We focus so much on "getting found online" that we forget the most important aspect of search, aligning the interests of searchers and search results. If you're a searcher you want to find the best results that really match the intent of your search. If you're a website or blog, you want people finding your site who are really interested in what you have to say or sell. Why is it so hard to match the needs of the surfer and the surfed?
We the publishers worry too much about the general problem of online visibility and too little about "fishing where the fish are". We try to optimize our pages on keywords that we think are the most likely to draw in large amounts of traffic. Never mind that many of these keywords have little or nothing to do with our real business. For example, we worry too much about the keyword phrase "inbound marketing". Sure, we provide inbound marketing services, but we don't create software or host conferences or any of the myriad other subjects associated with this phrase. We want people to find us who are looking for "inbound marketing services", so that's what we ought to focus on, right? So what if we only get 10 visits a month on that search? If one or two of them convert to customers, we're in business, literally.
We worry so much about on-page optimization that we destroy our content. Yep, we do this too. Guilty as charged. If your blog reads like a bunch of keywords, where's the meaning? Where's the art? More importantly, who's going to enjoy your blog enough to subscribe to it and come back for more? What do you think of blogs that are loaded with obvious keywords and tons of internal links? That's what I thought, you move on as quickly as possible and curse the author for wasting your time. What's the goal of publishing? Who are you trying to reach and how well are you communicating your ideas? These should take precedence over keywords and links, SEO or no SEO.
We stress over SEO results. Yes, we all do this. It's completely insane. If your website is for business, it's all about leads and customers, not about uniques and Google page rank. You can have the most traffic in the universe, but if you're not getting lots of repeat visitors who convert to leads and customers, why bother? What's the point? A better strategy is to look for relationships, not statistics.
The good news is that all of this can be fixed just by thinking about your strategy and making real changes to your approach. Think about your customers. What do they want and how do they find you online? Don't know? Ask them. Study the ways your customers find you via search and focus on those keywords and phrases. Forget about the shotgun approach. Next, focus on providing great content. Lose the mechanical SEO-rich style and get real. Finally, relax and work the relationships, not the data.
I'm expecting scathing comments from all you SEO's, so bring it!