Everywhere marketers look, it’s SEO this and SEO that. There’s on-site SEO. Off-site SEO. Technical SEO. Blackhat SEO. Whitehat SEO. It’s like:
And we get it. Winning at search engine optimization can be an uphill struggle – the stakes are high, Google is the main bridge between your brand and the people you want to attract on the web, content is king, yadda yadda. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun while talking about it.
So we decided to share some of our favorite SEO memes and, as it turns out, each conveys a rather useful lesson in content marketing.
Lesson 1: Ryan Gosling can get away with keyword stuffing. You can’t.
Keyword stuffing sure is charming when Pretend Ryan Gosling does it. But in pretty much every other circumstance, it’s a recipe for bad SEO.
Google has an algorithm called Panda that focuses specifically on keyword stuffing. It has another algorithm called Hummingbird that uses natural language processing to contextualize users’ search queries.
In other words, Google doesn’t base your page ranking on how many times you use some magic combination of keywords. It bases it on a complex amalgamation of many factors, one of which is your ability to create quality content that meaningfully and comprehensively addresses searcher queries.
Think of it this way: No matter how many times pretend Ryan Gosling says he loves you, you, like Google, are smart enough to know meaningless pandering when you see it.
Lesson 2: Morpheus will liberate you from arbitrary word counts
This one hits particularly close to home for content creators. First, if you want be technical about it, average word length for any given first-page Google result is 1,890 words, according to an analysis of more than 1 million SERPs by Backlinko.
More importantly, word count’s contribution to SEO is nearly non-existent. If you were to analyze the top-ranking pages for any keyword to get an average word count, you would glean one thing from it: content depth.
Content depth is not measured by word count. The word count, rather, clues you into how thoroughly you need to cover a certain topic. It does not mean you should write 1,500 words of fluff, because like we said earlier, Google’s hip to your sweet nothings.
From our experience, writing four 600-word blog posts a month is merely a matter of convenience in terms of spacing out a content posting schedule. But if you really want to improve your blog’s search engine ranking, take the red pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes. Find out the average word length for the top-ranking posts for a particular keyword, and use that word count to understand content depth.
Lesson 3: Macabre advice from Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega
Sad, but true. The first page of results accounts for about 95 percent of web traffic. The remaining 5 percent is split among all subsequent pages. It seems few of us bother to scroll past the first page for information, and those of us who do probably don’t go past page two. I, for one, just rephrase my query at that point.
And Google probably has something to do with that. Its enhancements to local SEO listings, its featured snippets, product page listings and so on are intended to give users what they want on the first page. The rest is just a long list of pages that didn’t make the cut for that keyphrase.
So what does this mean for you? Target keywords carefully. Precision, not scattershot tactics, win the day. Identify the keywords and queries your audience is searching for, and own them.
Lesson 4. Fry is onto something here
It’s probably a bit of both, Fry. An XML sitemap lets Google index your pages. It tells search engines what pages are important for users. More specifically, it identifies which pages are purely for what Moz calls “utility” and therefore have little bearing on search, and which are “yummy Google food,” or pages that a user performing a search would feasibly want to land on.
Google cares about both, but where rank placement is concerned, the latter is far more important. It’s your job to make sure your XML sitemap distinguishes the two for search engines.
Otherwise, Google will see a utility page (something like “your order is processing”) and think, “how is this of value to someone searching the web?” It’s clearly not, and that will affect your site’s ranking.
There’s a whole other side to SEO on your site, the technical side. It includes things like your XML sitemap, but also meta tags (data that describes content to Google), alt text and other fun stuff. Beware sitemap errors and other missteps or else “website become unpopular.”
Lesson 5: The hills are alive with the sound of backlinks
These are a few of my favorite things: When great content satisfies searcher intent, when users and other websites link to that content, and when Google sees this and rewards said great content with a boost in ranking.
We’re talking about backlinks. Like the von Trapp children, you want them to be good and you want a lot of them. Google sees these backlinks as signs of a page’s usefulness to users, especially when the backlinks come from credible sources. In other words, spamming every comment board with links to your content won’t move the needle. It would probably do you more harm than good, since Google is forever prowling for spam.
But if industry experts, bloggers with a good following or an online magazine with strong monthly readership link back to your content, then you’ve made it. We just can’t say enough good things about backlinks.
Lesson 6: Don’t be like Lumbergh
Maybe you’re a DIY SEO person who’s under pressure from your marketing director. Or maybe you’re from an SEO agency that’s under pressure from the person under pressure. Either way, there’s a Lumbergh in your life, and boy does it just make you wanna …
Good SEO takes time and a lot of effort post-creation (content distribution, promotion on social media and so on). Writing a few well-researched blog posts that satisfy searcher intent won’t magically bring your website to the first page of Google or transform your recent blog post into viral content. Great SEO needs to be a sustained effort of excellence.
Remember, 70.5 million new blog posts are published every month, and that’s just on WordPress. This is what you’re competing with on a monthly basis.
So yeah, I’m gonna need you to just be a little more patient.
Lesson 7: Captain Picard is disappointed in you
We close this SEO meme post with a very simple reminder: Track SEO success. Yes, this includes your website and blog ranking for certain keywords. It also includes traffic, bounce rate, organic click-through-rate and all of that good stuff.
But remember, you also want to track conversions. And that means actually having some sort of conversion mechanism on your website. For example: How are you generating leads? Do you have gated content or a newsletter subscription that you’re offering on your optimized blog post pages?
SEO is just a part of content marketing; its goal is to get users to your website, but that’s it. You can’t presume those visitors will move deeper into the sales funnel without a nudge. So for the love of Jean-Luc Picard, work to convert visitors into leads and leads into customers and track those conversions.
And with that, we wish you luck in your content marketing endeavors. May your SEO strategy live long and prosper.