Written by Aaron Rains March 26th 2024

I was asked a question recently that made me think about how difficult it must be for small business owners who want to learn how to work on improving their search presence.

This question made me realize that much of how a new person learns “how to do SEO” is based on understanding standard practices formed before AI was the primary driver of Google’s ranking determination.

We are taught to create comprehensive content, make it technically sound, and then build links to it.

This is old-school SEO.

I’m going to share some thoughts on how SEO has changed. Then, I’ll share how I’d lay out a strategy for this site that asked me this question.

“How to do SEO” has changed.How does seo work

If I Google “how to do SEO,” I see Google’s SEO starter guide ranking first, as it should! This guide was recently updated and is so good. It is mandatory reading (and should be studied) for anyone who does SEO.

Google walks us through what is essential: Make sure Google can find your content and organize your site well, and then they tell us that the most important thing is to make our site interesting and useful.

“Creating content that people find compelling and useful will likely influence your website’s presence in search results more than any of the other suggestions in this guide.”

They advise understanding how your audience searches, linking to relevant resources, adding images and videos, and even promoting your site to others via social media, community engagement, advertising, and word of mouth.

This sounds like an excellent plan for SEO to me.

Yet, if you read the rest of the results on the search page for “how to do SEO,” you will be taught things that are not necessarily wrong when it comes to improving a website’s chances of ranking, but also not things that make your site attractive and functional—the very thing Google wants its systems to reward.

You’ll find advice on making technical SEO improvements to help improve your rankings. Again, these are correct to work on. Some sites can gain excellent advantages by improving technical SEO aspects. However, technical changes often do little to improve how helpful and reliable your content is genuine.

You’ll see a lot of the importance of content, much of which speaks of keyword research. I would argue that the vast majority of keyword research done by SEOs results in producing content that is unoriginal and lacking insight—perhaps slightly more comprehensive than what currently exists online.

Researching to determine what others have written so you can write something a little better rarely results in content that meets Google’s recommendations. 

Doing SEO has changed in recent years, and during this March update, we as SEOs have to learn to adjust how we help go about executing an SEO strategy. We must be more aware of who’s visiting our website and why. We have to look at the bigger picture. Does my website offer unique features or content that is new to our industry or niche? If you start taking this approach, your organic website traffic will increase as visitors engage with your content.