With Valentines day fast approaching I started thinking about what is wrong with how we think about SEO and Google in particular.
With SEO training Google tends to be the main focus with clients. They want to climb the Google ranks. That is because in many ways Google is the only search engine that matters. However, romancing Google is not how we should view SEO.
Saying “be my valentine” to Google is much akin to saying “be my valentine” to your sweethearts mother. You will not get the girl/guy by focusing your affections on their mother. You will get the cold shoulder.
In SEO circles there is much talk of getting some Google love. But Google doesn’t love. Google rewards the love that others give you. They reward the relationships you build with other users. Google are blatantly open about this. The first three Google webmaster guidelines for content and design deal with making your site easy to navigate, easy to find (sitemap) and creating useful and information rich pages. In other words they are telling us that we should create websites for people and not search engines.
Our focus should not be on romancing Google, but on romancing visitors and other webmasters (all of whom are human). Of course you have to keep your would be mother in law happy too. There is no harm in being charming with Google, but the way to Google’s affections is to concentrate on your content and your visitors.
Unlike most mothers I know, Google is quite happy to see you “sowing your wild oats” with as many people, across as many sites as possible. Rather than utter “be my valentine” to just one user, it pays to shout it out with gay abandon across the entire universe that is the internet.
If your heart is true (your content is fantastic), you will attract the affections (links) of users across the world. Human nature being what it is, more links means more visitors. Charisma is infectious. Once you gain the affections of some of your users more will come, just because you appear popular. It’s just like in school, when people want to be associated with the “in’ crowd. They put effort into getting close to them, creating links with them and boosting themselves through association. So what have the “in” crowd got in internet terms? Nothing more than great content.
What makes great content is another discussion entirely.
Don’t be my valentine Google. I prefer humans to algorithms.