The world of SEO as we knew it is dead (thankfully): Rest in Peace. Stop trying to climb the Google results page without a deep understanding of this post’s topics; stop reading all the SEO definitive guides and 10-step courses that promise to get on you on Google’s first page. None of these work anymore.
Let me share with you one little concept: the art of Search Engine Optimization is to focus (or should be focused) on optimizing every piece of content in a website to make search engines, like Google, come and index the website’s content in the best and fastest way possible. Instead, these activities have often been focused on trying to “trick” search engines to show the content on their first page, without adding real value to the results.
Now, let me explain: the word SEO already has in it everything you need to understand: Optimization. Optimization of your website and its pages. This often gets confused with building a site specifically for search engine attraction, or thinking and planning content for them. Wrong!
I truly believe that if you do some digital activity and want to attract people to your website from search engines (which you probably do if you’re reading this), the best place to start is understanding how search engines work.
This should give you an overall idea of what search engines are looking for. The short answer: to satisfy the user’s needs. What does it mean? Instead of focusing on spiders, crawlers, and robots you should start focusing on your users, the people who read your content.
So how do we focus on people? How does the new SEO work?
I have 5 simple but effective rules; proven tactics that have boosted my website traffic into a machine generating over 500,000 visitors per month. (My blog is in Italian, but please have a look: TrucchiFacebook.)
Welcome the New SEO: Focus on People
1. Identify Your Target
The new method of optimization for your website starts from a strategic, but essential, step: your focused target.
Who is going to read your content? Who is going to link to it? And, above all, are you attracting your ideal buyers?
The best way to take this step is by following the buyer persona definition, a system that integrates research, surveys, and interviews with your target audience to identify the best representations of your ideal customers. This includes a mix of customers, prospects, and those outside of your contact database who might align with your target audience.
Download our ebook to get a template and a guide that help you define your personas.
2. Answer Their Questions
Now, once you have identified your ideal customers and what problems they’re trying to solve, you will know the exact things they’re going to look for on search engines.
Addressing people issues is by far the best SEO formula. Make use of keyword research tools such as Google Adwords Keyword Planner, and SEO tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs.
These important tools will help you identify the exact keywords that both your prospects and clients are currently using on Google.
3. Build an Editorial Calendar
Start by listing out 10 questions your ideal clients have right now. These will be the topics of your next 10 titles for your blog (or pages of your website).
Again, we are focusing on people, addressing their needs, removing the obstacles that restrain them from being a client. Don’t focus on search engines, not yet.
4. Optimize Posts and Pages
Here come the *old* SEO. This is the important step that you keep finding in every SEO guide. I’m not saying it’s not important, but it’s less important than our first 3 steps.
Pages/post optimization means, in short, following these best practices:
- Title: your SEO title should be keyword focused and a maximum of 70 characters (minimum 40).
- Description: SEO description should also be keyword focused, describing the content of the post/page and be at maximum 156 characters.
- URL/Permalink: try and make it short, remove any stop words and add the keyword to it.
- Words count: if you want your post to get indexed well by Google try making it no less than 1,000 words.
These can easily be done with SEO plugins. (On WordPress, we use Yoast SEO.)
5. Share, Promote & Engage your Content
Now that you have a list of posts that answer your buyer persona’s needs, are SEO optimized, and published on your website, its time to share this content on social media, to your email list, and on any other digital channel you have.
Sharing content through these avenues means you will reach more people, and those you have targeted who find it helpful can then easily share it with their friends.
Together with sharing content, consider promoting it to a targeted audience using Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media advertising channels.
Also, don’t forget that your content is going to receive comments, on your website or social media; be prepared to respond, as it’s the best way to show your expertise online.
The new SEO focuses on people instead of search engines. It starts by identifying their needs and addresses them with strategic and valuable content.
This is the only formula that works today in a highly competitive online space.
Your turn: what SEO rules do you follow on your website or blog? Do you have any questions? Please add your comments and questions below.