The word “algorithm” is the equivalent of Ambien – it puts most people right to sleep. So it is miraculous that we actually read the news about Google’s newest search engine algorithms and how they impact web site design and content. We promise not to say the “A” word again in an effort to keep you awake.
The bottom line is that Google has reduced the importance of links to a site and has promoted the importance of the site’s content.
Google’s own Webmaster Tools article on the subject now says “In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.” Older versions of this same page emphasized page links from other sites and blogs.
So why the change? Evil “Black hat” SEO practitioners found it easy to cheat the system in a variety of ways including creating dummy sites with tons of page links back to their site. Google rightly thinks that sort of link spamming doesn’t serve the web community and that what people really care about is informative content from authoritative sources. We couldn’t agree more.
Matt Cutts the head of Google’s web spamming team recently posted a video in which he explains the changes and gives some dang good advice to webmasters and marketers including:
“I wouldn't put too much of a tunnel vision focus on just links, I would try to think instead about what I can do to market my website to make it more well known within my community, or more broadly, without only thinking about search engines.”
Cutts has also been quoted as saying:
“…make sure that you’ve got high-quality content… that’s compelling…that you might see in a magazine or in a book, and that people would refer back to, or send friends to …”
So what does this mean to you? First, if you have been using an SEO specialist who tries to game the system with phony links, paid links, advertorials disguised as editorial or any other sleazy tricks, you should back away. We are not suggesting that links are no longer important – they are. You should continue to encourage your business partners, news sites, publications and bloggers to link to your site as often as possible for legitimate reasons. Real links will not hurt your SEO rank in any way and will draw traffic to your site.
Most importantly you need to develop web pages, white papers or blog posts that contain objective, actionable information about how your readers can get more utility or enjoyment from your product category.
We recently came across an article by John Terra on Media Shower that resonated with our strongly-held feelings about web content. Mr. Terra said it best:
“What Google wants to see now is original, real content created by original, real people; content that attracts the user's attention because it's well-written, relevant and enjoyable.”
“…site owners should use this as an opportunity to bring in new talent that can generate quality content, not limited just to articles, but also images, video and info-graphics. If your site has engaging content that informs as well as entertains, people will stay longer and are likely to share links with their friends.”
You may be thinking how the heck are you going to be able to generate content like that. You’re a busy executive who needs to drive sales, develop new products, control costs, and manage logistics and a zillion other things every day. You don’t have time to write any more content and you certainly don’t have the budget to hire someone to do it for you! We can feel your pain.
But, you are looking at a content/SEO success story at this very moment. In fact you are consuming it. HomeToys.com has continuously beefed up its content offerings over the years by creatively partnering with outside marketing and CI professionals for original content of interest to their readers. This effort has resulted in steady growth where it counts — more readers — staying longer and reading more pages. According to Alexa, search visits are up 26% over the last 3 months. How’s that for an inspirational story?
Paul DiComo and Al Ballard are former Polk Audio and Definitive Technology marketing executives whose new company, CE Marketing Pros, helps CE companies market more effectively and stand out from the competition in a crowded and confusing marketplace.