In my previous article, I discussed how search engines like Google aim to replicate what a human searcher would like to experience, which has been the foundation of SEO since the early days of the internet.

These are the 5 Rs of SEO: (1) being Relevant, (2) building your Reputation, (3) being Remarkable, (4) ensuring your content is Readable (or with the amount of video content today, it could be called Consumability), and (5) having sufficient Reach and interest to your customers.

Search engine engineers use various signals in their algorithms to make this work. Almost a decade ago, they revealed that they use about ten times the signals for personalization over the links, content, and coding to try and be relevant to the searcher’s query.

However, since the early days of the internet, SEOs and agencies have been enticed by the idea of gaming the algorithms in their favor. They have often prioritized optimizing for the engine over the searcher, a strategy that can lead to significant impacts from recent updates. This approach applies short-term tactics to game rankings instead of a long-term steady strategy to build your brand. 

The challenge many agencies face is focusing on short-term gains rather than building a sustainable marketing ecosystem around your remarkability. They need a foundational strategy to guide their efforts to chase the latest SEO trends, leading to penalties. This approach often leads to disappointment and disillusionment with SEO. Many agencies confuse business owners by spewing all kinds of technical terms. This confusion creates fear in the business owners, and gives them a sense that they can’t live without their SEO expert.

Be Careful What Your “SEO” Tells You

A technical SEO consultant, Keith Goode, recently shared with me after completing a website SEO audit: “Some unscrupulous agencies count on smaller businesses being ignorant about SEO. One of my recent clients had difficulty ranking for terms they were well-qualified to rank, but they couldn’t crack the top 10 results for anything with significant search volume. I found that their SEO/WordPress design agency modified the code on the site and had set up all of the client’s pages to send credit for the content to the agency’s domain in the code (using canonical tags). No matter how great this client’s content is, every signal to Google said someone else created it. Sadly, if your pages say that another domain is more authoritative than your own, you’ll never rank well.”

Instead of becoming SEO experts, the key is to focus on creating value for your customers at every touchpoint. By embracing a customer-first mindset and applying the 5 Rs of Search Marketing, businesses can establish a robust online presence that attracts, engages, and converts their ideal customers. Remember, search engines don’t hold credit cards; people do. Your people, team, and customers are your most valuable assets.

If you’re considering hiring an agency, seek one that can tell your story more remarkably and knows how to amplify it to reach a wider audience. Your goal for SEO is to be the brand they find first and feel best about whenever they search in your category. When this strategy is combined with an effective overall marketing strategy, you win market share.