Why You Should Focus On Your Reader Instead Of Search Engines To Win The SERP (NOSEO Manifesto)

As I’m writing this, the carnage of Google’s latest search engine update is real. Scenes not unlike the 2008 stock market are all over the place. Content site owners are running around, pulling their hair out, wondering where they went wrong. After all, they followed their SEO plans to a T, researching their keywords, stuffing them at the right ratio and sacrificing a goat to Googleus, the god of search. Why hast thou forsaken me, Googleus?

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Google Update Panic

Google makes constant changes to their algorithms all-year round but every now and then it seems to pack a bunch of fixes and updates together as a major update to throw at unsuspecting content creators. Pushing them out guarantees SEO writers to be all up and arms, pointing and sputtering about how their traffic is down 50% because of evil Google coming for them.

What’s Wrong with SEO

The first problem of SEO is that is’s a moving target. On the one hand, there’s human writers trying to outsmart a machine (the search engine) by writing in a machine-like way. On the other hand you have said machine trying (and accomplishing) to behave in a more-and-more human-like fashion.

But Father, I’m alive. See? And I’m… I’m… I’m real… I’m a real boy!

Pinocchio, 1940 (but it might as well have been the Google search engine in 2022)

This causes a problem because every update your content takes a hit since your SEO articles were written for a machine, not for actual humans.

Since Google now self-identifies as a human it will bump up the content written for actual humans in the SERP, rewarding writers who, shall we say, think about writing actual content instead of making spreadsheets about how many times one should spam a certain keyword.

SEO is the art of humans imitating a machine so they can fool a machine imitating humans.

That’s 100% organically me, you’re welcome

This starts a cat and mouse game where human writers are adapting their content to Google’s algorithm while Google is adapting its algorithm to human writers. Suffice to say, this is a game you can’t win.

It’s also while yours truly is not particularly bullish about AI generated content. Sure, when compared to mechanical SEO it might be great. Keep in mind, you’ve been writing like a machine. It should be no surprise an actual machine beats you at this game.

Great Content Ranks Automatically And Organically

The only way to win is not to play.

War Games, 1983

So why are you playing a game you can’t win? It’s like the Kobayashi Maru in Star Trek. Or the AI in War Games, except this game was never even created in the first place. Google never really intended for writers to use mechanical SEO, it’s a construct these writers created themselves, and now they’re stuck in it.

Dude, you’re not going to beat Google at their own game. Even if you have the brains for it, you still lack the processing power to fool their AI, it’s a sucker’s game.

We need to go back to basics and try to empathize with our readers. Who are they? What are their desires? How can we get them what they want? Actually act like a human amongst other humans, instead of trying to fool a machine.

Well, the article looks like it gives the searcher exactly what they want but it didn’t stuff enough keywords in it so I’ll pass.

no search engine ever

Let common sense prevail: the 80/20 rule for SEO

So am I saying to just ignoring SEO at all and just write whatever you feel like?

Of course not, this is what people would call a false binary, there’s ways to optimize your text that are just common sense, like picking a great title, using paragraphs and headers… Now you might argue well, that’s SEO!

This is common sense writing that existed long before search engines. If you want to call it “SEO too” that’s you prerogative, but let’s agree there’s a clear difference between common sense organic SEO where you optimize text and what I’ve called mechanical SEO where you gather spreadsheets and stuff keywords.

Fact is organic content is ranking better as Google becomes more human-like, making you no longer have to lay awake at night, thinking about Google updates but maybe even look forward to it. Making your readers actually read the entire article instead of skimming trough it and hop on further to other content on your website.

Let’s spend 80% of our time just writing great content and the other 20% optimizing for SEO instead of the other way round.

When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.

Zig Ziglar

Let’s get them, fellow human(-like)s