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Google has been on a roll with the Penguin and Panda updates—fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your search engine optimization (SEO) and online marketing tactics! Every day, Google is getting better at detecting spam websites and sites that are ranked well using SEO tactics like paid linking, cloaking, etc.
Want to succeed at SEO without resorting to lame efforts at “gaming” the search engines (you are guaranteed to fail, even if it doesn’t happen right away)? Here’s a good way to think of it: today’s SEO world is about quality, not quantity. For example, it’s not about how many links you can get to point back to your site—it’s about how good those links are. One link from a reputable, authoritative website is better than 20 links from a spammy website or site with a domain authority of 2. And although it seems daunting to a lot of people, there are ways to legitimately link build—guest blogging, broken link building, link requests, and even outbound linking (I’ll get into this later in the post—after all, when it comes to linking, this is the easiest for you to control).
What Does SEO Success Look Like Today?
If you started doing SEO back in 2009, well…times, they are a-changin’ (and will continue to, without a doubt). SEO success is different today than it was a couple years ago.
In this post, I’ll talk about ways to dominate at SEO in today’s content marketing world, without pissing Google off. Huge hint: it’s all about authority and the user!
Check out this inforgraphic by Matt McGee:
It all comes down to great, authoritative content and those dedicated to giving users the best experience possible.
In a May 2013 video right before Penguin 2.0 rolled out, Matt Cutts put it pretty well: “We’re doing a better job of detecting when someone is sort of an authority in a specific space—you know, it could be medical, it could be travel, whatever—and trying to make sure that those rank a little more highly if you’re some sort of authority or a site that according to the algorithms we think might be a little bit more appropriate for users.”
Here are today’s SEO success secrets (and they really aren’t so secret—in fact, a lot of your competitors are probably using them already, so it’s time you joined in):
- Valuable content
- Outbound linking
- Social media
I’ll start with this because it’s the most important in my opinion (and no, not just because I’m a copywriter and love to put pen to paper—er, fingers to keyboard). Putting up as many pages of content as you possibly can on your website, even if they aren’t useful to the searcher, is bad and will get your site penalized faster than you can say “Matt Cutts.” Instead, put up content that truly adds value (and Google is waaaaay better at recognizing valuable, quality content than it was even a year ago).
Don’t even know where to start? If you have Google Analytics or another website tracking tool installed, look at pages with low time on page rates and high bounce rates. They probably need to be updated, possibly even removed (depending on how many visits they’ve gotten) or redirected to another relevant page. In short, remove low-quality, low-value content. Having that kind of content on your website is almost a surefire way to get penalized by Google and drop your rankings in all search engines. As Matt Cutts said (in the aforementioned video), “As long as you’re working hard for users, we’re working hard to try to show your high-quality content to users as well.”
This is sort of a sub-category of valuable content, but I think it’s important enough to merit its own section! I know, I know, blogging is so time-consuming (and as a business owner, time is the last thing you have), but I can’t even count all the reasons you should be blogging for your business! Not only can a regularly updated blog drive more qualified visitors to your website, but it can also help you seem more like an authority in your industry (especially “how to” guides, tips, and posts that answer FAQs—be careful about being too salesy and self-promoting). There are some things you should know before blogging, but don’t worry, it’s nothing we can’t handle!
“Why should I link to another website and give them PageRank my site could be using?” If you’ve said this or are asking this right now, stop and listen for one sec. Outbound linking has sort of gotten a bad rap. Linking to a relevant outside source won’t cause your rankings to drop—it won’t hurt your website or have any negative effect (unless you’re linking to ten external websites on every single page or something crazy). SEO is all about natural writing, building a community, and ultimately, giving the user the best experience. Let’s not forget one of the basic rules of SEO—write for the user, not the search engines. If linking to another website is relevant and provides value, or can somehow help the user find what they’re looking for more easily, don’t hesitate to link out. Besides, you may just get a link back!
The signs are everywhere—when it comes to content marketing and building your authority as a business, social media is more important than ever. In fact, I think that in the very near future, social media will actually help boost your SEO efforts and help you rank better (hell, even now, videos on YouTube rank well, as do social sharing, photo-centric websites like Pinterest and Houzz). Even Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan has included “social” as part of the periodic table of SEO success (creative and cool looking…a little jealous I didn’t think of it first). Great content means nothing if you don’t promote and share it! Get your business on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest (if applicable), etc. #SEOwin.
Need SEO Help?
If you want to build up your authority and start killin’ it in terms of SEO, Blue Corona offers the services you need. We have the experience and expertise to help you rank well, increase traffic to your website, and convert those visitors into leads (and nope, we don’t wear black hats here). Contact us today to learn more about our services! Or if you happen to be in the Gaithersburg, MD area, sign up for one of our SEO seminars!
About The Author: Alanna is the Quality Assurance Manager in Blue Corona's Maryland office. When she's not triple-checking websites and content for errors and consistency, you can find her at the gym with her twin sister or urban exploring with her husband.
View more blogs by Alanna Hernandez