20 Feb The #1 Strategy for SEO Success in 2015 And Beyond
Google, the most-used search engine in the world, launched on September 4th 1998. Today, some 17 years later Google processes 40,000 search queries a second, which is equivalent to 3.5 billion searches per day. However you cut it that’s a lot of people looking for a website just like yours.
But there’s a problem.
Internet Live Stats records that there are now over 1.2 billion websites online right now. Wikipedia estimates there to be 156 million blogs in existence. WordPress alone claims 75.8 million live blogs use its software. In other words, competition for those searches is steeper than ever before, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to compete in today’s online marketplace.
The question is what the winners are doing differently to everyone else to succeed? More succinctly what is the single most important tip we can learn – and apply to our own websites – in order to maximize our chances of success?
2 Key Considerations for SEO Success
Ask yourself a question: when was the last time you actively shared a website with a friend? When did you last fire up your email client or your Facebook profile in order to share a website with someone else? Furthermore, why did you decide to share that specific link?
The sad truth is that with over a billion websites in existence it’s all too easy to “merge into the background” these days. Try carrying out a search in Google and you’ll find that many of the websites you find offer broadly similar content, a largely similar layout and design and more. To a greater or lesser degree they’re clones.
And when every website is the same, what’s to make one site more worthy of sharing than another? What makes Google more or less likely to rank site A ahead of site B when they’re both essentially the same site with a different logo on the top?
Google first released its so-called Panda algorithm in February 2011. Since then numerous iterations and “improvements” have been rolled out, but what exactly is Panda all about? In essence this new ranking factor was designed specifically to reward sites that offer significant, unique and valuable content. On the other hand, the same algorithm openly penalized sites that offer little original content – what have become known as “thin sites” due to their lack of substance and originality.
In other words, Panda was designed, at least in part, to separate the “me too” sites from the real front-runners. After all, why should Google bother ranking dozens of almost identical sites? What is the real benefit for the searcher?
In the introduction to this article I cited a number of startling statistics. I also, as all good writers should, linked to the source documents to back up my claims. That benefits me – because you know I’m not making stuff up to get your attention. It benefits you – because you can verify my claims and learn more from the sources linked. And of course it benefits the sites I linked to – they just gathered a few more links.
But these aren’t just any links – they’re natural, organic, genuine links. Those websites don’t know me. They haven’t paid me to link to them. Infact, I’ve never even spoken to their owners. But I linked to them because of (and only because of) the unique content they offered.
Natural Link Building
While SEO always has been largely about link building, the links pointing to a site can largely be segregated into two classes. On the one hand, there are “artificial” links – those that are manually built with the goal of improving search engine rankings.
Then there are “natural links” – defined by Google as links that “develop as part of the dynamic nature of the web when other sites find your content valuable and think it would be helpful for their visitors”. Google also claims to be getting better and better at telling natural from artificial links – and that natural links (or at least natural looking links) are becoming ever more important.
To achieve these links of course your site will need to offer value. It will need to be so good that other websites will want to naturally link to it.
SEO of the Future
What does all this mean? The answer is that having a “me too” site is no longer enough. Going forward, search engines like Google will be rewarding sites offering unique, valuable content. Your “template site” offering little more than any of your competitors simply won’t cut it. And this situation only seems to be growing by the day.
Let’s imagine for a moment that you run a removals firm, and you want to rank your website more highly. The truth is that Google doesn’t rank websites on how good your business is. It won’t rank you higher because your prices are cheaper or your customer service is better or because you’ve been in business for 20 years. It will rank you more highly because you have more unique content and better links.
Your mission, as the site owner, then becomes one of creativity and originality. Your goal should be to create the single most useful and valuable website possible in order to naturally attract links and mentions in other websites.
How Do I Start?
The first step in understanding today’s SEO environment is to take a look at your close competitors.
Look at the sites of those businesses that you always seem to be pitted against. Look at the sites of those businesses who are already ranked for the keyword phrases you want to rank for. Look for patterns in what seems to be working. Furthermore look for “content gaps” – those areas and topics that will be of interest to your customers – yet which nobody seems to be filling.
These gaps represent opportunities to create valuable content that can act as “link bait” for other websites. These gaps are where you can turn your “me too” site into something truly valuable to your potential customers. They’re what can represent the difference between winning and losing in today’s competitive environment.
From here the goal is to take your research and apply it to your site. Make the investment in content to create assets that will benefit you for years to come. The results may not be immediately measurable, but over time these articles, guides, videos and resources will help to make your site unique and valuable. More importantly it’ll give you the very best chance of ranking your site because – let’s be honest – such a site is just so much better than all the competition.
These days, more than ever before, creating a truly memorable website filled with useful content is more important than ever before. No longer are a website and the process of link building separate entities; instead they are becoming ever more intertwined than ever before.
A great site not only makes link building much, much easier, but also increases the chances of naturally attracting the kinds of links that Google loves.
So the summarize, and answer our original question, what is the best way to win at SEO in 2015? By investing in creating unique, valuable content resources that naturally attract social shares and links. That’s how.