unique expertise on a clearly defined topic. 

A biotech company, for example, would have a hard time ranking for high-volume head terms like “biology” or “medicine.” However, if they can focus instead on long-tail keywords/phrases related to their topic of expertise like “plant-made biologics,” their SEO efforts have a higher chance of paying off.

Compelling, rankable articles are almost always written by people with a genuine passion for and knowledge of a subject. Following on-page SEO best practices is imperative, of course, but readers can tell when a company is simply spewing words onto a page for the sake of a shameless SEO grab. 

Tactics such as keyword stuffing and purchasing backlinks may have worked in the past, but the algorithm has advanced to a point where only content that offers real value has the potential to rank. 

This means content written by people who know what they’re talking about. 

So, if you want to earn a spot among the top results of a search query, determine which topics you can offer readers the most authoritative insights and information, and move forward from there.

Focus on improving, not winning

There is no finish line when it comes to SEO. It’s a game that never ends, so victory is a very mercurial state of affairs. Sure, you might rank high or “win” a keyword one week, but you could easily be bumped off by another site the following week. 

So, rather than fixating on finite metrics or scoreboard watching, keep your head down and focus on constantly improving. Positive results will follow. 

As Simon Sinek says, “Infinite-minded people recognize that best is not a permanent condition, so instead, they strive for better.” 

SEO is about realizing your own full potential. The acronym stands for Search Engine Optimization, not Search Engine Competition. 

The competitive aspect of SEO is just that: an aspect. It’s far from the whole picture. Besides, the acronym SEC is already being used by at least two major organizations.

An optimistic approach to SEO means not getting hung up on immediately trying to leapfrog your rivals. Climbing up the ranks will come with time. SEO is an iterative process that requires patience. 

When you hear statistics like “the first page of Google results gets 70% of clicks,” it’s easy to let your competitive instincts take over. However, keep in mind that this is not one big battle of you versus everybody else. 

It’s two much smaller battles of, first, you versus yourself, and second, you versus the other firms in your specific industry. 

Know thyself

Socrates said it best. And although he certainly wasn’t talking about SEO, self-reflection is a big part of the optimization process. Improving your website is the perfect opportunity to get to know yourself and your customers better. 

“What does my audience want to know and what do I have to offer them?” 

Questions like this are what SEO is meant to draw out of you. And the answers will help shape your business on and offline. 

Laying the groundwork for a more SEO-friendly website also gives you time to reflect on what is and isn’t working from a technical standpoint. Tools like Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Google My Business hold a mirror up to your current website and force you to reckon with the truth of how things are really performing. 

Technical SEO Audits expose things that might otherwise be easy to ignore, like broken links, unindexed pages, and duplicate content. 

Tasks like these may seem tedious, but in the end, they will make your website stronger and increase your chances of ranking on search engines. Even doing things like mapping redirects and looking through your sitemap will make you more intimately familiar with your site’s structure and contents, which will make you a better custodian of it in the future.

Keyword research is another exercise in self-reflection because it’s all about what your customers hope to gain from your content. Or, someone’s content. But, preferably yours. 

Tools like MOZ and SEMrush offer you valuable insights into what your audience is interested in learning more about. Analyzing what people are searching for naturally gives you insights into their desires and curiosities. It also points out where potential gaps in available information may exist. Gaps that you can fill with well-optimized, well-written content. 

This ideation process will guide your content creation framework and can help your business write copy that effectively answers frequently asked questions. Create valuable, informative, link-worthy content that is easy for search engines to crawl, index, and rank, and the rest will take care of itself.

You’ve Got This

SEO, as with all other things in life, is all about attitude. At Digital Impulse, we encourage our clients to be optimistic and ambitious with their marketing efforts. Sure, there may be a number of websites currently standing between you and that front page of Google, but if those other sites could get there, why not you?

So instead of losing hair, sleep, and time trying to outsmart the system, focus on the one thing you can control: the quality of your content and your website. Everything else is, as we say in the agency world, “out of scope.”

Chances are, you have a unique and interesting story to tell or a perspective to offer your target audience, which already gives you a leg up in terms of SEO. The next steps are to familiarize yourself with the playbook of best practices that will help that unique perspective reach as many people as possible. 

Optimizing your website means helping search engines help you. That’s it. So, don’t be intimidated by the scale and complexity of Google. It is your friend.

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