When should you ignore SEO best practices?

You know who got hammered lately?*

Pages and websites that focused exclusively on being a top search result.

You know who’s benefitting from that?

Trusted Experts.

Funny thing is, the Trusted Experts were already winning on search, too. They just didn’t have to sound like robots to do it.

What’s the difference?

Have you ever searched for an answer to something and seen four or five results that all looked identical?

That’s because there is a well known structure for writing rigidly SEO friendly “expert” answers for a topic. It goes something like this:

Standard SEO advice for ranking highly for a given search query is to identify the problem, repeat the problem in multiple ways that people are likely to search for, explain the problem, mention variations on the problem, and on and on and on…

Then, finally, at the bottom, provide the solution to the problem.

The problem with this is that 90% or more of the post is written for the sole purpose of getting it to rank highly in search…NOT to solve your problem!

If it works, what’s the problem?

Because every site trying to rank for that same search query is doing the same damn thing. This only really works if you:

  • do it first
  • do it perfectly
  • or do it better than everyone else

The other problem is that it’s only driving traffic to that one single post on your site.

Meaning, your bounce rate (people leaving after visiting only a single page) is super high. You haven’t given anyone a reason to check out the rest of your content. Google don’t like that.

I still don’t see the problem.

It depends on your goals, and who are you.

If you’re a website, blogger or influencer:

Are you trying to create an audience of fans that come to you for stories and information all the time, to see what you’re interested in because they’ll probably find it interesting, too?

Or are you just trying to capture eyeballs for a specific search query, and don’t mind creating formulaic content for hundreds of other very specific search queries, too?

SEO-driven posts might get you a click now and then, but they won’t build a fan base that enthusiastically follows you and buys anything you sell.

If you’re a brand:

Brands can create informational pages on their site and blog, using the same SEO-driven writing style as bloggers. And maybe they should, because (mostly) brands don’t want to become bloggers or media outlets. They merely want to get the click and the sale when someone’s searching for something specific.

But…brands should look at working with the media, bloggers and influencers who have a passionate fan base. These are the people who have outsized influence AND good search results.


When I’m pondering a marketing play, I often ask myself:

What Would Red Bull Do?

Red Bull didn’t build a rabid fan base by writing authority posts on “What is glucuronolactone and is it dangerous?”.

Rather, they built an insanely profitable, respected global consumer product brand and media empire by sharing tales of adventure and insane human performance.

People actively seek out Red Bull’s content for fun. So much so that Red Bull is able to sell their content, for money! People see Red Bull as an expert in being awesome, so they’re happy to align with the brand, buy the products, and share their stories.

Do you think people are enthusiastically recounting the SEO-heavy, robotic-sounding solution from Bob’s Website? Nope.


*Who got hammered: Google’s core algorithm recently (and dramatically) penalized sites that used “research based” (aka “bullet point copy-and-paste”) guides and stories that weren’t inline with their apparent expertise. So, all those sites that just posted Top 10 lists but didn’t have a focus on making great content around a central theme? Their search rankings plummeted overnight. The lesson? Focus on creating or supporting good, original and creative content that’s relevant to your brand, your products, and your area of expertise…that’s what Google is looking for.

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