April 1, 2011

Quality Leads To SEO Sustainability

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In our previous post, we have shared to you the “The Mayhem Content Farms Bring To Digital Media Thinkers“. You may have now discovered and realized the big impact and the debilitating toll that content farms bring upon not only to the users of digital media, but also to high quality websites and their owners.

The issue of ‘quality’ over ‘quantity’ has long been a debate in the SEO world. Quality is taken for granted just to have that much quantity to increase the search engine rankings of a certain website. As these content farms continuously seek to obtain traffic by seeding low quality web content that ranks highly for long tail keywords and search phrases, users don’t get high quality information that they expect and need. These websites will only feature lots of advertisements and not much real substance. Furthermore, high quality information becomes so rare and hard to dig up because of the mass of low quality content and sites littering search engines.

Fortunately, Google and other search engines have, indeed, (as we say it!!) “awakened and smelled the coffee!!!!” Google’s Big Panda Update has long been awaited and is needed to be done. And so it was!!!

With this algorithm change that is set to reduce the value of content farm links, the ‘playing field’ is now even to both high-quality sites and content farms. The name of the game these days is to make your websites as high quality and useful, as possible. Although there are still websites that bank on seeking shortcuts instead of investing in quality, they should realize that there are definite risks to these shortcuts and that only high quality and hard-earned content will have long-term advantage.

Adam Audette (the founder and president of AudetteMedia) shares in his post at Search Engine Land the reasons why quality (given the algorithm change) is the only sustainable SEO approach. I believe in his conviction that if only quality, credibility, and authority could be algorithmically recognized, then they will definitely be based on a unique set of factors that can totally create signals in the new algorithm atmosphere. High quality SEOs and even content farmers should look at possible areas to explore such as the density of advertising, author names and titles, phone numbers and addresses, content density, the quality of the siteís link profile, badges and memberships in known organizations, and W3C compliance.

SEOs and website owners should look beyond the strategic methods of SEO and give ample attention to what users want and need. SEOs should look further than their obsession of SEO tactics and follow where Google is going. They should know and determine how visitors ‘feel’ their site(s) and how credible their web contents are. I quote Adam Audette when he posted “Chasing users, not algorithms, will have the best long-term influence on a site’s ranking.” (this is remarkably true!!!) Google and other search engines are aiming to capture audience share that depend on them for good information. You should always keep in mind Googleís primary goal which is to offer people (users) the most relevant answers to their questions as quickly as possible.

Link Metrics That Yield Higher Rankings

Here are the four main points that Audette want to share to his audience during his SearchFest presentation.

The Value of The URL. Most SEOs tend to preoccupy on keywords (thinking that it is where the money is totally revolving). Yet, while users make use of keywords for searching, these keywords are just a substitute for the people who use them. However, you need to rely on your quality resource that will attract and retain your keywords. In short, the URL (your quality resource) is where the value is in SEO.

What matters now is not the ranking, but the total traffic yield of the URL. Ranking reports are now even more meaningless. Google provides random results back for IPs and/or user agents that are grazing for rankings. This becomes a real problem for the clients as these ranking reports are specifically made for them.

Clients should understand that there is much better information than just relying on the ranking reports. They should look upon the traffic quantity in total keyword searches, the volume these searches have, the amount of traffic the URL see, the quality of the traffic (like the bounce rate that should be ideally low), the time average of page or site visit, and the conversion rate (which should be preferably high). Yet, it will take time for clients to grasp these much better information. Ranking reports has always been the way to SEO success.

The bottom line is- the URL is where the value is. Many criteria, including page scoring factors, are rolled up in the URL that is stored in a separate field in the search engine databases.

Maintain Your URLís power. This is basically the main reason why it is entirely important to preserve your URLs. Mature URLs can score best. Any redirect can hinder the success of your SEO. There have been some experiences when equity loss occurs when using 301s. To transfer equity, it is much better to employ rel canonical tag. The thought of being able to ìstoreî PageRank to be used later with a 301 paved the way for this decay in equity that is happening with permanent redirects currently.

However, Audette still suggests using 301 as it is the most potential method to permanently move content. Yet, you should not evade using rel canonical because it is not only a very strong signal for Google today, but it is also well embraced across the web.

Beyond Links. You need to realize that the game is not all about links. However, there was a time that links tend to brute force top rankings on aggressive SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

Audette made an analysis on several SERPs to discover the factors that mattered when it comes to links. His analysis gathered that the four biggest factors are domain authority, total domain links and unique domains, page specific links and uniques, and matching anchor texts. You can take a glimpse of Audette analysis in his post at Search Engine Land.

Link Factors in Search Algorithms. Although there are several link factors that needs to be considered (check Audetteís list at Why Quality is The Only Sustainable SEO Strategy), there are four link factors that (in no doubt) impact and influence performance. These are:

  • The domain authority of the ranking URL
  • The quantity and diversity of links into the domain
  • The quantity and diversity of links into the URL
  • The amount of matching anchors

But then again there are exceptions as every SERP is unique. It is also impossible to detach link scoring outside of on-page factors. Yet, rankings are more complex than links.

Realizing SEO Sustainability

Quality and scale must hold rock and influence of changes in algorithm. With Googleís shifts and modifications in its algorithm, it is best to focus on quality and the users instead of algorithms. If you do so, you can overcome even the most drastic algorithm adjustments. You can definitely avoid the negative consequences when you concentrate on the users, not on the algos!!!

Keep a scrutinizing eye on the algorithms. It is good that you know what is happening and the reasons behind it. Build your SEO tactics around your users, not around the algorithms.

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Jeremy Oms

Jeremy is an entrepreneur and leading manager of New Blood, Inc. Excited about all things Internet related, Jeremy spends much of his time project managing custom web applications and directing advanced search engine optimization efforts.

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