New SEO Strategies Required
Last week, we examined changes Google has initiated relating to hyperlinks that are set in guest blog posts and press releases. According to the new Google guidelines released July 18, these links should now be set with a “no-follow” tag to prevent the Google robots from following or passing through any page rank or SEO strength. As guest posting and press releases have been effective ways to promote a Website, this requires a careful rethinking of the best strategies to build Website strength and attract readers.
This latest Google change is significant. It focuses the Search Engine Optimization or SEO effort on inspiring others to link to content on their own. Google has long preached the importance of great quality content that others would link to, but the July 18 change appears to be a significant step towards enforcing some of these rules. Press releases or content distributions that contain “followable” links may invite a Google penalty resulting in lower search engine result page placements.
What to Do?
How then do organizations actually inspire others to link to their Websites and avoid Google penalties? There appear to be three primary focus areas to building Website search strength following these changes:
- Creating great content (of course!)
- Telling others about it, and
- Treating visitors well once they arrive
Creating great content to which others would link to takes time and effort. Internal research findings, customer statistics and user stories require effort to compile but can provide the kind of value that attracts readers. Website owners that cite your discoveries, observations and findings and reference your page produce the kind of good quality, natural links that help in search engine placement.
Statistics that an organization has collected that would benefit others in the industry also makes great content. Problem solving stories or case studies also seem to attract traffic and retain reader interest.
After investing time and skill in developing good information, it only makes sense to tell others about it. This can take the form of email campaigns or social media outreach. Just posting the content won’t attract much attention.
Treating Visitors Well:
Search engines evaluate how visitors interact with a Website. The search engines want to understand if the readers they refer to particular sites believe that they have found the information they sought. If readers spend time on the page, consume the content and perhaps visit other pages within the Website, the search engines can be confident that their referral provided what the reader wanted. If readers get what they want, the search engines will know to place that result higher on the results page.
User behavior such as “pogosticking” – where users jump from search results page to result and back again to visit a different result – provide insight as to which result users find the most valuable for a given search term. The result that captures and retains the reader indicates to the search engines which result is the most relevant.
The Future of SEO
In many ways, these latest guideline changes put a Public Relations focus on the SEO practice. Generating great content, producing good stories, attracting attention, building relationships and reaching out to others in one’s industry are all core elements of the Public Relations business. Good communication skill, the ability to produce and present complex information and building relationships with others are core competencies of most Public Relations practices. These skills now also appear to be at the center of the SEO process.
Read last week’s article about how Google is modifying its definition of Link Schemes.