Get On Board the Content Bandwagon

October 20, 2012

Google has warned webmasters for years against using SEO shortcuts, tricks, loopholes, manufactured “spun” content, and buying links to gain an artificial advantage. Large numbers of companies are ignoring that advice in a rush to win traffic and sales.

The results? Many Web sites have been penalized, removed from the index or suffered other consequences affecting visibility of their content in search. From the Florida update almost 10 years ago to the Panda and recent Penguin updates, it’s clear Google is committed to narrowing down the SEO tactics that can have an explicit impact on search visibility in their quest for quality.

Webmasters and Web site owners need to not only comply with Google guidelines (which can seem a bit ambiguous with advice like “create good user experience”) by avoiding spammy tactics, but those operating in a competitive category will need to think about how to create a competitive advantage without putting their online business at risk with Google’s increasingly conservative approach to SEO tactics.

Content and social media are important means to connect with customers that also result in rewards from search engines in the form of better visibility. Unfortunately, many SEO tactics that are focused on rankings objectives rather than customer acquisition and engagement limit social media participation to pushing content out through social media channels. In those situations, there’s less of a focus on creating engagement or community, which can actually produce the signals that search engines really value: content, interactions, sharing. The good news is that many smart SEOs are educating social content producers on the use of keywords and other optimization efforts to improve visibility of social content within search. The win is to do both: optimize for search and social engagement.

Many SEOs are getting on board the content bandwagon, except the common approach so far is to produce “more” content or “great” content in order to cast a wider net within search results. This makes sense: The more Web pages, the more potential entry points via search or shared links. But how much more effective would those ranking-centric efforts with content marketing be if there was more consideration of target audience needs during the buying cycle? What about optimizing for customers and business outcomes vs. keywords and rankings?

The best SEO advice isn’t about SEO. With a strong base of purposeful content, bring in keyword and social media optimization strategically to reach business goals for any kind of content, not just getting products and services pages to rank on page one with Google and Bing. The outcome is a more efficient, effective and scalable online marketing effort that attracts and engages more customers through search and/or social, is risk free and helps grow social networks at the same time.

Successful search marketing isn’t about following the rules, it’s about creating your own rules that satisfy the needs of the market you’re doing business in to grow your own business. At the same time, it’s about managing risk and knowing what the boundaries are. Sometimes that means you have to push to see what pushes back. Ongoing testing and marketing program optimization will be your best source of information, not solely search engine guidelines or industry experts. There is a time and a place for any type of SEO, social media or other online marketing tactics. Just be sure to quantify or clarify advice that seems too good to be true and cross check with your own ability to test and analyze.

This is a guest post to the Graphics Unleashed Blog by Doug Dickson. Doug Dickson is President and Chief Energizing Officer of Print Source One, one of the Arizona’s leading printing companies. His clientele includes all of America’s largest financial and insurance companies, celebrities, as well as top professionals in the medical, plastic surgery dental and orthodontic specialties. Mr. Dickson is well known for his ability to analyze Web sites and help them achieve front page listings in Google, a process known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). He is an industry expert and has been recognized by Google as a Certified Adwords Partner.

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