Search Engine Optimizing a crap-filled site just makes it a little less crappy

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Search Engine Marketing  |  Worst Practices  |  copywriting  |  Corporate blogging

People often ask me about search engine optimization. In particular, many ask what search engine marketing techniques they can use on their site to "get high rankings."

Inevitably with most of these requests, I find that the site that they want optimized sucks. It's poorly written. It goes on and on in an egotistical way about what the company's products do. It's filled with gobbledygook.

I tell these people that they need to understand buyers and create some great content that people want to consume. That way, they will get high rankings as the search engine algorithms reward the great content.

Usually I get pushback. People say they just want to an agency to "tweak our existing Web pages."

"Sorry," I say. "Search Engine Optimizing a crap-filled site just makes it less crappy." And I go on to give examples of how valuable Web content drives high rankings.

I’m amazed by how some interesting content (a blog post, an ebook, or a web page) can generate high rankings for a tiny company, way above the big famous organizations.

Consider these examples from my own efforts:

A few months ago, I did a blog post about my participation at the Milken institute global conference. This is a big event (over 3,000 people attend), it has been going on for more than a decade, is covered by the business TV networks like FOX Business and Bloomberg as well as dozens of magazines and newspapers, and speakers include Nobel prize winners. This year Arnold Schwarzenegger and Google CEO Eric Schmidt were some of the speakers. Yet my little blog post is on the top page of the search results for the phrase Milken institute global conference.

Early this year I published The New Rules of Viral Marketing ebook. Prior to putting out the ebook, my site and blog were ranked way down in the results for the phrase viral marketing. Now, because of an ebook that has been downloaded 150,000 times, my site and my blog are ranked numbers 11 & 13 out of 4.8 million hits.

My content is ranked number one for the phrase online media room out of 17 million hits.

High search engine rankings are not a result of manipulation. They are a result of excellent content.