Browsing through the hundreds of posts in my feed reader, I scroll past countless articles with secret SEO strategies and promises of website crashing traffic. But how do you find the right people that will love your site as much as you do?
It strikes me that the web is nothing more than an adult game of hide and seek, where SEO helps lift things out of the way so people can see where we’re all hiding.
Robert Fulghum in his famous (and fantastic) book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” writes a poignant short story about the kid that was always a little too good at hide and seek, never to be found.
It’s a beautifully simple metaphor for people that are afraid to share themselves, and Fulghum’s memorable last line is encouragement: “Get found, kid!” But it’s not just about being found. Being stumbled upon by your playmates is quite different than being discovered randomly by your next door neighbor. Or is it?
I think there are additional layers to this delicious literary onion that we can apply to SEO. Do we, with our internet graffiti, yearn simply to be found by someone, anyone? It’s nice to think that any pair of eyes is a blessing, a moment to share and connect — but more often than not we know this does not happen. High bounce rates illustrate the sad tale.
So are there rules about when it’s good to be found?
Consider if you will this ‘blog as our case study for the day. The phrase “What is technology?” provides a steady, rich flow of search engine traffic, and this blog is climbing steadily on Google’s first page of the search results.
This is a search phrase an SEO or a blogger can be proud of — the search phrase is relevant, the content is delivered and the customers are happy. The What is Technology? post is the 5th most popular article of this blog, and has one of the lowest bounce rates, too.
Now consider another search phrase, “Jeff Han Microsoft” — people may be looking for his presentations, touch screen technology or even his Wikipedia page, but this ‘blogs article about Jeff Han and Microsoft exploring touch technology is the number one result. While it doesn’t throw as much daily traffic as the aforementioned term, at least not as much as it once did, it is a consistent traffic source, getting us found about once a day.
Then there are search terms like “anal popping,” which we also rank on Google’s coveted first page, for an article about Google Analytics. Now sure, these people may not have found what they are looking for, and may be a bit miffed at the distraction from their real goal, whatever that might be! But, there is a chance they may also be interested in the material on our blog. Or, at very least, you are one step closer to nailing the good ol’ “three touch marketing before something is brought” school of thought.
Now of these three search terms, which would you rather be found by? And guess which ones were carefully crafted by classic SEO strategy and which were simply accidental odd phrases this blog stood out for?
While there is no harm in embracing a funny off-topic ranking, let’s just say any phrase with “anal” in it would not be my first choice. The bounce rate is 100% and has not gained this blog one subscriber. But is there such a thing as a bad keyword? I’d say no — views and presence are always a good thing. But when you work with accidental or lazy SEO, you get what you pay for.
For my time, and this blogs’ success, “What is technology?” is worth the price.
Search Engine Optimization isn’t just something you should idly consider adding to your website or blog, it’s a necessity. Hide and seek is a game of skill, and you must always remember who you are playing with. So get found, kid — just make sure it’s by the ones that play the game with you.