I just read Deconstructing the Google EMD Update by Christopher Cemper, which does a really good job of explaining the EMD (exact match domain) update Google released about a month ago. A quick explanation for those of you who want it. The EMD update prevents a website from ranking well just because keywords are used in the domain. Many SEOs are smart to do that, but that doesn't mean their website is high quality. In the past, if you used your keywords in your domain, your website would easily rank well. But Google is on a mission to help people find exactly what they want. That means quality websites with good content.
Cemper brings up some great points. One is that SEOs optimize websites for search engines instead of people. Well, my approach is different. This is what differentiates good search engine marketers from bad. Ultimately, we should be optimizing websites for consumers rather than websites. It's not enough to just rank well. That traffic that SEOs are working so hard to increase actually has to convert to the all might dollar, especially for all you eCommerce sites out there. Service oriented websites, you need them to contact you so you can make your pitch. But that won't happen if your website content isn't compelling.
One thing I tell people about SEO is that you have to balance SEO for both search engines and your consumers. You do need to follow best practices and have the basics: keywords in the title, description, and in the content. But you don't need to stuff keywords a million times (total exaggeration of course) throughout your webpage. It needs to be natural because if it's not, yeah Google will ding you. But more importantly, it will turn off your consumers.
My advice is this. It's simple concept, but maybe a little difficult to implement if you're not trained in SEO. Write content for your consumer so they'll convert using keywords as naturally as possible. Remember that you don't have much time (4 seconds or less) to make that first connection with viewers. Your content needs to be convincing, providing solutions, benefits, etc as to why your product or service is worth your consumer's ever so precious dollar. You don't need to write a book on your website, but rather a paragraph or two if that. My rule of thumb is around 150-200 words. By the way, product pages need good content too. Don't just use the manufacturer's product description because it doesn't tell people why they should buy it from you. Customize it.
Another point Cemper brings up is how SEOs feel like Google is punishing them. This is my opinion, but that's just ridiculous. Look, our goal is to help our clients...websites improve their online visibility and increase conversions. The way to do that is to produce high quality work. It's not about what WE want or not even what your client wants. It's about what the consumer wants and figuring that out and implementing an SEO strategy. Google is not evil, nor is Google out to destroy SEO. It's about keeping the bad guys (black hate SEOs) at bay and rewarding the good. It's really a simple idea.
Go read Deconstructing the Google EMD Update and if you have questions about this post, send me an email or catch me on Twitter @andreeac_t.