The Sweet Guide to SEO for People

chocolate-doesnt-ask-silly-questions

There is a very popular meme online about chocolate: “chocolate doesn’t ask silly questions, chocolate understands”.

For all the men out there who don’t get the subliminal message in that quote: it’s about relationships. Men tend to ask silly questions while chocolate comforts immediately. So in case your wife gets overweight because she’s eating too much chocolate it may be actually your fault.

Today I want to introduce Sweet Enticing Optimization for real people and their senses.

I have been known for a few years for trying to redefine and reform SEO and when I saw this quote on Pinterest I knew that it also has a meaning in the SEO industry.

Unlike others who declared it dead for good or at least retired it I never gave up. I firmly believe that SEO is an inherently good thing. How can optimizing and improving anything not be a positive thing?

 
Do not optimize for the algorithm

So it’s like chocolate that tastes better the more you optimize the recipe. Websites that get optimized get better too. Sites optimized for search do to some extent as well. Only to some extent though. You want to reach people first and foremost.

I get bored to death with algorithm chasing SEO everybody and their mom practices these days.

I don’t really care for Pandas and Penguins and what Matt Cutts says. Other people hang on his lips like some Pavlov’s dogs and bark each time they get served some sparse “update” or “penalty” info. Or webmasters ask silly questions for Matt Cutts to offer us some “transparency”. Indeed some questions are even made up, Google employees ask Matt Cutts questions they have seen in a similar way on Google Webmaster Forums help threads for example.

 

Don’t ask stupid questions

Most of the webmaster questions are pretty silly.

I don’t say that because I am the “superhero SEO” with almost a decade of experience. I stay humble and keep on learning SEO anew each day. It’s that you could even reduce some of them to their basic message of “how can take short-cuts in SEO without getting penalized?”.

In many cases the questions deal with issues Google created itself.

How can I nofollow this or disavow that without hurting my site? You are hurting your site right now by listening to Google and their PR machine. You would be better off learning SEO from tasting sweet chocolate than from listening to Matt Cutts.

 

Learn from chocolatiers

Ask yourself: how does this chocolate taste so good?

  1. Is it the sugar level?
  2. Is it the percentage of cocoa?
  3. Is it that additional flavors?
  4. Is it about the extra ingredients?

Have you seen the movie Chocolat with Johny Depp?

chocolat-movie

The movie is about a chocolatier who fights with a whole city of petty bourgeois traditionalists who want her to stop seducing their inhabitants. Step by step she wins over even the most conservative ones.

 

Optimize your site not the search engine

Optimizing for search engines is like fixing the road your customers need to use to get to your store. Your store doesn’t look better when you do it and your product, chocolate for example doesn’t taste better when you do it.

You can clean up the street before your store from rubbish lying around but it’s not your job to fix the asphalt. Likewise it’s Google’s job to fix their algorithm.

Your job is to improve your store and your product. How do you make your offer sweet and tasty? How do you entice people to enter your store, to peruse your products and to finally buy them?

 

Make it sweet but not too sweet

Some people still think that adding more of everything is always better. Adding more keywords to your site, title, content, adding more products per page, above the fold, adding more choices in menus, adding more links from more sites. Are you better by having more of everything? Is keyword stuffing, clutter, an overdose of choices better? Of course not.

Other people tend to reduce everything assuming that minimalism will by itself solve all problems. These people are a bit less misguided than the others but by removing everything in their way doesn’t mean customers will want to buy your minimalist bland product.

It’s aboutΒ  the exact dose of sugar and the appearance of that piece of chocolate.

It’s a big difference whether it’s just a chocolate bar or whether it’s a box of chocolates with a special collection in it. The amount of sugar is often too much, I can’t eat many sorts of chocolate because it is too sweet.

 

Add more cocoa

OnΒ  the other hand I always look at the actual percentage of cocoa in chocolate. Everything below 50% is low level. Usually the more cocoa the better the taste.

In SEO or content terms, cocoa is the depth.

Don’t mistake it for the size. Just by creating larger packages you won’t make people want more necessarily, you just trick them. The “long content” hype has similar effects: some people mistake larger for better but you can’t fool everybody. Many people will simply leave instead.

 

Focus on organic and fair trade

The only reason why I decode to buy the chocolate with less cocoa as the main ingredient is that it’s made from organic milk etc. and has been made in decent and fair conditions without exploitation. Most people are still oblivious to the labor conditions their food gets manufactured in.

You can bet that workers who are treated badly not only work less effectively. They are tired after long hours for example or hungry and frustrated because of low pay. Often pesticides or other toxic remnants may end up in the food because of the lack of respect for both workers and consumers.

Organic farming is by definition healthier and safer but as noted above organic and fair trade together is best.

So how does this translate into SEO? In the SEO industry there is lots of so called outsourcing going on. When working with agencies of any size beyond ” a few” employees you either end up being served by the lowest paid inhouse employee or someone in India or even cheaper nations by now. Don’t mistake this for racism. I don’t say Indian SEO is bad or something. Indian SEO is just seriously underpaid and hidden from sight.

 

Who is your chocolatier?

Even myself, being from Germany, I often face “clients” who want me to optimize for them without telling anybody. The first thing after they contact me they want me to sign an NDA (a shut up notice). Don’t tell anybody about us and our cooperation. They want to earn the respect for my work while I can’t expand my portfolio.

As an SEO practicioner who wants to offer quality you’d rather aim for the organic and fair trade equivalent of services to gain a reputation and positive brand.

Make sure the people who work for you are real people not just nameless individuals you can easily exchange. Flaunting a big name (of the CEO for example) may still suffice now but people burned by penalties will enquire deeper and want to know who is actually doing the work.

What’s their name and level of expertise? Why does your business have something to hide? The better the chocolatier the better the chocolate. Make a name for yourself and your employees, each one of them. Personal branding is the way to go.

 

The cost of quality doesn’t matter

In fair trade there are often people working overseas as cocoa doesn’t grow everywhere. The chocolate may cost twice as much as the one based on exploitation but for those who care about quality the sum doesn’t matter.

In SEO quality and the long term matter. So don’t just focus on the outcome, also focus on the process and who actually does the processing.

You’d rather make people pay more than declaring them later that you failed

because of lack of resources or the wrong people. Hiring anyone off the streets without the skills needed doesn’t work from day one. You need to educate these people for years until their level of expertise is high enough to face complex SEO tasks.

So you see, it’s not just about chocolate! It’s not only about sweetness. It’s about the actual ingredients and the process that leads to quality and long term success. Just imagine your customers are potential partners: how would you entice them? Then start to optimize. It works both for women and men. Algos have to adapt to your popularity then.

9 responses to “The Sweet Guide to SEO for People

  1. Love this post πŸ™‚

    I haven’t been in SEO a decade, but I have been around enough to realize that “SEO” is useless without User eXperience.

    To take your “road” example; if you fix up your store and make it a place people WANT to go, they will find ways to get to you even if the road isn’t all “pretty”. Just saying πŸ™‚

    1. How true! In fact I live in an area that’s not very clean but so cool that we have tourists from all over the world flocking in.

    2. How true! In fact I live in an area that’s not very clean but so cool that we have tourists from all over the world flocking in.

  2. Love this post πŸ™‚

    I haven’t been in SEO a decade, but I have been around enough to realize that “SEO” is useless without User eXperience.

    To take your “road” example; if you fix up your store and make it a place people WANT to go, they will find ways to get to you even if the road isn’t all “pretty”. Just saying πŸ™‚

  3. This makes me want chocolate.
    But seriously, this is good stuff. I have been on a roll about “more is not better” lately and this fits nicely with the way I have been thinking and advising.
    I think so many people have been parroting “quality content” for so long that they have forgotten what quality means. So I am all for more comparisons to chocolate, food, roads, parking lots, or anything else that will get people back into some rational thought about optimizing websites.

    1. Thank you Nick! Glad to hear that you are on the right track. Next post: “What Parking Lots Taught Me About SEO” πŸ™‚

    2. Thank you Nick! Glad to hear that you are on the right track. Next post: “What Parking Lots Taught Me About SEO” πŸ™‚

  4. This makes me want chocolate.
    But seriously, this is good stuff. I have been on a roll about “more is not better” lately and this fits nicely with the way I have been thinking and advising.
    I think so many people have been parroting “quality content” for so long that they have forgotten what quality means. So I am all for more comparisons to chocolate, food, roads, parking lots, or anything else that will get people back into some rational thought about optimizing websites.

  5. Tad Chef what a beautiful article. You put a right line to prove you saying. I am impressed with your work because you match this line with the whole article. The guidelines that you talking about being really sweet and assist a lot of people that will work as an SEO.

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