Have you ever taken a look into the amazingly complex world of SEO and Internet marketing? It can be a dreadfully complicated place.
There’s so much to keep track of, so much to make sure you do (or don’t do), so many guides (both relevant and outdated) available to follow, not to mention the number of companies willing to do the work for you–almost certainly without being able to offer any kind of guarantee for the work you must pay for up front.
With all these moving parts, it becomes a bit overwhelming for entrepreneurs to determine where to start and how best to use their time.
After building a successful website (or half a dozen), one thing I discovered is that while all the above can help build your business, what it really comes down to is good content. Good content increases traffic, which leads to more sales or advertising revenue.
That said, while I was able to grow my sites and drive traffic by leveraging the power of good content, I didn’t completely ignore the basic SEO rules from Google. I still pay attention to the mechanics of my sites, the keywords and keyword phrases I use within the content and check for the variety of issues that can pop up in the Google Webmaster Tools dashboard. I also monitor page load times pretty closely.
For those looking for a little assistance, here are a few tips:
Create a powerful foundation.
If you want to grow a site through content, you need a powerful platform to put it on. Essentially, your site needs to meet two basic criteria:
- Easy to use. This is everything from a mobile-friendly design to a simple, clean theme.
- Complies with Google’s basic requirements. This means minimal advertising, an appropriate use of meta-robots directives, clean code and a fast-loading host.
All of this is a one-time investment with a revaluation every year or so. Because many of these considerations are standard features right out of the box, as well as the freedom to endlessly customize my sites quickly and effectively, I nearly always use WordPress. I’ve used other good content management systems, but none are better than WordPress, in my opinion.
Pure, high-quality content can, to a certain extent, counterbalance a few of the technical aspects of this strategy. Users will tolerate a longer load time to get to content they find truly valuable or forgive a slightly annoying layout, as long as they can find what they need.
Google is a little less forgiving: attracting them with good content isn’t necessarily going to save you if the crawlers can’t reach it through broken code or an issue with your robots/htaccess files (WordPress creates these automatically, by the way).
Focus on high-volume content.
Once you have the site set up, you need to produce content. I have high standards for the content I publish on my sites.
- I aim for an ideal length between 300 and 500 words, and try to never surpass 1,000 words in the body of a blog post. Longer content gives more space to talk about the reasoning behind decisions, the history behind trends and the like. That said, I don’t focus on the length. I write as long as it takes to cover the subject without fluff and with sufficient depth. This also largely depends on your subject matter and the audience your content targets–different verticals have different expectations.
- I have a fairly tight focus on the content topics. I have an industry focus, and I stick with it.
- I have a pretty low tolerance for typos and grammatical errors.
- I will sometimes let casual language slide. To make a point or to make a phrase stand out, the technically correct grammar sometimes falls behind.
- To establish a baseline, I will make sure I have at least one post published per day. This will typically grow to (at least) five posts per day, depending on the site.
The last point is really the key to thriving on content. Every piece of content is an opportunity. It’s a chance to talk about a new subject, to attract new readers and to gain incoming links.
Have all-natural organic links.
At this point, you’ve read pretty much my entire SEO strategy. I publish content and that content does the work for me. Due to their length, depth and value, they’re often among the top ten in search results.
Let it be known that valuable content can stand on its own and attracts readers – some of them other blog writers. Some of these blog writers are going to be interested enough in the content to share it in a post of their own. These are valuable links. They aren’t paid for, published by me on another site or part of link directories. They’re entirely organic.
Once again, it comes back to the idea that every post is an opportunity. I want to gain the attention of fellow bloggers who will link to my content, but I don’t want to do it by shoving my blog in their face at every turn. Instead, I learn what they’re interested in reading about, and I write valuable content on those topics.
Don’t have SEO be your main concern.
Link building isn’t the only part of traditional SEO that I set aside. I also don’t pay much attention to keywords. The idea of focusing on specific keywords for value has been on the decline for some time, and Google’s interpretive search has further diminished it. I use Google’s Authorship (a service that allows people to link their content to their Google+ profile), but I don’t go out of my way to share every post I make on Google+.
The reason being–every step Google has made is designed to emphasize valuable content over search-engine techniques. They’re slowly devaluing links, they’re putting the squeeze on Authorship, they’ve diminished the power of keywords, all while promoting content that meets the various requirements and standards they set for relevance and value.