It’s been almost a year since Google sent shock waves through the world of internet marketing and served a serious reality check for many formerly top-ranked websites. Twenty-four Panda updates later and the stand-alone practice of search engine optimization is quickly being replaced by content marketing.
Although the initial Panda updates sent the so called “SEO Experts” scurrying and penalized some very large websites, as long as you are consistently adding content of value to your website which in turn generates social sharing, comments and incoming links, you have nothing to worry about now or in the future. In fact, the continuing changes to the Google algorithm are designed to reward sites such as yours.
Think Like Google
To understand the Google updates it is important to think like Google or better yet, the Google user. Google is in the business (at least primarily) of helping people find information on the internet. Google users searche for information and Google does their best to provide the information their users seek. They are not out to harm or penalize publishers or website owners. Their goal is to provide the best possible search result possible. Fail to do so too many times and users will move to a search engine that does provide the results they seek.
Google Isn’t Out to Penalize Websites
Google doesn’t penalize websites. They change algorithms that fail to provide the desired results. Unfortunately, until recently gaming Google had become big business. As a result, SEOs who were able to successfully take advantages of loopholes in the Google algorithms could temporally move websites to the top of the search engine rankings. Problem is, there are only so many spots on the front page of the Google search returns and for every website that succeeded by gaming the system, quality content got pushed down. When Google corrects a glitch, it is often the “black hat” SEOs who rely on shortcuts that scream the loudest.
The good news is that it is getting harder and harder to play SEO games. Google wants to serve up the information their users seek and the most important thing you can do to find favor in Google’s eyes is to provide it. Once you do, promote it.
Determine what your user needs and provide it
When your ideal customer goes online to search for information, what do they seek? What questions are they asking? Create blog posts, videos, infographics and other content that provides that information.
Stumped for ideas? Look around your business. What questions do your clients or potential customers ask? Talk to your sales people. What problems do they run into when talking to clients? Could you create a video or “how to” guide that solves their problem? Do you solve a problem that other’s can’t? Let the world know — not only that you can do it but how you do it.
Don’t worry about giving away too much information. Show them the process. Give them a peak behind the curtain. Chances are ideal client doesn’t have the time or resources to do it themselves or they will need an expert to help.
You can still use keywords
Yes, keywords still matter but everything in moderation. The days of stuffing posts and meta tags with keywords are long over. Google caught on to this long ago and the overuse of keywords can actually hurt your search engine rankings.
Instead of stuffing keywords, write your post around one keyword or idea. Ideally, these are the key words your user will use when searching for a solution to their problem. If you really want to optimize for the keyword, write a series of posts around the key word and index them all in a table of contents style post linking to each individual post. You can see an example of an index post here: “How to Write a White Paper.”
Keyword research is also a great way to brainstorm blog post topics.
Encourage social sharing
With each Google update, social sharing is playing a bigger and bigger role in the search engine results. On the user side, the Google search results now factor in the users personal network. Google also sees +1 and Tweets as social recognition that the content on the page is of value. This means that sharing buttons should be obvious and easy to use. Don’t be afraid to encourage sharing also. Experiment with different social sharing buttons and designs to see which work best. Ask users to Tweet, “like” or +1 your best posts.
Seek Quality Backlinks
Google has always incorporated websites linking to a webpage in it’s algorithm. However, backlinking was one of the biggest areas where SEOs manipulated the search engine results. Before the Panda updates, “link farms” and link wheels and other forms of low quality back links were often used to move a website up the search engine rankings. Links coming from low-quality websites and obvious attempts to manipulate the rankings were the reason many websites were moved down the rankings when the first Panda update was released. Now if you have too many low-quality links leading to your website it can hurt you in the search engine results.
That doesn’t mean that high quality links from popular, trusted websites aren’t important. Google still places a high value on links coming from trusted, topically related websites. This is why the practice of guest posting has become so popular. Guest posting is a good way to generate quality backlinks to your website.
When pitching guest posts look for high quality websites with an audience that would be interested in what you have to say and always offer your best work. Building long term relationships with the right publications can provide a big boost in the search engine rankings.
Same as it ever was
Even though the Google Panda updates have received a lot of attention over the past year, nothing has really changed. Content is the No. 1 way to move up the search engine rankings. The only difference now is that it’s pretty much the only way to move up the search engine rankings.