Guest post by David Leonhardt
I recently wrote on my blog that Google is not fair.
Now in case you think that I am being unfair to Google, let me explain that I made it very clear that I did not expect Google to be fair – that being fair is not Google’s goal.
“Let’s review what Google’s ranking goal is, which I can assure you has nothing to do with fairness. Google’s goal is to provide searchers with what will be most useful to them. We use search engines to find what we want; Google does its best to deliver. It does not always succeed (although it obviously does well enough, or we would all be using some other search engine).”
I went on to define what an SEO consultant or in-house SEO’s role needs to be.
“…it is the SEO’s job to make sure that, for a given search term, the site actually delivers. Obviously there is some overlap and cooperation required with the designer and the programmer on the technical front, but mostly the SEO needs to make sure the content is what searchers are looking for. ”
And I added …
“And the SEO consultant has one additional job, besides making sure the content is most useful – and this is key – making sure the search engines know the content is the most useful. It is about writing. It is also about promoting.”
So how can we put this into action, in a long-term actionable way? With Google’s recent attack on exact-name domains (EMDs) it is pretty obvious that specific tactics that spammers use can come back to haunt you, even if you are not a spammer. So here are a couple good rules to follow:
1. If spammers are doing it, do something else.
2. If it’s easy to do, spammers will do it (refer back to rule #1)
The top piece of advice I give my clients to is to create something original. It might be just a blog post. It might be a tool. Or an Infographic. Or an app.
The more useful, the better. And the more original, the better, too.
Yes, I know many people reading this will nod their heads thinking, “I have heard how good Infographics are. I’ll throw as much data together as possible and quickly make an infographic.”
Wrong. That is not original. Everybody is doing it. Infographics are getting more and more common, and more and more spammy. If you can’t put original thinking into the Infographic (or into the blog post or the app or the tool or whatever), it’s just filler content. It is worth listening to how Matt Cutts of Google defines “quality” in this earlier post. I am not saying filler content is bad; it could still be useful. But you won’t hit a home run slapping together some content with string and staples.
You want something that bloggers will run with, the journalists will quote, that online magazines will republish. Something that will help the search engines see that the content on your site is most useful. It is when you get quality links from quality websites that the search engines understand how useful your website is. And true quality website won’t link to regurgitated content. They link to fresh, original ideas.
Some people might think this post should be entitled “What SEO Really Means in 2012″ or “What SEO Really Means Post-Penguin”. But really, not that much has changed; these guidelines have always made sense. The difference now if that Google is leaving you little choice but to do what makes sense.
David Leonhardt runs The Happy Guy Marketing, an agency specializing in SEO, social media and ghost writing.