SEO vs Content: Why you should stop trying to second-guess Google

By Julia Hutchison

Google has been at the head of the pack as across the board, the search giants have upped their game in terms of weeding out those sites that have resorted to an array of “black-hat” tricks to improve their search ranking. The upshot of all this is that a successful SEO strategy has to be underpinned by a solid content strategy.

Having said that, there is still a generation of content producers and marketers who remain entrenched in the SEO doctrine of a decade ago. And this explains the still frequent emails in circulation that offer “an ideal” reciprocal linking or link sharing opportunity.

Search engines have been onto this tactic for some time, and cheap links, especially in any quantity, are easily detectable. Of course, good quality links are still a powerful SEO tool, but anyone foolish enough to resort to “old-fashioned” link harvesting techniques is more likely to find they have a negative effect on their search ranking. So, while it is still crucial to make sure that basic SEO best practice is followed in the design and creation of a website, today the key weapon in a brand’s SEO armoury is content.

But not just any content.

Your focus has to be on creating good, quality content that is engaging for its target audience. This means that an over-reliance on keywords and SEO-dictionary constructs that say very little to anybody are out. Whereas content that centres on relevancy and reality is very much in. The importance of investing in strong, link- and share-worthy content cannot be overestimated. And the right editorial resource will know how to write for an audience, and not just for a search engine.

Relevant content and real people is the backbone of Google’s approach. This was highlighted by the fabled ‘Penguin’ release of last summer that promised to downgrade the rankings of companies that are seen to deliberately outrank the ranking algorithms.

We live in a world where supposedly half of Justin Beiber’s twitter followers are inactive accounts, and Facebook’s monthly active user measurement continues to take significant hits both in the US and UK, as spam, spurious and suspicious accounts are weeded out the system.

So, if they’re closing in on faked social media, surely that means that all conscious SEO efforts are also on decidedly shaky ground. Except that is for the writing, designing and recording of relevant, real and rewarding content that is created with a specific audience in mind.

So the new SEO message is simple: “keep it real”. And lets leave the cowboys where they belong – in stories.

About the author

Julia Hutchison is head of content at group FMG and former COO of the Content Marketing Association.

Group FMG is a global provider of high impact marketing & media solutions; integrating consulting, content, e-commerce and mobile commerce. The company provides tangible value to its clients by providing marketing consulting services, enabling e-commerce and m-commerce and producing rich media, local and social content that traverses all channels so that the experience a consumer faces with a brand is uniform.

Group FMG is focused on delivering digital transformation through a unique globally balanced delivery model that offers local knowledge, domain skills, technology enablers and cost savings, fulfilling marketing ROI imperatives and building strategic long-term client relationships. Group FMG is headquartered in New York, with offices in London and Chennai.  

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