It’s Not the Job of SEO to Make a Pig Fly

You can’t make a pig fly. I’ve tried it. I’ve also put lipstick on a pig, and that doesn’t make it any prettier. Of course, I’m not talking about actual pigs … I’m talking about websites.

The ugly truth is that SEO cannot do the impossible. If a site is not functioning well technically or has content that’s irrelevant, optimizing it is merely putting lipstick on a pig. That pig will never fly in search results.

Bruce Clay quote and graphic of pig with wings.

The fundamentals of SEO will always include a well-functioning website and relevant content. Both are required to create a good user experience. And as we know, Google’s primary goal is the user experience.

So, as SEOs, we have a responsibility to help the sites we manage not be pigs. That means maintaining them on a technical level and keeping content current. These are survival tactics in today’s competitive landscape. Here’s why.

An Unmaintained Site Cannot Fly for Long

As we know, Google cares how well a webpage achieves its purpose. Page quality has a lot to do with that. In its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, Google makes it clear that unmaintained sites are doomed sites.

Some websites are not maintained or cared for at all by their webmaster. These “abandoned” websites will fail to achieve their purpose over time, as content becomes stale or website functionality ceases to work on new browser versions. Unmaintained websites should be rated Lowest if they fail to achieve their purpose due to the lack of maintenance.

To put this into perspective even more, a “lowest” rating is the lowest-of-the-low rating on Google’s quality scale:

Google's page quality rating scale (excerpt from Search Quality Evaluator's Guide).

For comparison, that “lowest” rating is given to sites like these:

Websites or pages without some sort of beneficial purpose, including pages that are created with no attempt to help users, or pages that potentially spread hate, cause harm, or misinform or deceive users, should receive the Lowest rating.

In a world where Page 1 of the SERP requires survival of the fittest in an ecosystem that contains more than 6 billion indexed webpages, a “lowest” rating means Google will work to weed that site out of the search results as best it can.

Will some pigs fly under the radar? Yes, but they will eventually need to deal with site quality issues. Once rankings start to fall, traffic erodes. And traffic erosion is a slow death.

SEOs should always be looking at the technical aspects of the websites we manage.

When there’s a gradual traffic decline, we always look at site maintenance issues first. Does the technology need an upgrade? Are there pages that once had high traffic but rankings have declined?

Updates to a site take time. Getting Google to crawl those new updates can take more time. So in many cases, you may continue to see gradual traffic erosion before it picks back up.

So Don’t Put Lipstick on a Pig

The best course of action is to avoid ranking and traffic problems altogether. SEOs should always be looking at the technical aspects of the websites we manage. Are they fast enough? And do they create a good user experience?

Also, creating more and more content but ignoring old content is a surefire recipe for problems.

Every business should delegate half of its content budget to maintain existing content, not just create new pages. That goes for core webpage strategies like siloing, too.

Today, we are focused on quality, not necessarily quantity.

As an SEO, having these conversations with our clients is our duty. It not only points clients in the right direction of SEO, but it also sets expectations.

When necessary, we have to be able to say, “This website needs a redesign.” Or “We’re not going to rank if we ignore site maintenance.”

Yes, these conversations can be difficult, and in some cases, they may impact our business. But it’s much more difficult to make a pig fly.

If you’d like an SEO expert to identify issues holding your website back, let’s talk.

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FAQ: Why should businesses prioritize quality over quantity in content creation?

Many businesses are caught up in an intense race to create content, hoping to stay ahead of their rivals. While quantity may seem appealing, quality should always win out over quantity.

The Quality-Quantity Conundrum

While it might seem tempting to flood your audience with many content pieces, it’s crucial to understand that quality content can significantly outperform quantity in the long run. Search engines and discerning audiences favor well-crafted, informative, and engaging content. When your content stands out, it attracts more organic traffic and builds trust and authority in your niche.

Building Brand Credibility

Prioritizing quality is crucial to your brand’s credibility. High-quality content showcases your knowledge and dedication to serving your audience. In contrast, low-quality or hastily produced content can damage your brand’s reputation, leading to mistrust and reduced customer loyalty.

Audience Engagement and Retention

Engagement and retention of your audience depend directly on the quality of content produced. If it resonates, people will return for more. Engaging content sparks discussions, encourages sharing, and fosters a sense of community around your brand, ultimately leading to higher customer retention rates.

Avoiding Content Fatigue

Producing content for quantity can lead to content fatigue, where your audience becomes overwhelmed or disinterested in the sheer volume of information. Engaging and educational content ensures your target audience remains responsive and responsive to it.

Return on Investment (ROI)

In the realm of content marketing, quality often yields a better ROI. While creating high-quality content may require more time and resources, it pays off through increased conversions, higher customer lifetime value, and improved search engine rankings.

The age-old wisdom of prioritizing quality over quantity in content creation remains a strategic business imperative. By focusing on crafting valuable, engaging, and informative content, you not only enhance your brand’s credibility but also foster audience loyalty and achieve a better return on your investment.

Step-by-Step Procedure: Prioritizing Quality Over Quantity in Content Creation

  1. Define your target audience and their preferences.
  2. Research your niche thoroughly to identify trending topics and gaps in content.
  3. Develop a content strategy that aligns with your business goals.
  4. Create a content calendar to plan and schedule your content.
  5. Invest in quality research and data collection for your content topics.
  6. Ensure your content is reliable, current, and thoroughly researched.
  7. Paying attention to readability and structure is vital.
  8. Craft compelling headlines and introductions to capture the audience’s attention.
  9. Incorporate visuals, such as images and videos, to enhance engagement.
  10. Prioritize originality and uniqueness in your content.
  11. Proofread and edit your content to identify errors.
  12. Optimize your content using SEO best practices.
  13. Use multiple marketing channels to distribute and market your content.
  14. Monitor the performance of your content using analytics tools.
  15. Gather feedback from your audience and adapt your content strategy accordingly.
  16. Keep your target audience engaged through social media and comments.
  17. Establish relationships with influential figures and collaborators within your niche.
  18. Stay updated with industry trends and adapt your content strategy.
  19. Constantly strive to refine and enhance the content quality.
  20. Content marketing can help increase the return on investment (ROI) and effectiveness.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

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5 Replies to “It’s Not the Job of SEO to Make a Pig Fly”

Hey Bruce! This is indeed a good article. I’ve come across many clients as well who sometimes doesn’t understand much about how SEO works and demand for Rank #1 position in a month.

What you said is actually correct. Without technical SEO it is not possible to rank a website on Google no matter how much content the site has. I too strongly believe that it will be greatly beneficial to focus on update the existing content with adding more relevant information.

Great blog, I like your blog and I shared as well on my social page. And you are right we need to focus on quality rather than quantity of blogs.

Hey!, I’m so happy that I found out your blog, and your blog is the best SEO I’ve ever seen on the web. Thanks for the points shared and I look forward to knowing you better because I really need you to help. Thanks

SEO is a crucial part of any website. If you work on SEO correctly, then definitely your website will rank. But if you didn’t work in a proper manner then you are just time pass on your website.


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