Yesterday, Julia and I were lucky enough to attend an educational SEO training program put on by LunaMetrics at the Pittsburgh Technology Council. To many, SEO is considered a dark art that relies on devious tactics to move your website to the top of Google results. After all, the #1 spot on a Google results page receives extraordinary more clicks than the subsequent results. Hence the booming SEO business.
After talking about keywords, the dangers of link farms, the importance of backlinking, and duplicate content, one thing was clear: the more you try to game the system, the higher the penalty. SEO practices have evolved from its sordid beginning (like hiding white text on white backgrounds) to focusing on providing relevant quality content for your user. The mantra “content is king” was a running theme throughout the event.
Andy Garberson, one of the speakers and search analyst at LunaMetrics, spoke with me afterwards about how SEO has changed. Believe it or not, when he tells people what he does he’s the victim of many scoffs and eye-rolls. SEO has shed its dark art process, but the stigma remains. Which is too bad, because SEO is ridiculously easy if you focus on providing a quality product. If your content rocks, your audience will link back to you and tweet about your brilliance. Google has gone a long way to dismantling the effectiveness of link farms with their Panda Update. In Google’s Penguin Update, black-hat SEO tactics such as stuffing keywords into your page like it was a Thanksgiving turkey now results in a penalty and a lower ranking.
The takeaway from this?
- Create relevant content for your niche.
- Share that content with the right audience.
- Don’t create a site that’s so “SEO Optimized” that it’s not human friendly.
Also, look to take advantage of the long tail search results. Enjoy my poor interpretation of that below.