There is no pulling punches in the ever-evolving realm of today’s web. With millions of sites, authors, companies, organizations, and individuals competing for top ranking, one cannot take enough precaution to ensure better exposure to a website.
Companies like Google refine search algorithms, tighten results, and wage war on poor content through constant updates to their search algorithms. From “black hat” link-building services to the masses of spam tactics—you name it, it’s been done in an attempt to fool the search engine elite.
Contrary to many views you will find on search engine optimization (SEO), this article will not detail new “tricks” in which to jump your website’s rankings to the top overnight. Instead, we’ll cover practical, useful, and relevant strategy that can capture your readership and in return, build more traffic and better search engine rankings.
1. Useful, Timely, and Relevant Content
By far, this is the most important part of good SEO. Long before considering what Google looks for in your website, consider what your readers are seeking to find. After all, even if you rank #1 on Google for your top keywords, it makes little difference if readers are uninterested in your content. The goal is to produce what’s interesting and useful on a consistent basis.
Writing with Quality in Mind
When writing articles, quality has to be a main concern. When creating quality content, it doesn’t come down to writing what we feel our target audience would find interesting, but what we ourselves would actually read.
@ThomasDesign That's easy: relevant content.
— Smashing Magazine (@smashingmag) February 15, 2011
The response from a popular online design magazine when asked what has attributed most to their growth to over 300,000 daily readers.
Setting aside top news sites such as The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, online content has become notorious for lacking editorial quality. Anyone can create a blog and start publishing online, free of charge.
This has introduced a new wave of content over the last decade which throws aside all proper editorial requirements—requirements that have been held in high regard by print periodicals since their beginning. So much has this become commonplace, that some of today’s popular bloggers even encourage new bloggers to simply write and leave punctuation to the grammar police.
Your content represents you, your company, or both. While not everyone has professional editors at their disposal, aiming and striving for perfection will become evident to your visitors. Mistakes and typos may still occur, but holding to high standards speaks volumes for the type of work and content you provide.
What does this have to do with SEO?
The better your content, the more likely visitors will recommend your work. Many solid, reputable links will not go unnoticed by the search engine giants.
2. Write for People, Not for Search Engines
Often referred to as “keyword stuffing,” some SEO-crazed sites have been found packing content with keywords in hopes to attain better rankings. The result is often unreadable, or un-human sounding copy.
3. Engage in the Conversation
People are on the hunt for real people. Though this seems like an obvious statement, far too many sites avoid easy interaction with readers. Providing visitors the opportunity to comment on your site or contact you is an excellent start. Better still is informative and helpful responses to those inquiries. This not only shows your site is active, but gives readers an incentive to join the conversation and seek you out as a possible expert in your field. For those more interested in the search engine rankings, this also helps your pages’ content update more frequently; an element Google factors into search rankings.
— ⚡ Nicholas Cardot (@Nicholas_Cardot) February 14, 2011
4. Build Relationships, Not Backlinks
Probably the factor mentioned most in regards to SEO, is the importance of building a large amount of backlinks (links from other sites) to your website. While this is true to a degree, it does not ensure the best rankings, at least, it won’t for long.
Recent updates to Google’s search algorithms are reducing the impact websites provide who have built a reputation for low-quality content. Google has even gone as far as to reduce search engine rankings for major corporations seeking to “beat the system” with a slew of questionable backlinks.
Backlinks that Count
The question is, “should I even take the time to try and build backlinks to my website?”
As mentioned previously, backlinks can make a difference and prove helpful. But far more valuable than this, is a personal connection with readers. One reader with whom you successfully connect is not only more likely to visit your site again, but also refer your content to others. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are just a few ways you can begin engaging your audience and giving them reasons your site is worth visiting.
The backlinks that prove useful are ones that come from genuine interest. Links from other blogs mentioning your site in their articles and posts have the greatest value. Not only because it’s a link Google sees, but one that people see and notice as valuable.
If a well-known, high ranking blog provides links back to your site, you can rest assured it will help your rankings in addition to the value of the content you provide. With anything SEO, it all comes back to the content you provide and how much it’s worth to readers. If it’s useful and relevant, your chances increase that readers will take notice. When it comes to backlinks, quality is the best policy.
Additional Tools and Resources
- Backlink Watch
- Blue Backlinks
- JC Penny’s Black Hat SEO Backfires
- A Purist Approach to SEO
- Six Types of Links You Do Not Want to Build
What Do You Think?
This article only covers the basics of SEO and effective content marketing. What has been your experience? Are there any tips you’ve found useful in your own endeavors? I would love to know your thoughts!