Optimizing your website specifically for the search engines no longer works and it’s costing your business time and money. That’s a pretty bold statement—intentionally–because it’s true.

Instead, to rank well for search queries relevant to your business, you should be optimizing all of your marketing efforts for your potential clients.

This is straight from Google. It isn’t new, but unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be making its way around (to agencies or their clients) quickly enough or clearly enough. I’ve pulled out the snippets you need to be most concerned with, but you can see all of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines here.

Quality guidelines

Webmasters who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit.

Quality guidelines – basic principles

  • Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
  • Don’t deceive your users.
  • Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
  • Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.

So how do you compete for your share of business when your potential customers are searching for your services and solutions online?

You have to put great, relevant content on a great, relevant website.

You’ve likely heard of content marketing. In short, the agency industry coined the term ‘content marketing’ because Google said it was the way to gain rankings.

  • Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.

In addition to being the only reliable way to successfully gain favorable positions in Google (because algorithms will ALWAYS change, but at the end of the day, all Google is trying to accomplish with algorithm updates is to serve more useful content to users), it’s smart marketing.

The forced push to making a web experience that’s relevant and useful to users has forced “online” and “digital” marketing specialists s to become more savvy traditional marketers. To effectively gain search engine positions, your SEO agency or consultant needs to fully understand the nuances of your brand and your audience. They have to fully understand the context indicated by the search queries of your prospective clients and develop content that is relevant to that context.

For example:

Search Query—does a teenager who binge drinks need rehab?

Implied Context—I’m a concerned parent or caregiver who isn’t sure if my teenager’s drinking, which I can’t seem to control, requires professional rehabilitation.

Some examples of relevant content for that searcher:

  • Binge Drinking Could Be Masking Other Addictions & Mental Health Concerns
  • Drug & Alcohol Rehab for Teens: Stop Lifelong Addiction Struggles in Their Tracks

If they aren’t asking you detailed, in depth, sometimes uncomfortable questions about your business and your brand–that’s a red flag.

By being the one to educate your prospective customers, you empower them and begin to build trust. Trust is often the key ingredient in a client relationship.

Create content with your users in mind and you should see more qualified traffic coming to your site and converting as clients.