Google DragonAre you constantly poked and prodded for keyword ranking reports? Does every whisper of a new algorithm update stress you out? Do you get frustrated by all of the technical tactics that sometimes work, but sometimes don’t? If you could just be No. 1 on Google for your chosen keyword phrases, the leads will start pouring in and you’ll be the hero, right? Drug addicts call this “chasing the dragon” – the pursuit of the ultimate high while experiencing stress, failure and loss.

Chasing the Dragon

Unfortunately, being No. 1 on Google for 20, 50 or even 100 or more keyword phrases alone won’t quench this pursuit, because while you’re eating up time and resources chasing the dragon, your competitors are consistently and continuously developing engaging, problem-solving content. They’re publishing one to three times per day, and it’s being evangelized and consumed across social media networks and being syndicated on several industry blogs.

The Competitive Reality

Over the course of six to 12 months, your competitors' content will start to show up for tens of thousands of long tail phrases on the first page of Google or beyond. Google’s search personalization via geography, SPYW and others will invariably push many of the latter ranking long tails to the top of the first page for many searchers. Referral traffic will begin to rapidly increase, as well. With the help of syndication, referral lead conversion rates will begin to lap conversion rates from search (see charts below).

While you’re stressed out and worried about what Google is going to do next with its algorithm, your competitors are busy planning out their next blog post, video, case study, webinar and whitepaper. So you rank No. 1 for 50 keyword phrases. So what? Your competitors are still cleaning your clock because they’re driving traffic from tens-of-thousands of phrases residing anywhere from page one to page 100 while focusing on solving people’s problems and not Google’s algorithm.

Organic Search Traffic 3yrs

Organic Search Leads 3yrs

The charts above and below clearly demonstrate the competitor scenario described above. Content drives organic search results while simultaneously growing referral results; focusing exclusively on unnatural link building, programming and on-page sculpting doesn’t. An algorithm focus also has no measurable impact on referral traffic.

Referral Traffic 3yrs

Referral Leads 3yrs

How to End the Pursuit

You have to start with new key performance indicators (KPIs). The biggest and toughest metric to give up is rankings. Don’t measure SEO success by where a website ranks on any search engine for any keyword phrase. Instead, focus on how many keyword phrases drive traffic from month to month. Other important KPIs are outlined here.

In order to grow the number of keyword phrases driving traffic from month to month requires publishing lots of naturally written, quality content; the more the better. This produces lots of natural brand signals, social media buzz and natural inbound links to a website. It essentially eliminates most of the technical work previously needed, is much more efficient and produces better results, too.

However, make sure your website is technically optimized out of the gate, develop repeatable on-page conventions and provide content producers with a good list of prudent keyword phrases as topics to write about. After that, the technical side is pretty much done and shouldn't be revisited unless a redesign takes place.


So if you’re tired of chasing the dragon, commit to content marketing and watch your stress levels drop substantially. It’s a great feeling to see the blogosphere freaking out over a new algorithm update and being blissfully content with the knowledge that the update is only going to help good content producers. For help with getting your content marketing program off the ground or to retool an existing campaign, download our newest ebook, The Content Marketing Manifesto.



Image: @WaltWinchel




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Topics: Content Marketing, google+, seo, chad pollitt

Chad Pollitt
Chad Pollitt
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