If you’ve read any of David Meerman Scott’s books or his blog, Web Ink Now, you’ll know that rule number one in getting people to follow you is: “Deliver content your readers love!” Everything else is secondary. Create raving fans of your stuff, and the links and money will follow.

Those of us who do SEO for a living (either teaching it in our SEO workshop¬†or working with our clients) understand the tactics to get a page listed on the search engines. When we “eat our own dog food” and optimize our own content, we know what it takes to get results to show up on the search engines like Google. Unfortunately, that knowledge makes it easy to cross a line that can lead to misuse.

Recently, one of our trainers, Beth Kahlich, came across a page on another site that was optimized for the phrase, “search engine academy reviews”. I’m not going to give them the benefit of a link, but you’ll see it in the Google search engine results page (SERP). Mr. McDonald from JM Internet Group has a page that seemingly provides a review about the Search Engine Academy. I have absolutely no problem with that. We have thousands of very happy customers all over the world.

However, when you read the content on that page, it’s a typical bait-and-switch page. He’s luring a reader to his site with the promise of delivering some valuable information (presumably an unbiased, insider review of the SEA). Once the reader arrives, though, they quickly realize that they’ve been had. It’s unclear how old the page is (there’s no date), but he’s hoping people will come to his site and subsequently do business with him just because he provides some pseudo-advice on “questions to ask” the Search Engine Academy.


Mr. Scott even had a recent post, “Do you care more about customers or the competition?” that hits the nail on the head. Why else would you optimize a phrase for your competitor’s company name unless you were worried about it and trying to snag some of their customers?

Give Your Readers What They Want – Great Content!

The headline or title of a page (or video or blog post or any other content) is the most important factor in getting people to read your stuff. If your headline sucks, people won’t bother with the content. However, if your content doesn’t deliver what you promised in your headline, you’re just going to piss people off.

If, on the other hand, your content consistently delivers exactly what you’re advertising in the headline, you will enjoy so many benefits:

  • Repeat readers who can’t wait to come back for more
  • Those eager readers will build links to your content from all over the globe (we all know natural links help your rankings!), which further increases readership
  • Social media mentions which increase your readership yet again, which of course increases links
  • Hopefully, some of that turns into sales

But it’s not the traffic or the click from the search engines that’s going to generate the sale. It’s the trust you build with your readers that will generate the sale. I don’t care if your website generates 100,000 visits a day from the search engines. If no one is buying from you, it doesn’t mean anything. Only when you build rapport and trust with your readers, will they then entrust some of their hard-earned money in exchange for something valuable from you.

It’s very simple: “People buy into you before they buy from you.”

It can take a long time to build that trust with your readers, but it only takes a second to tear it down. Consistently deliver the content you promise, and the world is yours. Violate that trust, and well, you’ll hear a lot of crickets.