Is SEO bullsh*t or what?

Many of y’all know that I’m a web monkey – my dayjob is building & working on websites. I’ve been doing this for over 15y and consider myself to be more of a business consultant with some technical skills. I’ve learned a fair bit about SEO along the way.

I started a newsletter on January 21, with the objective of attracting an audience. For ‘SEO purposes’ the newsletter issues are also available on my site (though published a few days after subscribers get them).

A couple of SEO points I picked up during my years – pretty straightforward, basic stuff:

  • Google likes regularly posted content
  • Google likes looooong content
  • Google likes updated home pages
  • Google likes content optimized for key words

My MO for my newsletter has been a stream of consciousness writing, so they’re not very planned out and they’re not keyword optimized.

This is intentional – if I spent the time to properly organize my writing, it can easily take me a whole day. If I wanted to get a newsletter out regularly, I just had to write it within a couple of hours (and on a Saturday morning when I’m not feeling as pressured to be productive).

My newsletter fulfills, like 2 1/2 of the 4 points:

  • It’s posted every Saturday like clockwork
  • The issues are loooooong
  • The home page is sorta updated (the Latest Posts section on the homepage is updated, but it just shows the title & image for posts).

Now let’s take a look at my actual analytics since January 1

is SEO bullshit
Yes, these are my actual stats. No, they’re not very good.

I realize that I have not optimized my content at all on the site (and by optimize I mean targeting a unique keyword with every page & post and then following the content analysis recommendations of my SEO plugin).

But after posting religiously – and posting more content besides my newsletter issues – I expected to see an eventual bump in traffic.

I did not expect to see an overall decline in traffic.

That’s some bullshit right there.

Now I haven’t paid attention to my site in a few months as I’ve been focused on writing stories & newsletters. But I really expected better.

From working with ‘SEO professionals’ (who I’m starting to think are just bullshit artists), regular (aka at least once a week) posts that are optimized for keywords should show an uptick in traffic after 3 months.

As I’ve said, I have not keyword optimized anything here (and I can’t wait for an SEO bro to commen DUH WITHOUT KEYWORD OPTIMIZATION WHAT DID YOU EXPECT), but still: Google really needs to have a term used specifically in multiple spots (title, url, content, at least a couple of headers, in image alt text) to deem content ‘worthy?’

It comes to mind that a corporation whose main income is from advertising would make it harder to find content because that makes it more likely that a business will advertise with them. Facebook is more transparent about how they throttle the reach of business pages because they want to encourage paid advertising, but Google tends to get a free pass for doing the same thing.

(PS Facebook pages are useless – just delete them already. (I did.))

There’s also a major flaw in Google’s thinking: that incoming links are indicative of a content’s value. They invented a metric called PageRank to measure pages, then decided that if content that people link to must be good content and made it a HUGE factor in PageRank.

(I thought correlation /= causation, but what do I know? I’m not playing with VC money.)

So Google made an algorithm – and people figured out how to game it.

Now Google did some good things in the early days, devaluing keyword stuffing (basically excess keywords throughout metatags & content – sometimes hidden in text that uses the same color as the background), helping people find relevant content and stuff. But we’ve come to point where anyone with enough money can take advantage of the algorithm in ways that individuals and small businesses cannot.

I’m no fan of giant aggregator sites. They are anti-competitive and anti-democratic. The promise of the internet was making it easier for Davids to compete with Goliaths – and it did that well, for awhile. But the only way to do that now (unless you want to embark on a long-ass SEO content strategy that might never pay off) is to pay Goliath.

A perfect example is Thumbf*ck (who I won’t link to or spell properly because f them). They paid for both advertising and backlinks to their content to create an aggregator site for people to hire local freelancers & service providers.

Until 2015-ish, I could expect to receive several enquiries a year through my website for potential clients who found me through internet searches. After Thumbf*ck came on the scene, that dried up to zero within 3 years. And the only way to find local clients was … to pay Thumbf*ck for the right to submit a quote – and hope that the client chose me.

Jumping through all these hoops (not to mention paying for them) is bullshit.

And yes, I’m salty af this morning.

I have to do a serious website review – not for Google, but to see how to best serve my audience. Explain who I am and what I do better. Make it easier to find what they’re looking for. Etc.

I might make some subtle changes that could make a difference for the algorithm (probably posting content snippets with the latest posts on the home page, because that is easy to do, one time, in less than 5 minutes). Otherwise Google can go f themselves because I’m not changing how I write my newsletters.

I’m just not a fan of jumping through hoops for megacorps.

My advice to people with small websites & businesses:

Forget about search & SEO, unless you plan on blogging regularly, doing keyword research, and optimizing the shit out of everything you post.

This DOES NOT MEAN getting rid of your website!!!! (read more about digital sharecropping to understand why) It just means not letting search/SEO/Google waste any of your precious time & energy.

PPS SEO bros & marketing bros: don't bother commenting because it's unlikely I'll post your comment (and if I do, I'll delete your backlink first).

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