Post-Penguin, the world of SEO and marketing has changed a lot. For many years, link building, directories, and article marketing were the primary concern of SEO agencies. Some “black hat” webmasters put so much focus on building a high volume of links that they ignored other important factors such as the quality of those links and the quality of the content on the site that they were trying to promote. Volume of traffic, and of incomming links, was the only thing that they were thinking about.
Penguin marked the beginning of a new era for Internet marketing. We’re on the verge of “web 3.0”, and in this new world, quality is everything. It is king, queen and everything in between. Google wants webmasters to stop worrying so much about gaining search engine rankings and instead focus their efforts on the user’s experience. Even Bing cares more about content that’s worth sharing than it does about traditional SEO strategies. In this modern web, link farms, directory listings, and article submission services aren’t enough. That’s not to say that there’s no place for link building, but the links that count now are ones that you earn – not ones that you automate.
At a recent SEO conference in Brighton, England, Dave Coplin of Bing announced something that got the SEO world talking. Bing cares about social media. Twitter and Facebook references are factored into search rankings. So, if you want your site to rank well, you’ll need to get people talking about it.
Embracing social media makes sense even if you ignore the search engines. Social media is a huge part of day to day life for a large section of the population now. Almost everyone you come across in day to day life will have some kind of online presence in the form of social media. It’s become a part of life; people use Facebook to find out about events, talk to their friends, and stay in touch with their favourite brands. Twitter has replaced the RSS reader for many people, serving as a primary source of news, both real-time and celebrity, and information as much as a way to chat with acquaintances.
Call it a Content Strategy
Changing the way you think about SEO might be difficult, especially if you’ve spent years trying to raise your pagerank artificially. Instead of thinking about a “link building” strategy, or an “SEO strategy”, why not think of your Internet marketing in new terms, and formulate a Content Strategy instead. As part of this strategy, you want to build up a constantly updated library of great content that people will want to share via their favourite Social Media sites.
Building great content will earn you quality, organic links from social media sites, and also from high authority sites. This is the kind of link profile that Google is looking for Post-Panda, and it’s the kind of thing that Bing loves too!
Writing quality content takes time. You need to assess the needs of your current, and potential, target market. What are they interested in? What do they want to know about, and what are the asking questions about? If you start to address the questions that people have surrounding your niche, then you’re headed down the right path for creating wicked content).
In order to do this, you may need to hire a social media agency or an SEO consultancy to help you create the content, and put together an easy system to allow your visitors to share it, but it will be worth it in the end. Post Panda, you won’t have to worry about being stung because of dodgy link building strategies. If you build a site worth visiting, people will come to it, and if people are visiting, you can bet that Google and Bing won’t be far behind.
Crispin Jones writes for Insignia Communications who deliver training on social media crisis exercises and tabletop exercises. Connect with Insignia on Facebook.