I hate to tell you – the secret to search engine ranking is still quality
By Dennis Romano
Digital Strategist and Founder at EnvisionDr
Given what I do for a living, people (those currently paying us for advice, and those in front of me on line in the hardware store) frequently ask me to share the latest “tricks” for improving their site’s ranking.
What an indictment of digital marketing.
Even though the ranking intelligence of search engines continues to advance faster than tricksters can follow, there persists an idea that there are low effort, quick and dirty tactics that can improve a site’s ranking.
The truth is, the same tactics that “experts” would recommend just a few years ago (like buying links) will land you in Google penitentiary today – and when that happens, it takes a long time to work yourself out.
And, those lazy practices are what ruined the Internet for the rest of us, anyway.
When I go to Bing and enter a search term, I don’t want to land on a page of only slightly related links that lead to more links or to resources that may or may not answer my question. I want to land on the most relevant page the first time. Period. And, so do you!
For example, many people, particularly on the B2B web development side, used to think of keyword stuffing as not only a good idea, but as a requirement for good SEO.
This is because even fairly-recently, search engines were only capable of interpreting the simplest signals. Things like keyword density – stuffing keywords into a web page to make it seem more relevant were all the rage.
If one or two phrases related to your hobby or business could help focus Yahoo on your page – why not stuff 35 or 40 sort-of-related phrases to increase the number of views?
Fortunately, that trick no longer works. Nor does creating pages for every keyword variation or buying links. (Just don’t.) When a visitor from your intended audience arrives on your page – you want to provide value for them, not gobbledygook. Writing with the intent to trick machines is not how you inspire trust in your product or service.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still important to stay current on SEO master guidelines. Understanding best practices for things like tagging and handling non-textual content and Anchor Text are still very important (that’s why my clients still need me). It’s just that there is no good reason to publish a website without having something interesting to share.
It is content that the search engines need – it’s why people go to them. In fact, according to Bing, content should be “easy to navigate, rich and engaging to the visitor, and provide them the information they seek.” It should also be clear, deep, and easy to find.
Content should be original, well-written, accurate and engaging. And there is no ideal length. Write just enough to serve the needs of your target audience and convert them into a customer. That may mean a few hundred words or that may mean several thousand words. We also notice that for the most part, well-written content ultimately survives Algorithm changes too.
Critically, a lack of time and resources can often lead to rushing or, potentially even worse, the outsourcing of content creation to non-native speakers, budget services, or to inexperienced writers using keyword suggestion software without the domain knowledge necessary to understand what’s important to you and your audience.
For this reason, every bit of copy on our sites is written by a human being, a native speaker of the page’s primary language, who experienced in the domain about which they are writing.
Sorry folks – that’s the trick.
About Dennis Romano
Dennis Romano is an agency veteran. After graduating from Parsons School of Design he began his career providing creative design and program management within brand-named organizations. He was also principal and president of Ambassador Marketing Group Inc., a leading integrated marketing and advertising agency that served US and global clients. He provides extensive web, advertising, promotion, marketing, graphic design and visual communications experience.