SEO and the Art of Internet Dating
SEO is like content dating. How well can you attract your best match? The techniques and principles outlined in SEO for the Rest of Us still hold. They will help you get found naturally. I’d like to update and expand that discussion a bit.
The heart of the matter is still content. Is your content useful, timely, relevant, needed? In Internet terms, is your content sexy for search? By sexy I mean is it adding something valuable to the MASSIVE conversation that is the contemporary Internet?
It should be.
7 key factors that will help your content get found naturally
1. Talk about what you know.
You know stuff. You probably know certain things really well. This stuff at the heart of your business or organizational mission is the content that is most likely to rise to the top in search engines for you. It’s no coincidence that one of our posts is currently ranked #1 on Google for “branding and marketing” and another #2 for “museum marketing.” Not only are these posts well optimized, but they also discuss substantive topics that this agency devotes a lot of time and attention to day in and day out. As the Google algorithms get better, real content will increasingly rise to the top.
2. Be useful (search sexy).
If you are providing genuinely useful and valuable content, then respectable sources will link to it once they find it. The reason the post “The Difference Between Marketing and Branding” is doing so well is that some people who have read it have genuinely found it useful enough to cite it in their own content. This gives our content (and theirs) search credibility, and since these links are not bought or manufactured but earned from the content itself, they shine through.
3. Connect to the world around you.
Part of making your content useful (sexy for search) is linking it out to the world and other respectable sources. This is counterintuitive for some, but for your content to be useful you have to provide value beyond what can be obtained just from you. The modality of the Internet is to connect things. Swim with the tide. Link off of your site to resources that will benefit your readers. Be generous.
4. Use original language.
Original content is finally getting its due. Write in your own voice so that your language will stand out as your own. Write for people to read. Say something no one else has said. There are searches for the most surprising things. The competition for search is not going to be won in the places where everyone is always mulling around saying stuff that everyone has already heard. Venture out a bit, and you might be surprised by what happens. We are ranked first, for example, for “historical game characters.” Not a lot of people are out searching this, but those who are find us, and guess what, we have content that is very useful for them. That’s the point.
The heart of the matter is still content. Is your content useful, timely, relevant, needed?
5. Go deep and be specific.
By really digging into your area of expertise you will find yourself in a place that is not crowded by idiots. This is a good place to be. It is not always about the quantity of traffic to your site. Rich, specific, and useful content encourages quality traffic. We have obtained some of our most important new clients from this blog. It’s an eclectic blog, but—excepting this article, for which there are probably 100 of other quality articles—many of the topics we write about are very specific, and often unique to us. It’s surprising how useful something specific can be to those who would not at first regard it as relevant to them. We’re all human, after all, and we naturally find stories, problems, and original insights interesting and useful. If you think about the Internet becoming more like us—more like a living, breathing organism—it makes sense that getting found would relate more and more to the quality and depth of your work.
The Internet, as I have suggested, is alive. Try stuff and see what happens. I was shocked early on in this blog when a particular post—on a topic that was only incidentally related to our core business—exploded over the internet. There was something in that post that a particular group found interesting. I was not expecting it and could not possibly have forecast what happened. All I know for certain is if I had not experimented with that topic, I’d never have known. On the opposite end, some things I’ve worked really hard on and which I strongly feel are interesting and topical end up going almost nowhere. The point is you never know, so try it.
7. Originality for all things
This is a bonus point. If you can extend your originality beyond the writing to the photo or video you use, this is a significant plus. More and more traffic is driven by images and video. If photos and videos are original, you can use them to further leverage search. (The photograph for this post—as with most of those used in his blog—is original. I thought this archive photograph was amusingly related to the subject. Yes, those are eyes sewn on to someone’s backpack with web-like strings dripping out of them. As a serviceable metaphor for “search,” I’ve used it here to support my case. If it’s your own, you can title it so that it supports your main search phrase. The deeper your originality, the better for search. If you cannot do original, link to the source. Don’t steal, as it serves no one.
A final note (of caution): getting found naturally is not the quick and easy path. What I am advocating—genuine, content-driven SEO—is not for the fickle or lazy. It’s work.
If you want some specific steps you can take to improve your on-site SEO, get this handy guide we created: “15 Simple Things You Can Do to Dramatically Improve On-site SEO”
Photo by the author