What does search engine optimization mean for online entrepreneurs in 2012? In short, it means the same thing as it did five years ago. Webmasters and content creators may have come up with new techniques in an effort to keep pace with Google updates like Panda and Penguin. These, however, are simply tactics in what should amount to the same strategy: organizing a website that ultimately puts users first. By focusing your SEO on your customers instead of attempting to react to changing paradigms, you’ll stay ahead of the game.
All Hail King Content
Now more than ever, content truly is king. Keep in mind that the search engines were created with user needs in mind. It may have been possible in the past to build a keyword-stuffed, link-happy affiliate site and game the system, inching out profits. However, is that an Internet that any of us really want to browse? Search engine updates and sophistication are fantastic because they result in a better experience for the user and force innovative, idea-driven websites to the top. At the end of the day, people crave real information, creativity and personality. Fill your website with content that brings something to the table, and then focus on making consumers and readers aware of what you offer. The best marketing strategy is still word of mouth. In fact, the entire web is essentially one giant arena to organize word of mouth.
Keep it Fresh
Trending, likes, status updates and their bedfellows have given even more power to the common web user. Search engines increasingly respond favorably to “fresh” subjects, and why shouldn’t they? Thousands and millions of nods of approval add up and demand attention. Update your site regularly with information that is valuable to your audience, but don’t become obsessed with trying to fill your site with content that ends up being uninspired. If you try to jump on a bandwagon, you’ll probably get lost in the crowd. If you can forecast a trend, go ahead and make some moves. If you can create a trend, you’ll have the rest of the group following you.
Keywords of the Future
SEO is about putting yourself in the position of somebody using a search engine. You know from firsthand experience how this goes. You seek an answer, you formulate a phrase that hopefully reflects your question, you type, you scroll and you browse until you find what you’re looking for. Hopefully it’s on the first page. The more you click and scan, the more frustrated you become, and the more likely you are to give up. Always go through this thought process when you’re considering your keyword selection. Include your targeted keyword(s) in your article title, perhaps the description, and once or twice in your post depending on length. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of stuffing your content full of keywords in an attempt to “grab” all the searches you can. Your writing will suffer, your readers will suffer, and your SEO will have failed before it even started.
A Link to the Past
Quality trumps quantity, and nowadays your site will actually suffer if you stuff it full of unhelpful links. Search engines will seek you out for penalization. Focus your efforts on including links from highly ranked sites that are trusted authorities in their fields, and find a way to organize and track your backlinks. Additionally, the influence of social media websites can’t be underestimated. Maintain a presence on the major sites by building a reliable online reputation, seeking high ratings and shares from other reliable sources, and engaging with your audience.
User experience is once again paramount. Create your website with the user in mind, and you can’t go wrong when search engine bots scroll it for consistency. Site navigation and user experience doesn’t need to be complicated or flashy. Make sure your site is intuitive to use, loads quickly, and has relevant, active links.
Set the Pace for the Search Engines
Web users are only going to become more sophisticated, and the search engines will reflect that. Offer something unique and forge your own path. Remember, content and in effect, searching for content, is not limited to words and text. Utilize the capabilities of the online world and include video, audio, charts and graphs, and anything else you can imagine that is genuinely interesting and informative.
Build something truly unique, and then optimize your content to attract an audience. The search engines are there to serve the same customers and consumers as you. Don’t react by generating content that you feel will suit the search engines. Act by creating value and letting the search engines work for you.
Matthew Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur, and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Adam. Matthew is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.