What’s so bad about one-size-fits-all SEO?

Short answer: Everything. 

Long answer:

The era of “one size fits all” SEO is over. We have shamed “cookie cutter” SEO strategies as early as 2013, but rarely do SEOs consider where the shortcomings of “cookie cutter” strategies truly lie. En masse, SEOs enthusiastically accept basic optimization principles: content, website & data must be catered to the business type or industry you are working with, and as long as you have a product to show your client, you have nailed the basics. However, your SEO strategy and final product do not generate value-of-itself, and they are not continuing sources of ever-deepening value. Your SEO has no value just because it is “optimized”, and it certainly has no value just because you were paid to do it. Too many SEO strategies focus heavily in one field like algorithm-friendly content or search-appeasing listing saturation over targeting value at its source. This causes SEOs to foolishly (with best intentions) omit the truly value-generating portion of successful SEO strategies. Your SEO value is not in the content you post, the meta-data you write, or the website template you use: the value is and always will be in your audience.

“Why should your SEO strategies rely so much on the bankrupt notion of a standardized audience?”

Optimizing for the right audience is a crucial factor for audience-driven SEO, but it’s among one of the most difficult things to pin down. Great SEO strategies insist on getting to know your audience because that is where the value is. The true value of your strategy is in the real people you can subtly entice into clicking, calling, or learning more. Research shows that we continue to rely on the internet for almost everything in our lives: information, entertainment, communication, and a lot more. Internet trends live and die based on the audience they entice to click, call, or learn more, so your SEO strategy must focus on the audience you hope to reach. Catering your SEO strategy to an algorithm, as opposed to an audience, will not take you where you want to go.

SEO Strategists in the USA work primarily with Google users, but too many SEOs still take a “standardized user” approach when optimizing for their audience. We should never appeal or write for a standardized audience because, to put it crudely, a standardized audience just does not exist. We fall into a habit of generalizing our audience before we consider the linguistic nuances, search habits, and other readily available data like income distribution in the area we are trying to optimize for.

We write, update, and create content based on a standardized audience, but Google-user data consistently shows that our interactions with the web are unique and vary from person to person. So much so, in fact, that there are more data-points about our daily interactions than Google knows what to do with. Our search history and habits are anything BUT standardized, so why should the SEO strategy we craft spend so much time on the bankrupt notion of a standardized audience? Too many SEO strategies forsake precision for inclusivity by churning out standardized copy, AI-generated meta-data, and stale templates. Instead, we should focus on our audience in tandem with the desired outcomes of the business we work with and target the unique qualities that bind the two entities together. A great place to start is, you guessed it, at trying to figure out your audience.

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Jakub Niedzwiecki

Jake’s SEO career began in 2018. He has worked with and developed unique strategies for over 100 companies. He cannot say with certainty that his English degree from Colorado State University helps or hinders his SEO style, but it at least taught him to type fast and think with prose, style & user-experience. In his free time, Jake likes to read contemporary fiction.

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