How To Master SEO and Get More Traffic
Google’s PageRank algorithm is so complex that even Google’s employees don’t fully understand how it works.
But mastering this algorithm isn’t the same as mastering search engine optimization (SEO).
Take it from me. I’m no programmer, yet I have many SEO successes as a freelance writer.
- My article “Does Caffeine Really Stimulate Fat Loss?” ranks #1 on Google search for “caffeine fat loss” and “caffeine fat burning”
- Google “whey protein keto” or “keto postworkout foods” and my long-form articles are both ranked first
- My blog post on omega fats ranks #1 for “chicken omega 6”
- I wrote an article on meditation that gained over 8,000 shares and 124,000 views
I have many more examples, but you get the point.
So, what’s my method?
To answer, we’ll need to geek out a bit on SEO.
Mollifying Google’s Algorithm
There’s an old joke.
An SEO copywriter walks into a bar, grill, pub, public house, Irish, bartender, drinks, beer, wine, liquor…
There is no punchline. The eruption of search terms is the punchline.
The joke made the Twitter rounds a few years back. We’ve all seen it: the vapid blog post with twenty keywords in the intro.
The practice, called “keyword stuffing”, is one of several employed in the name of search engine optimization – or SEO.
To some, SEO means mollifying Google’s search algorithm. If Google likes your content, you’ll appear high in search results. If not, Google will bury you.
As a result, many articles are now written with keywords – not readers – in mind. There are, I’m suggesting, issues with this strategy.
First, Google has grown wise to keyword stuffing. This tactic now triggers the algorithm to suppress the insipid content.
More importantly, Google search has a strong human component. The more people that read and share an article, the higher that article will appear in search results.
Yet social shares are down 50% since 2015[*]. What gives?
Old content, that’s what.
Why Old Content Won’t Work In 2019
There are, roughly speaking, one billion blogs on the internet. That’s one blog for every seven Earthlings. Supply, it’s obvious, has exceeded demand.
Many of these blogs employ the textbook SEO strategy of rehashing old content.
Here’s how that strategy goes:
- Select desired keyword based on search volume, brand relevancy, etc.
- Identify top-ranking articles for that keyword using a tool like SEMrush or Clearscope
- Amalgamate and rewrite content identified in step 2
- Publish rehashed content
- Hope it ranks
The rehash strategy used to work like gangbusters. Until, of course, everyone started doing it. Now you have 3000 blog posts on creatine all saying the same thing.
Imagine being forced to sit down and read these articles. Every single one of them. By the end, assuming your eyes held out, you would be dying for something fresh.
Google is not blind to this need. They want you stimulated, not frustrated, by Google search — and they’re always tweaking their algorithm to make things better.
This means that 2019 will be the year of creative content. Old content will fall, new content will rise.
Creating fresh content, as you might imagine, is hard work. In my field of health and science writing, it means poring over published research, grasping complex mechanisms, and relating them to the reader in an accessible way. It would be far easier, and far less time consuming, to simply rehash what Healthline or WebMD has written on any given topic.
Far easier, but far less effective. Rehashed content doesn’t appeal to readers, doesn’t rank, and does slip into oblivion.
2 SEO Lessons to Remember
What does all this mean for SEO in 2019?
First, keep your content fresh. The reader craves novelty, and Google knows it. Tired, rehashed content simply won’t cut it anymore.
Second, and more importantly, write for the reader. As important as keywords are, humans drive the SEO engine. Publish well-written, engaging, creative content — and the rest will handle itself.