Tired of worrying about how poorly your site ranks in search results? That pesky Google algorithm update getting you down? Well now that an online news publication like The Atlantic says it “no longer cares about SEO,” maybe it’s time we all end the search engine optimization madness too!

At ProActive Communications, it’s particularly important that the sites we build for clients also rank well in search, but the battle can be brutal. So what sorcery is The Atlantic planning to use in order to ignore SEO all together?

“Sixteen months ago we received the same number of monthly referrals from search as social. Now 40% of traffic comes from social media,” said Scott Havens, senior vice president of finance and digital operations at The Atlantic Media Company. “Truly [our writers] are not really thinking about SEO anymore. Now it’s about how we can spin a story so that it goes viral.”

“We’re no longer writing to get the attention of Google algorithms. We’re writing to get you to share it, to digg it.”

Where The Atlantic is wrong:

  1. The Atlantic DOES care about SEO. Optimizing content for social sharing is the same as appealing to Google. Every “Share,” “Like” and “Digg” matters to the Google algorithm. It’s important for any content creator to understand the need for a presence on social, and that a social presence needs to be just as human as the people they are targeting.
  2. We all should be writing for Google AND for people. Nothing new. “content. is. king.” Period.

Why you should care about SEO:

    1. You are not The Atlantic.The publication has already reaped the benefits of SEO, so of course it makes sense to focus on social. Its online properties pull in 13.4 million monthly visitors. Do you bring in that many? Half that? How about a fourth of that? Then you care about SEO.
    2. The Atlantic has over 100,000 Twitter followers and almost as many Facebook fans. One of their recent Facebook posts received 732 likes, 55 comments and 493 shares. Are you seeing that kind of engagement? Then you care about SEO.
    3. Is your audience even on social? Is there a sub-reddit for your topic, and if not, do you plan to create and dedicate time to moderate that group on Reddit? If not, you care about SEO.

The take away from this is—focus on creating content that is appealing to people. Filling articles with keywords is no better strategy than spamming social networks. We should all be building content with the reader in mind, while using SEO as a guide.

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