I read it for the first time today. Someone suggesting that sometime in the near future ... Google would no longer rely on incoming links to a site to determine search engine ranking.
Knowing how long Google's used back links to determine the social value of a website, and therefore its ranking, it's interesting to think about this going away. However, it won't. Not entirely. But I agree with what I think was the spirit of the content.
As always, Google (and other search engines) wants to deliver the highest quality results possible to its users. This means something relevant to their search while providing the best in terms of information and/or products and services. So their eternal goal has to be rooting out spammers. And spammers, to be sure, have abused the heck out of back linking, building thousands of unnatural links to websites just to show up at the top of Google.
So recently, Google de-indexed a massive blog network, which people used to build links to their sites. Not that this was all spamming, because that depends not on the network, but how you USE the network. Still, Google slapped the entire network at once by just removing all its blogs and therefore the links that people had spent possibly months or years building. Especially painful if they weren't building elsewhere. Especially appropriate if they used the network just for links (what's in it for me?) rather than for giving valuable content (what can I offer you?)
As I pointed out in a recent blog entry, if you want to succeed long-term in the search engines, you have to give them what they're after, which is quality. If you're going to build links to your site, they'd better have variety to them (types and locations) and be of QUALITY -- not just spam comments that link back to your site. Press releases and articles that you post elsewhere will of course link to your site, but they should be done with purpose, and should be well written, once again offering real information to consumers.
With quality content on your site, you're also better poised to create natural incoming links to your site -- just what Google's looking for. People honestly talking about your website because there's something worth talking about.
If you take a look at my personal website, you'll see that I offer a lot of my personal short fiction and even my own music for free on the site. Me offering something of myself to the world, and hoping that others will want to mention it to their friends if they've enjoyed it. If people want to buy my novel (or get it for free as an Amazon Prime member) because they've learned about it on my site, then that natural process of generating word of mouth works just as Google and others envision it.
Over the last decade, we saw a lot of manufacturing head overseas, and this included work for writers because companies weren't looking for quality writing. They were looking for links. Now I have a feeling that, just as manufacturing is starting to head back to the States, writing will too, because businesses will discover what I've said all along: that building with quality is the best kind of building of all.
I don't deny, by the way, that the grey and black hat techniques (what Google doesn't want you using for SEO) have worked for many. They are, by definition, techniques to trick the system as it is today. But by their nature, they are ripe to fail any day as Google finds them and wipes them off the books through deindexing sites or simply changing its algorithm, as we've seen happen many times. So yes ... these can work, but the long-term results come from offering something real.
Any time you're running a display ad in print, you obviously want to choose the venue -- the magazine or paper you're running in. You want your ad to match the audience. Even better if you can choose the content it's running with -- and some publishers will run your ad alongside your editorial material if you've written an article or are getting featured in an interview or something like that.
Even if they don't feature you alongside your content (as it might appear to be a conflict of interest), having content and a print ad in the same issue is a way of reinforcing brand awareness and your message. This is an instance when I most encourage print ads.
Context is of course the reason for choosing keywords related to your ad when running ads online. Only sometimes ... that can backfire. Click here for a funny blog entry with 10 instances where an ad is running ... well, let's just say in an unideal setting. All because the keywords ARE related.
A great blog entry from "Lazy Marketer" Chris Rempel today on the state of search engine optimization (SEO) in 2012. It's called, "Here's What's Actually Dead in 2012." It covers the Google updates from last year as well as comments on Clickbank, online sales taxes, the open market for Kindle books and certain kinds of apps, etc.
Having studied 400+ sites with SEO tools, Chris has come to some conclusions about what works today at least on Google. I wanted to quote some of it, but before I do ...
What I've Said for Years:
Develop quality, unique content. Don't hire people for $5 to write articles that represent your business. And don't just swipe someone else's content. Keep someone on staff who writes well or hire a real writer whose native language is English (or whatever the language of your audience). Remember that you're not just trying to score a search engine presence. Your content has to win over human prospects as well. It needs to establish trust, entice desires, and convince the mind.
Keep the content fresh. I believe in static articles for key information that people need to access. You can build to your list of articles over time. But just as important is a more frequently updated blog that keeps people up to date on what your business is doing and educates them about your field of business ... and why you bring them value. Of course you can add a social component to this to keep it even fresher.
Build quality incoming links. Oops -- there's that "quality" word again. I'm not a big fan of "more." I'm a fan of "better." Experts have shown for a few years now that high-quality links do more for you than scores of low-quality links. Really get people talking about you by offering value. Of course that can include asking friends or friendly businesses to say a few nice things about you in their social networks (links), blogs, etc.
I've promoted quality for several years because remember that there are only three certain things in life: death, taxes, and changing search engine algorithms. (I think that's how it goes.) The purpose of search engines though (even if we think like Chris does that Google missed the mark on this last year) is to connect people to valuable content. Anything that tries to shortcut this is going to suffer at some point. So if you want to build for long-term success, quality matters.
This isn't to say that the process of building with quality can't change with time. Today we have video options that we didn't have in the early days of the internet. And now social buttons and social links have an impact on search engine rankings that they didn't have fairly recently. But my bottom line has always been fresh, quality content with quality referrals to your site. So now let's look at ...
What Chris is Saying:
Among other things, Chris points to a few elements that you might have very recently read. Such as ...
1) Every page you want indexed needs to be 100% unique and long-content.
Maybe it’s a bit excessive, but for my largest authority site yet (which I’ve been building for over a year now), my minimum word count per page is 550 words, and usually 600+. And we’re talking top-shelf content. This is definitely NOT $5/article drivel.
2) Freshness Factors Actually Matter Now.
I still hate blogs (ironically), but ... these days, more than ever, the “newness” factor based on things like POST DATE and RSS FEEDS (your site’s) is directly contributing to SERP placement. Most of you have probably already noticed this.
3) “Social Media” is (Unfortunately) Now a Part of Essential Linkbuilding.
Getting “likes”, “tweets” and all the rest of it is now a very real ranking factor. Additionally, so is your author tag (rel=”author” and rel=”me”). We knew this day was coming, and its arrival has been tumultuous, simply because it’s far from being a refined science like traditional backlinking (and it’s easier to exploit).
If you want to see more about what he wrote, check out his actual blog entry. I just thought it useful to show the credibility of 400+ site tests to confirm my push for quality and regular content. Partly because ME saying you need quality writing is awfully biased. (Don't you want to hire mccardellwrite?) But then ... I've said it for the reason that it seems to be awfully true.
Over the last couple years, I've had a firsthand look at people selling a particular brand worth millions in profits each year. A relatively small group of people was selling this brand online, and there was a ton of demand for it nationwide.
So it's surprising to me that while countless dollars were spent on paid ads to drive site traffic, very little was put into developing valuable online content that would help the consumer make a wise purchasing decision. And to make that purchase through the content provider's website of course.
Some highly searched keywords related to this brand went unpurchased as URLs, where reviews or articles on the brand could have been posted. And the online stores selling the brand never developed active sites with blogs, social network pages, etc.
Some online competition just can't be won in organic search results without a major investment of time and money. "Real estate" for example. That's a given. But when you are selling a specific brand against a relatively small number of competitors ... and that brand could be worth millions to you ... it's time to develop content and from that, FREE TRAFFIC. (An awfully delicious business term when you can convert it into sales.)
Whether you do it yourself or hire it out, remember that quality matters, and that what people really want is to make smart choices with their money. If you're out there to throw the usual sales pitch at them, they'll move on. They want information. It should also come across as professional because this is your moment to establish credibility and trust. If you don't do this, why would someone hand you there money and trust you to send a good product?
So see what you can offer that helps customers do the right thing for themselves, and see that translate into sales from people far more likely to be happy with their purchases and to give your business the right kind of "word of mouth."