SEO or Good Content Part 2

by Martin Malden

A few days ago I covered some basic on-page SEO techniques.

So, as promised at the end of that article, here’s the second part of the answer to the question about whether SEO or good content is better for generating good search engine visibility: content and its impact on off-page SEO.

Off-page SEO is more effective than on-page SEO at getting your site to rank well in the search engines. So what is it, and how do we improve it?

Off-page SEO drives the search engines’ perception of what the Internet generally thinks of your site.

These are some of the factors the Search Engines use in coming to their view:

  • How many sites link to your site?
  • What is the quality of the sites linking to your site?
  • Are the sites linking to you in the same niche as you?
  • Are the links one-way or reciprocal?
  • Is your site easily ‘discoverable’?

Links. That’s what you really need. And lots of them. High quality, one-way links.

So how do you get those?

With good quality content.

Content that informs, amuses or entertains. Content that people find so useful, or grabs them in such a way, that they not only link to your site so they can return, they pass on your site to others. Who also link to you.

Forget link farms and link exchanges. Forget trading links. The search engines can spot those activities and they discounted them ages ago.

Forget the social networks (for linking purposes) – they all use re-directs and, even if they don’t, the Search Engines discount links from them too.

You want a steadily growing number of real people linking (one way) to your site because they like what they find there.

You can buy one-way links, but you’ll usually only get them for a pre-determined period of time – a month or some other period you agree with the link seller. These do have the effect of creating one-way links in the eyes of the search engines, but you’ll lose them again once your agreed period is up.

Producing lots of good content that people want to link to is the surest foundation for getting your site to rank well in the search engines.

But it takes a long time – is there any way to speed up the process?

Sure – you need to develop a link building strategy.

But never forget – a link building strategy is not a substitute for good content.

Without good content a link building strategy won’t work. Or at least not a link building strategy that involves quality links.

So what would be a typical link building strategy?

You can search out blogs or other sites that are in your niche. Use a tool such as SEO Elite, or the SEOBook plugin for Firefox, to find the good quality ones. Sites with lots of incoming links and a high Google page rank.

Then you can link to them. If they’re blogs the blogmasters will receive a notification that someone’s created an incoming link. On my blog it will ask me to approve the link request, which means that I’ll have to visit the site that’s linking in.

If I like it I’ll approve the link. If I like it enough I’ll link back. Yes, yes – know that’s a reciprocal link…

But the point is this: once you’re on someone else’s blogroll other visitors to that blog may come visiting your blog. And if they like your site they’ll link to you. These are the links you want.

What else..? Use the social networking sites to get your content in front of as many people as possible – but don’t spam! Many of the social sites and micro-blogging sites give you the option to link back to your site and pull in your RSS feed. That’s fine, but don’t openly try to push people towards your site.

Links from the social sites themselves have no benefits. But if people see your content, visit your site and like it, they’ll link to you. And those links DO count.

But for all this to work effectively, you have to have good content.

So my answer to the original question would be:

Focus on content.  It’s the foundation of good search engine ranking. Develop lots of it.  High quality, valuable content that gives good information about the subject you’re focusing on.

Then use the techniques I’ve touched on in these two articles to generate good on-page and off-page SEO to help the search engines find and crawl your site. And, finally, disseminate your content via RSS and through the social networking sites to get it in front of as many people as possible.

But, at all costs, do not spam!

Remember: the search engines are changing their algorithms on a regular basis. This means that if you place your emphasis on SEO you’ll constantly be trying to keep up with them. The one thing that remains effective, whatever changes the Search Engines make, is good content

When you get it in front of enough people, and enough people like it, you’ll get the incoming links and your site will start to rise in the search results.

Leave us a comment with your experiences of link building.

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