Everything You Need to Know About SEO (In 600 Words)
Google rankings are important due to their massive influence on web traffic. This importance has spawned a massive industry geared toward boosting website positions in search results. Of course, you know this.
So now you have a choice to make. You could follow others down the rabbit hole, spending hours and days on end retooling your website in accord with the SEO guidelines of the day – but that would be a mistake. Read on to see why and find out what you can do instead.
Write for People
The Internet savvy will be familiar with the existence of “black hat” SEO strategies – put briefly, these are practices which seek to circumvent Google’s goals and boost their page rank through unethical means. Link farms, gateway pages, and invisible content all find their home in shady corners of the web devoted to conning search engines.
Besides their unethical nature, these strategies are bad business. Google promises user quality, relevant content through its search tools. Sites that undermine that business goal set themselves up to be targeted by Google – if the search giant finds you employing these strategies, it will stop you. Constantly racing to stay ahead of one of the world’s largest corporations is a sure route to failure.
Some people back away from unethical black hat methods and instead focus on more mainstream keyword-tuning. You could spend hours each day delving into keyword statistics, planning out a comprehensive strategy to land your site at the top of the ranking for specific words.
But I would advise against it, because that mentality also suffers from a serious downfall – Google’s every changing algorithms. The algorithms you’re optimizing for today could be totally different tomorrow. Many a blogger has awoken one day to find that their once highly-ranked site has plummeted to page two, all because of updates in Google’s search algorithms.
The best bet is to write for people. Black hat SEO and keyword stuffing won’t take you very far because those strategies miss the point: Google offers search results for people. If you craft compelling content that people find valuable, you’ll find yourself in a good position for the long haul. Google can overhaul their algorithm, but their changes always aim to facilitate people’s search for quality content.
Google Moves Towards People
Google’s new search algorithm (nicknamed Hummingbird) is a radical game-changer. It seeks to understand the context of search terms, treating questions as whole queries rather than a string of individual words.
Once, when a user searched for a query – like, “what is the best way to do SEO?” – Google would look for each word individually: “best” and “way” and “SEO.” It would aggregate the results. Hummingbird takes a different flight path, analyzing the whole question and attempting to understand the context it is being asked in. Then it returns the pages with the best answers.
To provide a good answer, you’ll need to write for people, not algorithms. It’s the same core SEO truth that I’ve been pushing for years. But it’s now more true than ever before. These recent changes underscore the fact that Google’s algorithm changes. That’s why it’s a risky bet to ignore people.
Writing for the algorithm is a short-term tactic, while writing for people is a long-term strategy.
I’m not arguing for a complete abandonment of keywords – after all, Google still cares about them. Equally important, popular keywords are the language that people use when talking about a subject. As a result, including keywords can in fact bolster your content’s ability to connect with people.
Still, keywords are just a means to an end. That end has always been to engage real people in your content, and the truth is that embracing that approach will also set you up better for search rankings in the long haul.
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