Want to optimize? Try original, genuine content.

February 1

Everyone’s keen on search engine optimization (SEO) these days, and rightly so. Showing up at the top of the heap in a Google search can open up an express lane to profits, or at least to a lot of new interest in your site.

Of course, SEO is a constantly moving target. It’s created an industry out of thin air, with thousands of search engine marketing firms cropping up to guide website owners through the shifting landscape of search algorithms and Web crawler protocols. There’s a lot of best-practice stuff in terms of constructing a website, and that fundamental approach shouldn’t be discounted. But there’s also a lot of trickery out there—short cuts that people have figured out to fool Web crawlers into landing on their sites. We’ve seen these bizarre lists of key words stashed at the bottom of home pages. We’ve seen companies creating thousands of fake websites to link back to their main company site. We’ve seen other craziness, but it never works for long. As soon as someone finds a way to work the system, the system adapts. After all, the geniuses at places like Google aren’t going to let their multi-billion-dollar money mill get bamboozled by such tomfoolery.

One thing most SEO experts agree on is that new, genuine content nearly always improves your search engine results. Really, that’s what the search engines are looking for—legitimate content that matches searchers’ queries. If you slap up a new site loaded with carefully chosen key words, you may land on page one of your chosen search lists for a while. Ultimately, though, it helps your cause to provide fresh, relevant information on those topics.

About a year ago, I interviewed a photographer and Web marketing guru name Scott Bourne for a magazine article. Bourne believes in the concept of multiple points of contact. He hits his audience on different online media, and everything is connected. He blogs. He produces podcasts. He collects Twitter followers by the tens of thousands. As a result of his continual content generation, he’s at the top of all his key search criteria. Now here’s the kicker: He doesn’t pay for any SEO on his website. Simply by posting relevant content that his audience is interested in, his site comes up at the top of every search term that he finds relevant to his business.

Admittedly, Bourne is a great communicator with a background in broadcasting. The constant stream of content comes naturally, but he really isn’t doing anything remarkable. He’s no technology wizard. He’s no SEO genius. He’s just a photographer in a small town who talks about topics that other photographers find interesting. He tries to genuinely communicate with his audience, and it works. Check him out at www.scottbourne.com and www.photofocus.com.

You, too, could do this with your customer base. Make that blog work for your business. Use social media to connect with your customers. Adjust your static text to changing trends in your industry. Build the content you need to supercharge your SEO. Don’t have the time? There are plenty of great writers-for-hire out there [the author shifts his eyes suggestively]. It can be an investment of time or funds, but the results are there if you want them.

No trickery. No tomfoolery. Just simple, genuine, relevant content. It works.  

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