Ace Ventura Pet Detective was quite possibly my favorite movie to come out of the 90s. When I was a kid, my parents offered me a guitar and lessons in exchange for giving up television. I accepted and therefore we had very little to watch. I did, however, own 2 VHS tapes. One was Batman and the other was Ace Ventura. So naturally, I memorized every single line in the movie and to this day can spout it out simultaneously as if I were a young girl singing along with my favorite Justin Bieber song.
What does this have to do with SEO and Marketing you may ask? Probably little-to-nothing for most. However, I personally find one particular scene from this movie playing out in my head almost every time I try to explain to someone looking to “learn SEO” what exactly SEO is in today’s world of Google Webspam teams and link building (1994 Spoiler Alert Incoming):
No I don’t think SEO is a transgender post-op ex-NFL place kicker looking to exact revenge on the team and city that ruined his/her life. Nor do I think this particular spoof of The Crying Game was even that strong of a scene in an otherwise hilarious movie. (Unless you ask my Comcast TV Guide who apparently has a very bitter resentment towards this film.)
When I start explaining the way people should approach their link building and SEO efforts a chant starts up in my head. “SEO is Marketing. Marketing IS SEO! SEO IS MARKETING!!” And the connection is made. But inevitably whoever is seeking this knowledge will begin wondering what I mean by this. So allow me to explain.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEO
Search Engine Optimization is quite possibly the most quickly evolving trade in the digital world. I would say that it definitely is the fastest changing facet of the marketing world, but that would go against my entire point. Because marketing is SEO. Remember?
SEO used to be a race to get the most links while embedding them with anchor text that matches whatever keyword you were trying to rank for. For example, if you were selling temperpedic mattresses you would be on the hunt for places to drop links that said “temperpedic mattresses.” Eventually, this service was farmed out to websites that would submit your link to thousands of irrelevant sites across the web for cheap. And that’s when trouble started brewing.
WHEN THE PENGUIN COMES AROUND
Google’s Spam Team quickly noticed this trend as it began clogging the internet with spammy links and garbage websites. The link submission services were creating links on forums, blog comments, and article sites with poorly written content drafted by somebody who clearly does not speak English. So instead of going after the myriad of sites housing these links, Google decided to encourage the sites that were obtaining these links to cease doing so. Thus, Penguin was born.
Penguin identifies unnatural link building and penalizes your site for such acts. The penalties range from mild to severe and are incredibly hard to predict. There is no guarantee that you will avoid them nor is there a guarantee that you will be penalized if your backlink profile is a bit shady. But what is for certain is that Google has clearly stated that this is no longer the way to get your website ranked on page 1 of it’s results.
SEO IS MARKETING & CONTENT IS KING
Okay so if SEO is no longer an effort to build as many links as possible from any and every webpage known to man then what is it? Today’s SEO is nothing more than optimized engaging content that not only captures the reader’s attention but draws them in and begs them to share it with their peers. Sounds a lot like marketing, doesn’t it? Well that’s because it is. SEO is marketing targeted specifically at online audiences, social media users and Google searchers.
There are still a ton of “SEO” guys out there that do things the old way. However, the best sites with the best results are being crafted by SEOs who are building interesting and/or entertaining original content. What happens when you come across something interesting and amazing online? Do you email the link to your friends? Do you post the link on Twitter or Facebook? Or do you perhaps drop the link on your website or blog?
More and more this is what people are doing, and Google is noticing that. They recognize that the more a site is shared socially and across other reputable and highly trafficked sites, the more likely it is to be useful and authoritative. Because let’s face it, if you come across a poorly written article about great hair products from a link on a hip-hop message board you’re most likely going to leave that site in 15 seconds flat and never think about it again.
Therefore we are forced to build high-value content that engages the reader and hopefully gives them a reason and a desire to come back. This can be accomplished in many different ways depending on what your product, service, or offering happens to be.
Examples of Original Content That Could Win You Links:
- Videos (embedded on YOUR site)
- Engaging blog articles w/charts and graphs
- Slideshare Decks
- Funny pictures
- Simple animations
- Surveys (prizes are always a plus!)
Alright Fine! I’ve Built Some Content. Now What?
So you’ve taken my advice and focused your efforts on building entertaining, engaging and informative content. Now how do you get it discovered? There are many ways to accomplish this task, and in my experience each business/organization will find a particular technique or two that will work best for them. Some might have more success in social media campaigns while others might have more success guest blogging on relative websites.
The best bet is to begin by identifying where your content would fit and who it would be relevant to. Do a bit of Googling based on your niche and figure out what sites are lacking in content and could use something that you’ve created. Once you’ve done so, don’t hesitate to contact webmasters and/or send messages via social media sites to introduce yourself. Explain in a courteous manner who you are, what you have, and why you think your content would benefit their site. Add them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, drop your infographics on Pinterest, create a circle on Google Plus and develop a following for each. If your content is strong you will have people seeking out your authorship/creative assistance in no-time. And once they do, all you’ll need to request is one little relative link back to the site you’re marketing.
That is the groundwork for a successful marketing campaign which in turn becomes a beneficial method of increasing your search engine rankings. Relevance is everything and content is king!
**disclaimer: I do not work for nor am I affiliated with the Mattress Ranch in any way, shape, or form. I simply enjoy their ridiculously campy commercials.