(SEO Raleigh Ruins Everything Raleigh, Durham, NC)
RFF is still a young agency (started in 2011) and yet I have seen so much change in the thought process around SEO and digital content. Digital marketing is in a constant state of rapid evolution.
The prevailing thought process on SEO ,when I started learning it in 2009, was to optimize your website pages for primary keywords, and then keep your site "fresh" with new content. The most common way to do this was to blog.
Over time most businesses were convinced of the need to have a blog, but unfortunately few truly understood why. Most were "blogging just to blog." I admit, we did this too. In the early years of RFF we blogged for the benefit of search engines. The blogs were awful, serving only as burnt offerings to the search gods.
It sounds bizarre, but I remember the "push" for marketers and businesses to create content for the human reader, not search engines (#marketerproblems). We loved this ideal and quickly adopted it, but it took a while for us to realize that saying this was not enough.
The idea was that to improve your SEO, you needed other websites linking to your website, and you would use your blog to build links to your site by creating "remarkable content," that other websites would link to or share on social media.
It's great in theory, but in most cases you really have to force the issue and get the links through networking, relationships, or just flat out pestering. Rarely because of the content's merits. And lets be honest, most SMB industries do not come by highly shareable content honestly.
Let Content Be Content
You cannot serve two masters. If you are going to create content, pour your energy and resources into the creative and making it truly engaging, genuine, transparent, funny, or any other natural human traits that are attractive.
If your industry is boring* or over-saturated (e.g. real estate), then use content to connect with people on a human level. Open up, be honest, be real, be helpful, etc.
* Your industry probably isn't as "boring" as you think.
Don't misunderstand me, SEO can be, and usually is, a valuable strategy. But leave it for the nerds (speaking as a psuedo-nerd, so it's cool). Besides, in the rapidly changing world of SEO there is only one over-arching, unchanging principle written in the firmament of Google:
Bring Value to Humans