Just like video killed the radio star, content killed the SEO star. The days of keyword stuffing, manipulative linking, meta tags, and thin content creation (short pieces without much substance) are in the past. Circumventing Google’s new rules are becoming increasingly difficult, making traditional SEO investment obsolete.
I say this because Google has been tweaking their search algorithm to make it harder for people to hack their way to the top with tactics designed to ‘trick’ Google into ranking them higher than they really should be. These updates have been a continual effort throughout Google’s existence however, they were made popular by the Panda, Farmer (The ‘Panda’ That Hates Farms: A Q&A With Google’s Top Search Engineers (Wired)), and Penguin updates–the first of which went into effect in early 2011. These updates have affected over 12% of queries with the Freshness update–involving recency–affecting up to 35% of queries (Google Search Algorithm Change For Freshness To Impact 35% Of Searches (SEL)).
The only way to ensure that your site gets ranked and stays ranked is to create unique thought-provoking content on a regular basis. Creating modern-looking sites that provide exceptional value to users has become the name of the game (link to how to create content strategy) and whoever does the best job, wins.
Knowing who you’re writing for and providing a platform for them not only ensures that your site will be more visible to the broader web but it also lays a foundation that provides enough value to people, keeping them coming back. So in a way, the changes to Google’s algorithm is a blessing in disguise because it’s going to recognize–and benefit–those that are creating the best, most engaging content.
Because the web–and Google–craves content that is fresh, the frequency at which you create content is crucial to the success of your content marketing efforts. Creating interesting content isn’t enough. You need to pump out great content as often as possible to compete for the web’s short attention span and need for freshly created content. The famous Neil Patel experimented with the frequency of blog posts to see how it affected the amount of traffic that his company’s blogs (Kiss Metrics and Crazy Egg) receive. He found some amazing data. When he started publishing 5 pieces of content per week they started to see large traffic increases. 5 pieces of content generated 422k visits per month. When they tested 6 articles, traffic went up to 501k visits. They were effectively able to increase site traffic by 18.6% for each additional article that they posted (How To Grow Your Blog To 10,0000 Visits a Month in 18 Months).
On top of creating exceptional content, social media is playing a much larger role as well. Google+ plays an important role for increasing the likelihood of ending up on SERPs (search engine results pages) and author rank. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are all becoming larger factors for whether certain content is relevant to the search or not.
The great thing about the latest changes to Google’s search algorithm is that they’ve made the concept of optimizing for site ranking much simpler. To win at Google’s new SEO rules make sure that you create great content regularly. You also need to append no follow links to any paid or earned media (including press releases). Another rule of thumb is to make sure that your headlines, page titles, and meta tags are relevant to the topics and audiences that you’re writing to.
SEO isn’t completely dead – remember the most important rule: great content doesn’t get affected by algorithm changes. Paid SEO does. It’s more about creating content and adding value to people’s experiences on your site. All the while, this causes SEO to become more of a meritocracy for valuable content and less of a sophisticated set of rules, tricks, and hacks.
Happy content creating!