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Stop Optimizing for Google. Start Optimizing for People


Filling your site with content that ranks is a limited view of optimization. When we talk about search engine optimization (SEO), your first and foremost goal should always be to create content that benefits your users. Google will tell you as much.

Google will tell you time and time again that, when it comes to creating content and optimizing your site, you should ALWAYS filter through the eyes of the user. Everything – your blog content, your links, your navigation, et al., – must provide value to the people who view it. It’s time to stop optimizing solely for Google. Start optimizing for people…and the search results will follow.

Stop the Keyword Stuffing Once and for All

Once upon a time, it was enough to rank for keywords by stuffing your content full of the ones you wanted to rank for. This is considered an old-hat SEO tactic that simply doesn’t work anymore. It is not enough to fill your content with all the keywords (and variations of keywords) you want to rank for and expect Google to reward you for your efforts.

Google’s primary job is to benefit users with the content that best matches their searches. Google and you have the same customer: the user. When you optimize for your users, good SEO happens naturally. When you create content that gives the people what they want, Google will recognize that and start to give YOU want you want: users.

How to Optimize for People

So how do you optimize for people? Put them first! Answer the questions your customers and prospects are asking by continually speaking to them. Identify your target market and create content that speaks to them and serves their needs. Don’t just tell people how awesome you are. SHOW them with unique, informative, and well-crafted content of all kinds. It should never be duplicated or regurgitated from another site. It needs your one-of-a-kind stamp to truly make a mark and engage an audience.

How to Know if You’ve Optimized Correctly

Google Analytics can tell you when people come to your site, where they visit, how long they stay there, and when they leave. It will tell you what people are doing when they come to you if they are reading, sharing, commenting, etc. An engaging site is a sign to Google that it’s worthwhile. So always have user-enriching content on your site! The stickier your site, the more Google likes it and will give you the search results you want.

If someone types in a keyword, clicks on a site, and immediately goes back to Google, that may be a sign to Google that something’s wrong with your content. Use Google Analytics to figure out how people are using your site. If they’re leaving or they’re not converting, you’ll need to take a good, hard look at where you can improve. This could mean adding fresher content more consistently, writing catchier headlines, crafting compelling calls-to-action, or backlinking.

Google has the best interests of the people using it in mind. This is exactly the approach you should take as well. So forget about Google for just a second and think: who are my users and how can I serve them best? This should drive your content strategy from this day forward. Optimize your content for people first and Google will follow suit.

Bryan Marvin is a Data Activation Specialist and the leader of the SEO Team at RSM Marketing. He graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in English Literature. He has worked at RSM since 2019 and is passionate about all things spreadsheets. Outside of work, Bryan enjoys board games, reading, and spending time with his wife and baby boy.

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