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SEO is not a Service it is a Way of Life

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May 29th, 2024

Episode 4

Stu and Mariah chat about what it means to “do SEO” in 2024, and how organizations can embrace the recent Google updates to truly connect with audiences.

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Okay, hi, welcome again to the latest version of the stalemates podcast that I say that out loud, only caffeinated. Yes, fully caffeinated. Yeah, it’s about 830. In the morning here at the World Headquarters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Caffeine is needful. The other thing that we found is that we’re really close to some train tracks. So if you hear a pause as a train whistle sounds in the background. Yeah, we’re gonna not make you listen to that. And we’ll come back.  

Today, we really wanted to talk about SEO in a kind of a broad sense, not how to do it. And so but why and what it is, do you do SEO is my favorite question to get from from client? Yeah, yeah. Yes, we do. And so should you and it’s a way of life. Yeah. Well, in there, there seems to be a lot of confusion about SEO, because it’s it’s both a service and an action. It seems doing SEO is something like there’s this this written profile or or checklist that you go down step by step. There certainly is some of that. But like you said, it’s a way of life, because it also has to go back to purpose and reason for writing content. It has to be something that answers questions.  

We said this before. So really, when someone asks, If we offer SEO, what are they really asking for? What do you think? Yeah. So I want to clarify right away, we’re not talking techie SEO, we’re not talking we’re not talking backlink firm, and we’re not talking schema. We’re talking about ranking. Well, for terms for phrases for questions for intent. I think when somebody asks, If we off, if we do SEO, what they’re asking is, can you get my pages to rank higher than my competitors? Which is, yes, we can, but not today, not tomorrow, probably not even next week. It’s a concentrated effort, that is page by page by page. Your your site doesn’t necessarily rank for SEO, pages rank for SEO, and they all work together. And if all your pages work together, that’s how you’re going to rise in the rankings.  

When you say what do you do SEO? Yes, you have to do SEO every day, cyclically. Because SEO changes, you know, like we talked about last time, Google changes its algorithms, people change the way that they search. People are more demanding. Now they want the answer to the thing right now, they don’t want to read your whole page. They want to be able to go right to that answer. So if you’re giving that answer, you’re doing SEO, I want to explain it to somebody saying take action or don’t take action. Either way, you’re doing SEO Yeah. Because the decision to not act to not do anything is directly impacting your rankings in search. Or if you’re spreading the same idea 10 or 15 pages, because you can’t write you can’t appease your maybe your internal politically, this group wants this page and this group wants to talk about it and blah, blah, blah, that’s fine. But you need to pull them all together into one cohesive message or you’re just, it’s like diluting soup with water, you know, you’re dumping in more water thinking it’s still gonna taste good. And it’s not right.  

We’ll look into the the other part about this, and you just touched on internal stakeholders in demand. All too often, the requests about SEO come after a noisy stakeholder shows up at your door and says, Why are my competitors ahead of me in search? We don’t rank for this weird obscure term. That’s Oh, yeah, yeah, nobody looks Yeah, I can make you rank for that. And all both of you that search that we will find it. I guess the thing about SEO that strikes me when it comes to internal conversations, just kind of going to the the management of stakeholders. Very often the stakeholders may know enough to be dangerous. Or what they know is from assumptions that they’ve pieced together over the years, from going to conferences from reading something, or from just being irritated because they never find themselves insert themselves in search. When we’re talking to our stakeholders about this, the one thing I would advise is, is that the stakeholder may not be right, but it’s our job to help them be right. Yeah, we need to help them.  

We need to drill down and find out what their actual concern is, what the what their actual problem is, and help them articulate that very, very well. Or any work that we do will always miss the mark. Because it’s not that I’m not finding myself in search, it says it’s who they are finding very often, I want to help them help the doctor. And he came to with that same complaint by not finding myself in search. When we drilled into this, after a little discussion, a little more fact finding, if you will, discovery, we found out that the problem was this doctor had been an instructor for years and it particular discipline. So he was at the University teaching this stuff. And his real complaint wasn’t that he wasn’t being found is that his students were being found before him. So that actually gave us a little more focus.  

Now, you know, SEO is a tactic. Well, maybe that’s what that’s coming down to. But that helps us help him understand the discipline of SEO and what he can expect. You said something magical, it’s not going to happen tomorrow. Yeah. The fact is, is Google will take his own dear sweet time to write rewrite things. Bing, Yahoo. I’m gonna say Google a lot because they’re the largest player in the space. But they also have, they also have a system that everybody else replicates. If you’re in the ad space, you’ll notice that Google does something in their Google ads. And two months later, Bing does it in their ad space, the exact same thing. There’s a lot of follow the leader involved with this. So solving for Google tends to solve for everybody else. behind Google. Sorry, but they right now are the ones who are setting the pace for most others.  

Yeah, there’s one thing I want to throw at you here. Our offices are right next to each other. So Stu gets a lot of me coming in and being like, hey, still, here’s that here’s the thing. This is one thing that we talk about a lot is with with blog, which is my wheelhouse my teams will host we will sometimes get a story that immediately goes to the topic ranks for a very specific topic, whereas a webpage on the same topic might take a month, two months, six months. Can we talk about that? Because I think our clients sometimes get they get the impression like, Well, we did this story and it was shot straight to the top. Why does it why doesn’t our page rank for this? One reason? Maybe your blog doesn’t rank doesn’t link to the page.  

But again, yeah, yeah, that’s that’s a little bit of a bunny. The reason that can happen is because the blog tends to be fresh content, it’s something was just put out there. It may be more specific than that organic internal internal website pages. It may have a particular slant or a particular bias toward a a search that’s happening in the moment specific answer to a question. Yeah. We had all sorts of content on a hospital website, once upon a time, about drug addiction, about addiction, recovery, and on and on and on. But the one thing that turned it all was an article on Prince after his death, even though every word that was in that article appeared inside except for course, Prince’s name. Inside the regular web page content, it was the article that took off a timely search, yeah, is the timely search. There is some degree of difference in how things rank things that are newsworthy, versus things that are evergreen, Constant Content content.  

Very often we in fact, use blogs. For that reason, we address the thing that’s happening in the moment in the awareness of the population. We’re trying to talk to the audience we’re trying to talk to let me do that with a blog article that talks about those specifics. Still trying to remain somewhat evergreen in the content. But we know that that’s going to percolate to the top in the results because it answers the question of the moment. Yeah, exactly. And that’s really what blog content is, in my mind, and I don’t think I’ve heard it referred to this recently. But in my mind, that’s what makes blog content variable content. Because you can cover the same the same topic multiple, multiple times from different angles. So yeah, that’s really something that’s important. And very often, when a stakeholder comes in, says, I’m not ranking, the first thing we’re going to do after assessing their content, is consider how we can write the variable blog content that might bring this up to the top that might, you know, that rising tide that might float all boats.  

Yeah. I think it’s changed a lot over the last decade as far as what matters in SEO? Like what are some of the things that you’ve seen steer that that are really different now compared to you know, 10 years ago? Well, 10 years ago, it was keyword driven. We decided we needed to be found for XYZ, and we would use that and tags can we took us? Yeah, that’s the that’s where the concept of keyword stuffing came from. And that concept still exists because you don’t want to be doing that. But not for perhaps the boldface keyword-stuffing reason, but because everybody would look at that as saying you’re writing for a search engine and not for a person that’s crappy content. Yeah, yeah. readability. All of this stuff goes into it. And having quality content on the web now is more closely related to having quality content in Time Magazine.  

The assessment of the of what’s written how it’s written the authoritativeness of everything from the from the author to the content itself, and onward, is part of it. So really, if there’s any change, it’s that, again, Google looks at context, which means all search engines do to one degree or another. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. So it’s the question posed in search, it’s the answer posed on the page, and then the surrounding support of the content around the answer. Yeah. It feels like SEO, and Google and Bing, and everybody has grown up alongside of the digital, the digital search community, I guess, for lack of a better word. Like we’ve all changed how we search, we’ve changed what we expect out of the results that we get, like you just said, if I click on something, and it’s clickbait, and it’s crap, people are gonna say something about that, and you’re gonna see fewer followers, you’re gonna see less web savvy, and Google sees that they want to keep feeding the people that make the clicks that pay the bills, right? If nothing else, Google was the world’s largest focus group, it pays attention to how they pay attention to pages.  

If more people come to the page and bounce, which means less than 10 seconds, by the way, Google is going to down rank that page is not engaging, it’s doing something wrong. So you know, there’s a lot of assessment that goes into it. But I would really say that the main difference is, we have to be more on our toes now than we ever did. It isn’t simply enough to have, they’re going to ask this question. They’re going to use this term, we need to have this term on our page. And we need to answer it by using that term a lot. In other words, I looked up a word and the definition included that same word multiple times, which isn’t helpful. Right, right. Tell me what to do with this information. Yes, the information, here’s what I should do with it. Here’s the step you have to take to do it. Yeah, it’s all included in that intention, right? Why are they searching it unless they want to do something with that information? Interestingly, while links have always been important, a really big deal is internal links. You’ll hear us say this many times across podcasts, blogs, everywhere else, internal links, help anybody, the humans, not just the search engines, understand what goes together, how does this content gets supported by something else? It also is a vote internally saying, You know what, you’ve read this, you really need to go over here and read this other thing. So make the links relevant, though, just say, Hey, you just finished reading a blog on x, we got a really, really popular blog over here. You don’t care if it’s relevant or not. But you gotta go over here and see it and help support it.  

Yeah. No, don’t do that. Make your links relevant to the content on the page. Yeah. So three, we like to end these things with three things you can do right now, because we can talk aspirationally all we want. But what are we going to do with this information? So I just heard you say, include appropriate calls to action and interlinking? Right? Yeah, a couple of other thing?  

Well, the other part about it is in the calls to action. The reason that’s important is I asked a question, you said you had an answer now to what what do I do with the answer? The call to action may not be come have an appointment, come do this, the call to action, maybe learn more? Do the next thing. The next thing. Let’s lead you by the hint, let’s show you our authoritative answers on this topic and go on. Another thing you need to do is keep in mind that we deal with a lot of clients ourselves that have a learning expectation that they have a scholarly approach to things whereas a doctor or a teacher or lawyer, they have a level of expertise they want to convey. And for them, it’s difficult to understand that they need to write at a sixth grade level.  

Don’t talk over the head of people understand that the people who are reading your content are more likely standing in line at Starbucks waiting for coffee than having a contemplative moment sitting at their desk at at a quiet moment in their day. It’s not happening that way. It has to be digestible, not dumbed down. But digestible. You want to hold their attention and and help them understand that you have the answer to their questions.  

Yeah, absolutely. I guess the third thing is have a purpose have a plan. I just said repeatedly the keywords aren’t the aren’t the be all end all in SEO? You okay, kinda. You do tend to think by grouping your your pages and your content around thoughts. We can consider those to be search terms, if you will, but you will have some target and in that, to that state, you will be thinking in terms of keywords or search terms or queries that you need to answer. But don’t look at it as that’s the only thing to consider.  

Thanks for listening to “Did I Say that Out Loud?” with Stu Eddins and Mariah Tang. Check out the show notes for more information about today’s episode. And if you have any questions, concerns or comments, hit us up anytime at stamats.com

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