The role of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has changed substantially over the last 10 years. It used to be about “tricking” Google with things like keyword stuffing, meta tags and link building through some very ugly means (such as setting up a server halfway around the world and creating all sorts of back links to your site, making Google think you’re a more popular site than you were.)
SEO today only rewards good content.
Think for a minute about how Google, Bing, or Yahoo makes money. They sell advertising. And you can only sell advertising when lots of people come to your site on a regular basis, which means that you have to be a reliable source for helping to find what people are looking for.
If you’re sending people to sites that are really not very good, but you’ve sent them there because of SEO tricks, then people are not going to come back to your site. They’re going to switch from you to the other search engines, which is why there have been so many changes in the search algorithms in the past few years.
Search engines have a vested interest in helping you find exactly what you’re looking for—and people aren’t looking for sales pitches. They want for rich, meaningful content that helps them solve business problems.
For example, if you have a problem on your computer, do you call Geek Squad, or do you type that exact problem into a search engine? (I’ll assume that it’s the latter.)
When you type the problem in, it’s not going to take you to some company’s website so you can see a pitch about how they can solve this problem. Besides, you’re not ready to hear an overt sales pitch—you’re simply trying to get a handle on the nature of the problem and see how others have solved the same issue. Because Google and others know this, the first page or two in your search results will most likely be blogs and discussion threads on that exact topic. The reason being that organically generated content is much more valuable when it comes problem resolution.
So if someone wrote a blog post on that problem, it’s likely that other people disagree with that solution. And someone is going to comment on the person that disagreed with that comment and offer their opinion, and so on. You may even find a short initial article with a very long discussion thread — when you read that discussion thread, you can figure out how to solve your problem.
After several more searches, you may then end up on a specific vendor’s website and find that you are ready to hear their sales pitch. Maybe someone linked to a tool or software program that solves that specific problem, and now that you understand what the issue is, you’re ready to buy something.
The point of all of this is that SEO today is really all about generating tons of great, high quality, engaging content. There are still tactical things that you can and should do around keywords and backlinks, but they aren’t nearly as important to SEO as they used to be.
Backlinks are still very important, but they must be earned from highly trafficked, quality sites.
So the bottom line is this: if you don’t have good content, you’re not going to get found because Google isn’t going to send people to you in the first place.
Creating that quality content is a different story.
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