Two Kinds of SEO

There are two kinds of SEOs in digital marketing:

  1. SEOs that strive to deliver the best content, website, and user experience so Google wants to rank them first.
  2. SEOs that work to convince Google that inferior content should rank first.

Every SEO falls somewhere along the spectrum between trying to deliver what Google wants and optimizing content.

Google's Goal

Google's goal for organic search is simple. They want the top ranked result to provide the best answer to your question. If they do that consistently, more people will use their search engine and click on their ads. Google wants to give the best answer and everyday they get better at doing it. Google's supremacy in artificial intelligence has been covered exhaustively. We can skip all that, but it's not just about how powerful their algorithms are now. It's important to know that their algorithms are improving at an exponential rate. SEO professionals optimization skills are not improving at an exponential rate. 

This doesn't mean SEO is hard or impossible. If you're the type of SEO that believes developing superior content that Google wants to rank it first, Google's AI advancements are good news. Google wants your content to rank first.

What is The Best Answer?

The best content for a given search query is whatever the users say it is. For example, let's say 1 million people a month search for "small business lending." If we take those 1 million users and have them rank the value and quality of the top 100 results for that search, the content with the best aggregate ranking is "the best." This is the content that Google wants to rank first. 

Here are some factors that go into delivering the best content:

  1. Accuracy of information
  2. Quality of writing
  3. Supplemental graphics and data
  4. Brand awareness
  5. Brand attitude (positive or negative)
  6. Website design quality
  7. Website user experience
  8. Website load-time and performance

Different searches place more weight on different factors. For example, product searches ("best small business lender") tend to place more weight on brand awareness and attitude. Informational searches ("term vs whole life insurance")  tend to place more weight on the accuracy and quality of the writing. 

Audit Your Competition and Beat It

How can you produce the best content if you haven't looked at your competition?

Do a search for the keyword you want to rank for and look at the top 10 results. How good are the articles? Are they short, shallow articles? Or are they comprehensive and accurate articles with helpful graphics? By looking through the existing articles you can get a feel for where the bar is.

After reviewing the competition, your goal should be to produce something at least 10% better. If you do that, then all of Google's ominous AI advancements are geared toward making <strong>your</strong> content rank higher.