Forget Fancy Tools – Nail the SEO Fundamentals

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June 5, 2024

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Forget Fancy Tools – Nail the SEO Fundamentals

Forget Fancy Tools – Nail the SEO Fundamentals

Ah, SEO. The buzzword that strikes fear (or joy) into the hearts of millions each year. Well, is SEO dead, finally? No, but there’s a lot more nuance to this one.

For well over a decade, SEO was like the early days of the gold rush for bloggers, startups, and creators of all types. Without much knowledge or experience, you could pretty quickly get the hang of this whole “rank my content high in Google search results” thing.

Times have-a-changed, my friend. SEO has gotta be one of the greatest love-hate relationships of the 21st century in Internet-land. And here we are in 2024, navigating increasingly dramatic updates to Google’s search engine algorithm, seeing the proliferation of generative AI, and even the presence of AI in search results via Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) amongst others, answering some queries on the fly.

The old ways of SEO strategies & gimmicks that attempt to game the Google search algorithms of the world, is dying faster than ever. However, the best SEO game you can invest in today—producing ultra high quality content that actually solves real problems for people—is here to stay, and doing better than ever. So, is SEO dead? Not if you’re doing it the right way.

The “New” SEO Landscape

For the past 12 years, I’ve been running this blog. I get anywhere from 200,000 to 600,000 monthly readers, almost entirely from organic search (SEO is my jam). I’ve been hired by dozens of the world’s top startups and Fortune 500 brands, to plan, implement, and recover organic traffic growth initiatives. So, I keep my finger close to the pulse on SEO.

It’s time to grab your favorite snack and buckle up, because we’re diving deep into the nuance of this complex topic. And let me tell you, while SEO is still very much alive and thriving—it requires a shift away from the “old ways” of doing things.

Now, let’s explore all the ways SEO is changing today and how you can position yourself for long-term success as a creator.

Embracing AI-Powered Content Creation

When I first started blogging, I couldn’t afford fancy tools. That sucked. And that’s why I’ve built a stable of powerful free blogging tools ranging from keyword research to an AI article writer, blog idea generator and more. Forever free for all to use—no strings attached.

Remember the good old days when keyword stuffing was the holy grail, and Google’s algorithm was seemingly easy to manipulate? Those days are long gone, despite the anecdotal examples to the contrary that’ll always exist (usually on extremely high authority sites that’ve been around for a long time).

Things like high quality backlinks still matter in boosting the authority of your website as a whole (and on an individual post/page level), but much of what “worked” in the past decade, is shifting in a big way.

Here’s a checklist of how to think about old SEO vs new SEO:

Old SEO New SEO
Keyword stuffing Genuine, human-centric content
Link schemes Natural, high-quality backlinks
Quick-win tactics Long-term, sustainable growth
Technical optimizations User experience & engagement
Thin, generic content Deep, expert-level analysis

SEO isn’t dead in 2024; it’s evolving. With search algorithms becoming more sophisticated and user-centric, traditional SEO tactics are giving way to a more holistic approach focused on providing valuable content and enhancing user experience. Adaptation is key to staying ahead in this dynamic landscape.

The “New” Content Flywheel

Here’s the deal—SEO is far from being dead. What SEO is and how we do it in the age of AI, is transforming rapidly today. At a time when even my own free AI article writer can churn out a pretty great first draft blog post in just a few seconds, the real challenge is learning how to create content that actually connects and resonates with real humans.

We’ve long been in a race to the top, but the stakes are getting higher. Average content is falling by the wayside faster than ever—and being replaced by blog posts, podcast episodes, and videos that actually make people feel seen, heard, and understood. The goals of content creation are no longer as easily tied to conversion as they once were.

Instead of expecting a blog post or landing page to immediately convert someone new to your blog, brand, or show—into an excited customer on that first interaction, aim for these objectives:

  1. Capture attention and build awareness
  2. Establish trust and authority
  3. Cultivate meaningful relationships over time

We’ve all felt how a 100% AI-written article feels. When a creator publishes an AI-generated article without personalizing it and weaving in their own genuine take, it feels to the reader like they’re being served microwave meals at a gourmet restaurant. You might be full, but where’s the love? The flavor? The spark that turns a meal—errrrr content—into a true experience?

The new SEO is cultivating your ability to create experiences that move readers, and still nail the basic fundamentals of on-page SEO that’ll set your content up for long-term success. Let’s run through a few of the ways you can strike this balance today.

Leveraging AI Tools (the Right Way)

So, how do you really win at SEO in 2024? Well, there’s no ignoring that AI writing tools are changing the ways we create content. So, rather than resisting it, view them not as an enemy, but as an assistant in the creation process.

A new AI blogging process can speed up your workflow, but the secret sauce—my friend, is and always will be you. Your own lived (human) experiences, learnings, stories, insights, and unique voice are irreplaceable. This is what breathes life into your content, and leads to people spending more time with your creations. This, in turn, makes search engines like Google and YouTube notice that your content is more engaging than others in your space.

This is the new content flywheel that creators are using to build meaningful relationships with people, today:

  1. Be unapologetically you
  2. Leverage AI tools to amplify efficiency
  3. Inject your genuine insights & experiences
  4. Nurture relationships with your audience
  5. Repeat the loop for compounding growth

Like it or not, the truth is that content has become a commodity today. Our social feeds are flooded with creators trying to reach new audiences and capture attention—and the best way to stand out, is by embracing your weird. Lean into expressing your personality, be goofy if that’s who you are, share openly from your heart and you only stand you gain.

The new content flywheel starts with being unapologetically you. Share your stories, sprinkle in your quirks, and let yourself shine. I’ll forever be an advocate keeping yourself front & center in your content creation process.

However, dismissing the incredible advantages of AI tools is a little like refusing to use your GPS when you’re lost in the woods, just because you’re nostalgic for paper maps. Nostalgia is great, but I’d rather get to where I’m going than spend hours lost in the wilderness.

AI can help you be more efficient, cutting down the time investment on tasks that don’t bring you as much joy—so you can focus on what matters most—injecting your insights, expertise, heart, and soul into the content you create.

Here are some of the best use cases for AI tools in our modern content creation process:

  • Keyword Research: Quickly identify high-volume, low-competition topics to create content around.
  • Ideation & Brainstorming: Generate fresh blog post and content ideas to keep your editorial calendar full.
  • First Draft Creation: Leverage AI to produce a solid starting point, then add your unique perspective.
  • Content Optimization: Analyze your content for readability, SEO best practices, and more.
  • Outreach & Promotion: Automate outreach to build backlinks and get your content in front of new audiences.

Inside MCR SEO, we’ve built tons of AI-powered tools for creators to better research, plan, create, and promote content. These are the tools I wished I had when I was first beginning to blog.

Mastering the SEO Fundamentals

All of this beautiful (true) sentiment aside, here’s where things gets real—the basics of SEO still matter. The nitty-gritty stuff very much has a place in content creation.

I have some extremely in-depth guides on an overview of SEO for bloggers, and a detailed breakdown of on-page SEO fundamentals worth checking out. These deets include things like:

  • Optimizing title tags, meta descriptions, and header elements
  • Crafting high-quality, keyword-rich content
  • Improving page speed and mobile-friendliness
  • Structuring your content with schema markup
  • Building an internal linking strategy

Then there’s also what’s called off-page SEO. This is where things like backlinks, guest blogging, social signals, and the power of networking with other creators who are game to share your content with their audiences, comes into play.

SEO isn’t a “set it and forget it” kinda thing. If you want sustained (free) traffic from search engines like Google, it requires nailing all of these fundamentals, constant monitoring for fluctuations, and the willingness to pivot your content when necessary.

Keep an eye on your analytics, watch how your content performs, and don’t be afraid to tweak things. Flexibility is the name of this game.

The Bottom Line

So, is SEO dead? Far from it. However, SEO has evolved into a more sophisticated, highly nuanced, and less technical game than it once was. The foundation of SEO now craves genuine, heart-felt content first, with a smaller dose of the technical bits thrown in.

And while the proliferation of AI tools will no doubt continue to change the ways we create content over time, don’t lose sight of the real reason we’re drawn to learn from other people (creators like you)… for the genuine human connection we feel along the way.

So, remember why you’re here—to connect, share, educate, entertain, and make your corner of the Internet uniquely yours. I’m a blogger, but I’m not my blog. I am not my business either. Occasional podcaster and very-much-recovering side project addict.

Co-Founder at MCR SEO. Join me here, on ryrob.com to learn how to start a blog and build a purpose-connected business. Be sure to take my free blogging tools for a spin… especially my wildly popular free keyword research tool & AI article writer. They rule.

Somehow, I also find time to write for publications like Fast Company, Forbes, Entrepreneur, The Next Web, Business Insider, and more. Let’s chat on Twitter (X?) and YouTube about our feelings (and business, of course).

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