In the early days of the internet, SEO was a science. Put your keywords here, put some links in, submit your site to these directories. And hey presto, you were on the first page of the search engines results pages.
Those days are gone though. Search engine algorithms are getting very clever. No-one out side of Google HQ knows exactly how the rankings are decided and even if you did, a lot of the key criteria are no longer things that you can directly control anyway.
This means that SEO specialists have a much harder time setting out exactly what needs to be done to achieve the best rankings. The notion of a simple formula to achieve top rankings has gone out of the window.
As a result, SEO is becoming increasingly abstract, and the best results are being achieved by those who go about their SEO in a more holistic way. It is becoming less about what keywords you use and more about how your blog/site is received by its users.
How to get your blog to the top of Google
Here is what it comes down to: Google has become successful by offering its users the most helpful and relevant results, it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good.
Now a days, the real ‘secret’ to SEO is focusing on your users. Build blogs that people will keep returning to, and will keep linking to. You will get far more effective, and higher quality links from people you don’t even know than you will from most of the traditional link building strategies you might learn from some “gurus”.
When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Google’s primary aim is to find the sites that are the most helpful for its users. You want your site to be in Google’s list of the most helpful sites, and the easiest way to do that is to make sure your site really is helpful. If your users enjoy your site, they will keep coming back again and again and your site will slowly but surely rise up the ranks.
So what’s the upshot?
All of this is really a good thing. There is an awful lot of competition out there, but the search engines are getting very good at finding the sites that offer real value to their visitors. Whatever blog or website you run, you need to be focusing on writing for your readers anyway, but now you get doubly rewarded for your efforts.
It is time to stop thinking about SEO as something separate from the rest of your blog marketing and start thinking about everything – link building, usability, content and reader satisfaction – as one synergistic group. If you make your site usable, helpful and valuable, you will get more sign ups, more links, more traffic and better search results.
Believe it or not, the internet has finally gotten to the point where you are rewarded for building a site for your users, rather than building it for the search engines. We are certainly still in the change over, and there will be a few “black hats” out there clinging on to the old ways, but in the long run it will be the true, user centric bloggers and web masters who win out.
Just don’t get carried away and leave out the old-fashioned SEO methods all together. The key is to include all the critical factors. If you write great content but don’t get the ball rolling with a few links, no one will ever find you. If you generate hundreds of links but don’t write decent content then you will lose the traffic just as quickly as you get it.
What’s my point?
I guess basically what I’m getting at is this: In the coming months/years we will increasingly find that the things which have the greatest impact on our blogs search engine rankings will be those things that benefit our readers and improve the overall quality of said blogs.
So if you want to rank right at the top, ahead of all the competition, you still need to do those other things that you always have done. But never lose site of what matters the very most… Your users.