In the past, keyword stuffing in content, URLs, and landing pages were a popular form of search engine optimization, designed to trick Google into thinking your website had more to offer than it really did. Those tactics are now a huge faux pas as Google will penalize your website, causing your ranking to plummet. Some other bad SEO practices that can earn you a penalty include publishing poor quality content, over-optimizing anchor text, and reusing meta keywords too much. Basically, if Google suspects that the content you are publishing is intended to manipulate page rank rather than deliver value, you will be penalized.
Sounds harsh, right? The reality is that your customers online are Google’s customers first. Google wants to deliver the most helpful, relevant, and accurate results to its searchers. To do that, it’s working harder than ever to cut through the garbage and give priority to the websites doing all the right things.
Paid Search = Quick, Costly, and Temporary
Staying current with changes to search engine algorithms can be a full time job and as a result, some small business owners have decided to give paid search a try. Yes, it can be tempting as paid search typically will offer your business benefits such as having your website appear on page one of search results, helping to drive an immediate flow of traffic to your website. However, paid search often comes with a hefty price tag, and it generally proves to not be as effective or cost-efficient as an organic SEO strategy in the long term. Results are quick, costly, and temporary.
The alternative to paid search is an organic strategy, one designed to provide your business with the resources and content that Google is looking for when displaying search results.
What Is Organic SEO?
An organic SEO strategy is the process used to achieve a natural placement in Google’s search engine results. By regularly producing high quality content in the form of blog posts, whitepapers, ebooks, and social media posts, and optimizing the content for keywords and authoritative links, businesses are able to earn their way to the first page of search results without having to continually pay for the placement. Organic search results are free, preventing your business from having to pay an unpredictable amount for clicks like they would with a paid search strategy. Also, organic search results are long-lasting, while paid search results can disappear into thin air if you stop making payments.
I recently came across this powerful quote from Bartley Wilson, the CIO of WPiX Corp, and it really resonated with me because it helps to illustrate the expense and inefficiency of paying for traditional SEO strategies:
If you don’t produce new content, then Google has an expensive option for you: paying for Google Adwords until the day you die, or your business dies.
Position Yourself As An Expert
Small business owners today have a unique opportunity to position themselves as industry experts by delivering high quality, relevant content to their online audience. In order to create informative content that will also add value to readers, it’s important to know the issues and challenges that your target audience is having as they relate to your industry. Ideally, these are topics that your audience would type into a search engine query to arrive at your website.
By creating high quality content that appeals to your target audience versus search engines, you will naturally earn a top ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). Using tools like a content calendar can keep you accountable and organized as you meet your weekly or monthly goals for content creation. Whatever it is that you do, and however you craft your organic strategy, the important thing to remember is that if you’re providing value back to your customers (read: Google’s customers), ranking on the first page and at the top will come naturally, as it should.