I see a lot of misinformation out there about SEO, and it’s never going to end. When ignorant SEO-clueless people see an ad for “get #1 for any keyword!” they’re going to pay attention, and they’ll probably pay up for some fraudulent ranking service. (Hint: the only people who can actually “guarantee” you a top spot in a search engine would be the search engine, not some random dude advertising on Google Ads).
The SEO Strategy Spectrum
There seem to be two sides of the spectrum when it comes to SEO strategy. On one side are the “content purists” and the “over-optimizers.” I just thought of these two terms off the top of my head, so I’ll explain what I mean.
You know the type, they’re the people who think if you write intriguing and unique content, search engines will magically reward you for this with a top ranking. “Magically” being, you put no actual effort in promoting this content, but expect people to somehow discover it anyway.
This is kind of like performing an awesome speech with lots of awe-inspiring ideas. Except you’re in the middle of a desert, and nobody is around. And there’s no water because remember, you’re in a desert. And you succumb to dehydration and nobody ever hears what you have to say.
Sounds bad, doesn’t it? Unfortunately for you, there’s a ton of quality content out there that you want to read, but you’re never going to see it because the person producing the content is under the false assumption that search engines will magically find your awesome content. It doesn’t work like that.
Hey, who cares if our content is complete garbage and is written by some illiterate automated bot? Just as long as it ranks on the first page is all that matters.
This is kind of like streaking at a popular sporting event. Yeah, people are going to see you, but they’re turning away in disgust and throwing Bud Light bottles at you. And they’ll quickly forget about you soon after stadium security whisks you off to a private holding cell and the sports game resumes.
Sounds embarrassing, doesn’t it? People can quickly recognize crappy content, and they’re going to move on pretty soon once they realize your content is crap. If they see you in the results again, they’ll subconsciously not click on your link because they’re expecting the same crappy quality on that result too.
A compromise (the middle ground)
Here’s a brilliant idea: let’s make great content and then promote it! A pretty simple idea, but so many people fail to do it.
This is kind of like performing at the Super Bowl half-time show. You put on a great show, a huge audience is watching you, and they like it. Basically the best of both worlds from my previous desert and streaking examples.
How to do it
A lot of what I’m about to say will be oversimplified and fall under the “easier said than done” category. However, hopefully the concepts provided here will help you more effectively promote your content.
Step 1: Create something awesome. Think, be creative, figure out what your audience wants to see, and give it to them. Copyblogger has a wealth of great copywriting tips. Even if you think you’re the most awesome content creator in the world, I suggest you check it out.
Step 2: Tell people about it. Identify influential people in your industry and kindly ask them to “mention” it. This can be through an email or tweet, doesn’t matter. They probably won’t, because chances are your content isn’t as awesome as you think it is, so don’t get all huffy if they don’t respond. Just keep trying.
If your content truly is awesome and relevant, these influential people will mention it, and you’ll be reaping all the benefits of extra traffic and heightened profile. Pretty soon, people will be asking you to tweet their stuff. It all comes full circle.
If that doesn’t happen, repeat step 1 until you figure out a winning formula. This may take a while, so be patient.
Obviously I’ve oversimplified a lot of things like brand building, content marketing, and other things required to create a solid foundation for your SEO strategy.
Bottom line is, search engines want to give users the most relevant results. If Google sees you’re getting a lot of social proof (Facebook likes and tweets) and incoming links, they’re going to recognize that and hopefully reward you with high rankings for relevant search terms.
Google isn’t stupid. Using shady link building techniques (like directory submissions, mass blog commenting, etc.) might work for a while, but eventually will catch up to you. Relying on such strategies is like building your business on a house of cards.
Make great content and promote it. There’s really not a more sustainable, time-tested SEO strategy than that. It’s the middle ground you need to have when deciding where you fit on the SEO strategy spectrum.