If you’ve been around the Internet for any length of time, you’ve probably seen it. Something along the lines of a whole long string of words like, “SEO | SEO Domination | Search Engine Optimization | Search Engines | Google Search Engine”. WTF? Well, those are probably second-rate bloggers going by old, outdated SEO rules in a lame attempt to dominate their respective Google search engine results. Well, with recent updates to Google’s algorithms, that venerable search engine won’t be fooled by what is now known as keyword stuffing. What does that mean for you? Well, for starters, that will probably mean more quality content without the obvious artificial SEO hacks the next time you plug a search term into the world’s favorite search engine. If you create content for a living or just run a blog on the side, you also want to throw away that year-old SEO book (Yes, the rules really do change that fast!) and just focus on creating content that looks good to your target audience.
We know that ignoring the search engines is not easy. Most people go to Google, Yahoo Search or Ask.com whenever they’re just looking for information. However, you’ll be better off not relying on them for traffic. Stuff you can do instead include:
- Focus on content. What would you do if search engines didn’t exist? Develop content that looks good to human readers, of course. That’s the number one reason that trying to cater to the swiftly moving world of search engine rankings does not work. You might make it to the top of the search engine results and still lose potential readers, customers and money because humans couldn’t make out what you were trying to say or sell. So develop your content to be easy on the eyes and people will stick around longer.
- Consider your audience. If you’re selling candles, will your customers be interested in books about the Space Race? Well, that depends on whether they’re looking for a biography about Alan Shepard titled “Light This Candle”. That’s the kind of funny results that search engines can produce and a waste of bandwidth if you don’t have “Light This Candle” in your inventory. So develop your articles and product descriptions around what you’re really aiming for and you’ll get better overall results.
- Spend your SEO budget on other marketing tactics. News flash! Some SEO companies are closing their doors because former SEO experts just don’t get it anymore. What should you go with instead? Banner ads? Pay Per Click advertising? How about a booth at local festivals where you can showcase your product? It’s up to you, so get clever and maximize your marketing dollars in a way that people will remember.
- Develop a relationship with real people. This gets back to the content thing again. Your visitors like to feel that they can relate to you. The original idea behind blogs was to give real people an outlet for their thoughts and experiences. Of course, that got hijacked by spammers, scammers and those guys who sell products that supposedly make you rich, thin and sexy. So you can do your part to reclaim the original intention behind blogging and share useful tips along with your own experiences behind the products you feature. It certainly beats dry product descriptions and those ugly web page designs you might remember from the 1990s.
- Plan for repeat visitors. If your visitors like you, they might drop by sometimes to see what’s new. That means making regular updates that can range from a brand-new product to the latest news on a developing situation.
- Do an occasional “drill-down”. It’s easy to pick the Top Ten Best Selling Widgets to feature on your blog. It’s harder to drill down to the widgets that are less popular but perform equally well. On my own blog, I’m not featuring music that’s on the Top 40 list this week. I’m featuring top smash-hit songs from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. That means the younger generation can discover these songs and decide for themselves that it’s pretty cool to join Danny & The Juniors “At The Hop”.
- Hiring freelancers to create your content? Check their work. I’ve done the freelancing thing myself, but I’ll be honest. Some freelancers are better than others. Some content creators have obviously barely passed English as a Second Language classes, others are the lazy type that just copy-and-paste whatever they can find, while a few of the best have such a good grasp of language that they probably save their best work for the blog they run on the side. So it never hurts to engage them in a little question-and-answer session just to gauge their English skills before you plunk down $5 for that 500-word article.
- Don’t overdo it with advertising on your site. On my own blog, I aim for advertising to blend in with my content so smoothly that users think of it as “related content” rather than “irritating advertisement”. Not only can too much advertising ding you with Google in some cases, but people will get annoyed if they have to close out a lot of pop-up ads before they even see your content. Are you an affiliate marketer? If so, this isn’t too hard to do. Just use Deep Linking to hunt for a few (not too many!) related products to feature on your blog entries.