The Problem With “Create Great Content”


I had an conversation with my Dad a couple of weeks ago about Internet marketing. He’s an old school business owner who doesn’t know a lot about the web, but knows that he should probably be doing something online.

I talked with him for a while about some different things he could be doing — SEO, CRO, PPC, blogging, etc. He’s in the same position as a lot of small business owners. He doesn’t have any web marketing people on staff and he doesn’t want to spend a ton of money to start seeing results. (If you work on the agency side of SEO, this is a dilemma that you come across a lot.)

“What should I be doing to get more leads from the web?” he asked.

I took a minute and thought about how to answer his question. Creating web marketing strategies is what I do for 8+ hours a day so it shouldn’t have been too hard to answer, but for whatever reason I was really racking my brain. After all, if there’s one person you don’t want to disappoint it’s your Dad.

If you subscribe to Google’s recommendations, then the answer is that your time is best spent “making users happy” or “creating great content”…what exactly that means I’m not sure, but that seems to be the common answer if you read industry blogs and publications.

While the Google PR machine and the Moz zombies continue the chants of “Make users happy” and “Create great content” those of us in the real world know that the best answer to my Dad’s conundrum is to invest in actual SEO — the type of SEO that is driven by data, produces tangible results and generates new leads. If my Dad’s insurance agency has $1,000 and 3 hours a week to invest is there anybody out there who actual believes their best bet is just make users happy?

I told him to invest in acquiring links from trusted and authoritative sites in his industry. I told him to rewrite and build out the content on his website. I told him to write unique and descriptive page titles and descriptions. I told him to start writing weekly blog posts optimized for long tail keywords. And I told him to have somebody get really good at email marketing.

In short, I told him to do basically the same things that SEOs have been doing for years because that is what works and what makes sense for real SEOs working with real companies. Business owners don’t live in a fairy tale world where great content prints money. Take a look around at Google’s results, especially in highly competitive verticals. Look at what pages are actually ranking for money keywords.

SEO — in all shades — still works.

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