Don’t Ask the Wrong Questions In Wrong Way

Seeing two articles – 5 Best Practices That Will Help You Rank On Page One Of Google (Jeff Bullas) and How long should content be for SEO (Forbes) – provide vivid “old world” examples of wrong questions. Gone is the time when either of these issues or ideas mattered. It is impossible to manage content or to tweak with technical SEO and achieve Google rank.

These social media influenced noisy days the mob controls what ranks not a cloistered SEO priesthood. The “new SEO” is about winning hearts, minds, and loyalty. SEO per se isn’t unimportant. Bad keyword relevance, body copy, alt-text, or title can hurt content and web page rank. There are no magic bullets, no five tips to assure position.

Content must be part of a consistent organic experience because love is hard enough. I don’t know a marketer capable of manipulating content to achieve the links, likes, and love needed to win hearts, minds, and loyalty and the Google rank that follows. Websites who inspire include:

    • Tom’s shoes buy one, give one program
    •’s commitment to the environment and rich customer collaborations
    • Nordstrom’s Fashion Rewards

Love, Loyalty, and Loss

Teilhard de Chardin was right. We aren’t humans on a spiritual journey but spirits on a human path. Eventually, real human feelings, emotions, and failings rise to the top of the Internet. The web may seem like a sludge bucket. It is not. Shiny things distract but don’t hold our loyalty or love nor earn the advocacy necessary to scale, survive, and thrive.

Customers don’t care about SEO. Customers have lives, children, hopes, and dreams. When your website, products, and content connects with customer’s hearts, minds, and experience connection happens. In an age of plenty, We buy from those we love. And we tend to love those who have empathy, humanity, and who “love” us back. Creating an authentic voice is all but impossible when asking the wrong questions in the wrong ways.

Listen More, SEO Less

Both posts, with deference to Jeff Bullas since he writes great tips usually, suggest content can achieve something a priori. Content in and of itself has the power to rank or the power to manipulate rank. Used to be true not so much anymore.

Google is a huge content, ideas, and marketing voting booth. Links are votes, but not all voters cast one ballot. Some “trusted” citizens (websites, companies, individuals) have POWER. Earn the attention and advocacy (links are an expression of advocacy) of a power voter, or two or three and rank happens.

Thinking you will win love from these “uber” trusted and SEO sophisticated players with technical tweaks and long or short content are spitting in the wind. If there is no there there in your content it won’t inspire, wow, or earn links, love, and loyalty.

So How Do You Create Great, Inspired Content?

Don’t think about content as content. Your website’s voice must look, sound, and be “like you.” See why tweaking keywords into your copy can do more damage than good? How can your voice be an authentic expression of your values, beliefs, passions, and loves when it is more worried about how many times you’ve used a keyword? 

Jeff’s tips are all helpful and valid.

  • Technical SEO Optimization
  • Design and User Experience
  • Quality Content
  • Trust Signals
  • White Hat Link Building

Our problem isn’t with the truth of these tips. We don’t agree with the priority or slant. Quality Content is #1 for us since all good things flow from inspiring “wow” content. Instead of starting with keywords we suggest starting with a story. Keywords sound like a “how” and we agree with Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why.

Starting with keywords makes it sound like you can write great, inspiring, authentic stories from the outside in. Hasn’t been our experience. We do keyword research to listen to the mob. Vox Populi, Vox Dei (the voice of the people is the voice of God). “Listening” via keyword research helps break, change, and eliminate “marketing speak.”

Don’t Speak To Yourself About Yourself

The kind of Type A entrepreneurs who create things have a chorus running in their heads all the time. That’s okay, but Vox Populi, the voice of the customer. needs to jump in there too. Breaking into the chorus in your head is why reading in general and Simon Sinek’s Start with Why in particular is so important. The web is a conversation, an awkward, time delayed and confusing conversation but a give and takes non-the-less.

Tweaking keywords or writing long or short copy to curry favor starts the conversation badly. Better to write a minimal framework, encourage and ask for collaboration, and reward and value contributions when they arrive. But we understand where the SEO confusion comes from – the olden days.

Back in the day, say the early 2000s, it was possible to technically win rank. When there are about 10x as many websites connected to huge social media platforms and cross-indexed with an infinite amount of similar or better content you won’t be tweaking your way to fame and fortune.

Do all the tactics Jeff suggests but do so from a different perspective. Prioritize your story, your “why”. Leave room to listen, evolve and collaborate with customers, stakeholders, and advocates. Write as many or as few words as needed to connect, inspire and wow your visitors, potential customers, and returning buyers who already love what you’re doing.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]


  1. Filip Zafirovski September 7, 2017 at 9:04 am

    Insightful article, thanks for the share.

    But I wanted to ask you, can you come up with a scenario when you have to listen less but SEO more?

    Kind regards,

  2. Martin Smith February 4, 2018 at 3:10 pm


    I was trying to convey a simple yet complex idea – listening to how customers engage with a website will help develop content ideas. “Listening” incorporates using Google Analytics to watch important Key Performance Indicators such as time on site and bounce rates. Double down on the winners and leave the losers behind is a great way to tune a website. Will review this post to see how I created the erroneous idea of “listening less”. My bad, but thanks for the feedback. Martin