SEO: It's about the content, stupid: two examples

“SEO” is about content. We tell clients this all the time — although I’m not sure they always believe it. So let’s look at some anecdotal evidence — a couple case studies.

Exhibit 1

First from our own site: We had never really promoted on our site that “SEO” was a service we offer. We decided finally to make this an explicit service offering. So we spent some time writing a new page, carefully explaining our focus and position on how to do this work. We posted it.

Literally overnight, our position in the list of search results on a search for “Eugene SEO” shot from worse than 100 to 64 — and has continued to trend up above 50.

No, we can’t look inside Google’s black box and tell you for certain exactly what happened here. (And in full honesty, there’s no telling this won’t take a sudden drop just as quickly.)

Yet, there isn’t much that changed on our site to explain this jump — except that we published a new page that we think was well thought-out and well researched about “SEO” as we see it.

Sure, we still have some work to do, because we want to do better than 48. But not bad for three weeks or so, and it’s trending in the right direction.

Exhibit 2

OK, let’s move on to Exhibit Two, from a small site for an obituary writing service. This was especially interesting because this site has been live only a few months. It usually takes time to build up some search ranking power. Take a look at this:

Granted the search term “obituary writing service” isn’t a hugely competitive, but going from absolutely nowhere to top 15 in a month is pretty darn good. One thing that happened on the site in the last couple weeks of this chart was the publishing of a superbly well-written blog post on the things that go into the writing of a great obituary. (Yes, full disclosure, it’s my wife’s website, which makes it a great guinea pig for me, especially because she is an excellent writer.)

Of course, we want to keep working to improve the performance of other search terms that might bring people to the site. Being able to look at these charts allows us to know what to focus on next.

In conclusion

Despite the pretty dramatic changes here, I generally think it’s good not to expect miracle overnight fixes. If you are in a much more competitive search environment, it will generally be harder.

So it’s good to gather some data and take a methodical, incremental approach as you work to improve the richness and value of the content on your site.

Sure, there are lots of little things we can do around the edges of a website as we design and develop it — technical things and not-so-technical things — to improve the site’s overall receptiveness to a search engine.

But the heart of what is going to matter is good content. Period. That means finding somebody who can write and helping them produce helpful, useful content that people might actually want to look for and read.

Bob Passaro

Bob specializes in web design and development and copywriting. Before joining Figoli Quinn, he was a freelance web developer, a copywriter at the Eugene marketing agency Cawood, and back in the distant past he was a newspaper editor and reporter. In another life, Bob might have been a bicycle courier – but he settles for occasionally hopping on his bike to deliver boxes of brochures or other items from the printer to a client. He serves on the board of Better Eugene Springfield Transportation (aka BEST) and the Events Committee of GreenLane Sustainable Business Network.

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