For far too long now, non-SEOs have spent too much of their attention on keywords.
When I say non-SEOs, I’m particularly talking about senior managers at businesses – people in a leadership role.
There’s a focus on rankings, which is ultimately a focus on keywords.
And whilst keywords are important to the success of a website – at least from an organic traffic point of view – they are not the most important assets to attend to.
I propose that you’ll be far better off focusing on pages, rather than keywords.
Here’s what tends to happen when business leaders focus on keywords –
There is initially a push by SEOs to give business leaders a broad awareness of the SEO channel.
This is understandable. The more people in the leadership team in a business, have an SEO-first mindset when it comes to digital marketing, the better off the business will be in their digital marketing agenda.
One of the ways to make SEO awareness forefront with leaders, is to use metrics – tangible metrics.
What is a sure-fire way to get people’s attention in SEO?
Well, it’s of course to show one of the most prevalent metrics in SEO – that of rankings.
Using the metric of rankings means that keywords have to be tracked.
So, the business’s keywords are tracked.
The performance of the business’s keywords are tracked.
And in tracking this, competitors’ performance of these keywords are tracked.
What happens when there are slight changes in the SERPs for your main keywords?
Business leaders are kept abreast, right? They’ll receive, at least a monthly report of how the main keywords are performing – if not a weekly, or even a daily report.
Now, what happens when there is an abnormal shift in the SERPs, when you have a massive drop in rankings?
It’s code red, right?
All hands are on deck to resolve the issue, and to firstly, figure out what the issue is.
What tends to happen at this point…?
Have you pondered the actions that are taken when there is a massive drop in your rankings?
There tends to be an act of desperation that changes SEOs’ focus, from optimising for users, to optimising for search engines.
You see, by having too much attention on keywords, when there is a big enough change in the SERPs, a change caused by an ‘event’, there is a tendency to zero-in on keywords.
This then leads to a desperate attempt to regain rankings for those keywords, and/or attain rankings for new, sometimes, alternate, keywords.
This desperate attempt is SEOs trying to outsmart search engines.
This desperate attempt is SEOs trying to game search engines.
This desperate attempt is SEOs catering to search engines, rather than users.
If the history of search shows us anything, it’s that catering to search engines, on a mass-scale, will lead to further changes in the way search engines behave – reference Panda; reference Penguin.
Desperately trying to regain rankings by focusing on keywords easily ruin pages.
Here’s why I say this…
There is a time element that typically drives the actions that SEOs take.
There is a need to win, and to win quickly.
This is why you hear the phrase ‘quick-wins’, often.
Time is of the essence.
What typically happens, by focusing on keywords, is the pages the keywords belong to are altered for the appeasement of search engines.
In an attempt to rank for keywords, the value of pages tend to be put to the side.
I propose that putting pages to the side, is putting users to the side.
You see, optimisation is improvement.
When you break down the Art and Science of SEO, we’re in the business of simply making improvements.
That’s it! Day in, day out, we make improvements.
Let me ask you – what would you say we make improvements on?
Is it rankings?
Is it keyword performance?
Or, is it the way websites perform for users, users who just so happens to come in via search?
What I’m getting at here is that there is more to optimisation than the ranking of targeted keywords.
The keywords you target are an asset to your business. Yes, they are!
They are not the most important set of assets in SEO.
As important as keywords are, they are not as important than pages.
Pages are the ultimate set of assets you want to be focusing on, when it comes to digital marketing.
When you focus on pages, you have everyone within your business focused on people.
People, as in, those you wish to attract.
People, as in, those you service.
People, as in, users.
When you focus on pages, you have destinations that all marketing channels can drive users to – not just SEO. All channels – even going beyond digital.
When you focus on pages, you have search engines rendered to view your site as a trusted brand that has the best, most appropriate set of pages for the information that it has.
Remember, search engines don’t rank keywords. They rank pages.
By focusing on pages, you display E.A.T. on the topics you cover.
By focusing on pages, you show that users (people) are at the heart of what you do. People, not computers, not machines, not algorithms. People.
By focusing on pages, you remain in charge of what you control – your website.