As a small business, you are looking for the biggest bang for your buck. In SEO that translates to the most sales per dollar you hand over to your SEO consultant. Will Reynolds, founder of SEER interactive, recently blogged about how Google has turned the SEO “good guys” into “bad guys” by punishing them for spending money on “white hat” strategies.
How? By giving sites that buy lots of low-quality links the top spots in the search results pages. In doing this, Google is choosing not to reward sites that focus on quality content and creating a great user experience (what Google tells us we should do). Thus, Google is encouraging sites to do SEO one way, and rewarding those who do exactly the opposite.
This month I wrote a blog about the importance of content marketing. It’s important that I note this isn’t a service that is offered by most SEO firms. That’s because it takes creative effort and can only be done by someone who has a marketing edge. These types of folks aren’t necessarily the ones running SEO companies.
Instead, it’s IT-savvy, html coding geeks that are plugging in meta data and pitching websites for we’ll-give-you-content-in-exchange-for-a-link deals.
And they’re smart for doing so.
As Reynolds shows with charts, sites with lengthy, but low-quality backlink profiles still fare better than blogs with lots of subscribers, lots of Twitter activity and sites that engage on Google+. This, he says, means that Google is “ ‘letting’ the bad guys rank, which only gets them more clients, and pollutes more of the web with crappy sites that have over aggressively linked.”
Here’s how we break this down at Klik Marketing. From my experience I would say the top four SEO activities that produce the quickest results are:
- Placing optimal keywords in the title tags
- Building back-links
- SEO-minded content
- Optimizing backlink anchor text to match keywords on the pages to which they link
Professional, quality content makes the user happy and can also be helpful for a website’s SEO campaign. Here’s the problem for Google: a search engine can’t evaluate whether or not content is quality in the same way humans can. It can only use an algorithm designed to try to be intuitive enough to try to guess the level of quality. So the SEO activities in the list above, like correct keyword density and anchor text, end up being the focus of many SEO campaigns.
The problem with stopping at quick fixes to try to rank higher in the search engines is that you haven’t stopped to think about what your visitors will think of your site once they arrive. If it appears “spammy” or like a machine wrote it, they aren’t likely to stick around. Traffic is half the story, conversion rates are the other.
The bottom line: Reynolds is right to acknowledge that Google is contradicting itself by rewarding sites using tactics it explicitly tells us not to use.
However, we shouldn’t be getting mad when what Google is telling is just plain common sense. Yes, rankings are the first thing we should be concerned with, but once we use strategy to get our sites ranked high, we shift focus to our branding, what others are saying about us online (social media) and providing quality content that make our visitors happy. That means a focus on content quality. After all, SEO is really all about turning visitors into customers.
And we should also not forget that Google is continually updating its algorithm. It’s possible that Google will eventually be able to think of better ways to match how it ranks websites in the search results to its own advice.
The Klik Marketing Blog is your source for Charlotte SEO and Small Business topics. It is written by Klik Marketing founder and President Eric Fransen. Eric has been involved with the Internet Marketing industry since the late 1990’s.