As someone who deals with content on a daily basis and has a passion for SEO, writing this article gave me mixed feelings.
I’m grateful for Google as a search engine. It has brought millions of people to my sites over the years — traffic that has helped me run my businesses.
But I’m also aware that Google as a search engine has a long way to go and it’s far from perfect.
In some ways, I feel like the internet would be a much more creative space without SEO. You can see it in .
The main problem is that if you want to rank for a specific word, you need to follow that Google is using in their algorithm to determine if your content is worthy. But this might not always match with the users’ search intent.
Take a look at this pie by :
Now take a look at what I want to eat right now.
Yes, a cheesecake.
In order to make a cheesecake, I’m going to need a straightforward recipe to follow.
This is what I expect to find:
Now let's google ‘Cheesecake Recipe’ and see what we actually find in the first page results.
Click on the first result.
When clicking on the first result, I get into a great blog post about cheesecake. But there’s a lot more information on this page than I expected and the recipe is located at the end.
Let’s have a look at the top 20 results on the first page.
Of them, 13 sites have long-form content and 7 give us the recipe quickly. To improve the user experience, most of those that have longer content also have a button that allows you to skip straight to the recipe.
Clearly, the top-performing content is also the more comprehensive long-form one.
This is probably to increase the average time on a page, which makes these sites perform better in the eye of search engines.
The problem is not with the websites on the first page. They all have great content. They rank high because they successfully follow many of Google’s ranking parameters and their visitors seem to read their content, share it, and probably continue to another page.
The problem here is the fact that due to the nature of search algorithms and how SEO works, sites often need to write a lot around a specific topic in order to ‘win’ the competition around a certain keyword.
In my case, I just wanted a cheesecake recipe. I didn't want to learn how to bake a cheesecake in a water bath.
And I wasn’t curious about tips for the perfect cheesecake.
All these articles rank high for a reason. They successfully follow many of Google’s guidelines, which helped them beat their competitors with this structure:
The recipe will most likely be at the bottom of the page to encourage users to spend more time on the page. This is a major factor for search engines.
People aren’t always looking for a comprehensive guide. Sometimes, they really just want a simple list of ingredients and instructions on how to make a recipe.
While Google is doing a great job when it comes to ranking sites and understanding which content is move relevant for a specific search term, they still have a long way to go when it comes to finding the balance between following SEO guidelines and understanding user intentions.
because it tells Google that a website might be an authority in their niche.
But if you’re only looking for a recipe, you’re very likely to skip past all that extra content that Google likes to get and go straight to your cheesecake.
So then we’re faced with a dilemma. Are we writing for the readers or for Google’s algorithm?