Search Engine Optimization (SEO) used to be an easy task to accomplish for a seasoned web developer or HTML guru. Back in the “old days,” we’re really talking less than ten years here but that’s an eternity in web design, there was a plethora of tricks a programmer could use in order to help a website’s pagerank. There were so-called black hat tricks, undermining a search engine’s weaknesses to propel a website to the top, and white hat tricks more on the up-and-up, generating a better pagerank through carefully crafted means.
Those days are long behind us.
Search engines have become smart. Essentially, they have taken search engine optimization out of the hands of the developer and put the onus solely on the website owner. Yes, a well-developed website using the latest “tricks” to assist in SEO can absolutely make a difference, but good content has more power over any alternate means to increase a site’s pagerank.
What do I mean? Let’s use an example of a bicycle shop.
Harvey, the bicycle shop’s owner, decides he wants a website. He reaches out to a well-known developer, an expert in SEO. The site is designed using the latest SEO standards: well-structured, W3C-compliant HTML, the use of the latest semantic tags, structured data promoted by schema.org, a sitemap, etc. The web developer has done everything right to ensure that Harvey and his bicycle shop are ranked as high as possible from a web developer standpoint.
But this isn’t enough.
Harvey’s website contains several pages displaying his bicycles for sale, with some information about each bike, as well as information about Harvey’s company, how to contact him and where to find him. But he realizes he’s not ranked very high in the search engine rankings and wonders why. He might even blame the developer or, worse, look to spend money on a firm that specializes in SEO and makes a bunch of false promises.
From the search engine’s point of view, it knows that Harvey owns a bicycle shop. So do hundreds of other people. There’s nothing special about Harvey’s website, and no indication he deserves to be ranked higher above the rest.
This is where good content comes into play. In order for Harvey to be ranked higher, he needs to prove to the search engines that he deserves to be ranked higher. Harvey needs to become a bicycle expert. He decides to make a bevy of changes to his website: not only promoting his bicycles for sale, but providing information about each bicycle manufacturer, a how-to-guide for buying a new bicycle, why riding bicycles promotes good health, repair information – you get the idea. Suddenly Harvey’s website has jumped in the search rankings and Harvey is enjoying more business than ever before all thanks to good content.
I say good content, because having any old content filling your website isn’t enough. The content on your website has to be relevant content, promoting the essence of your business, what you sell and your company’s message over-and-over again by establishing supporting content, articles, discussions, etc.
The moral of the story is this: to rise above your competition, you need to be better than your competition – and prove it. Become an expert in your field and support your website with as much information as you can that drills that message home. You’ll be happy with the results.