Leaving Work Behind

The Ultimate SEO Strategy (Featuring A Liberal Serving Of Irony)

Written by Tom Ewer on July 18, 2011. 7 Comments

The Ultimate SEO StrategyI have to be honest with you – I am getting fed up of the proliferation of the attention-grabbing headline. Quite rightly, experienced internet marketers advise that only x% of people will get past your article’s title. If you make the title more engaging, then more people are likely to read your article.

This is all well and good until you get an internet’s worth of hacks spawning awful articles with eye-catching titles. I mean really, how many “ULTIMATE” guides can there be? That is why you will find very few articles at my blog featuring titles stuffed to bursting point with hyperbole. Yes, it is not a good blogging strategy by a lot of people’s definition, but I don’t like to mislead my audience.

Having said that, I honestly believe that this article can stand true to its title’s claim, and the whole eye-catching title/rubbish article content endemic provides a fitting analogy.

What Hat Are You Wearing?

Let’s talk first about “white hat” and “black hat” SEO techniques. I need to lay down my definitions of these well-worn phrases. It is really quite simple – I define white hat techniques as those that align with Google’s aims in serving its customers, and I define black hat techniques as those that do not. It does not need to get any more complicated than that.

Black Hat

In the case of my article title analogy, your black hat SEO is represented by the chap with an enticing title, but awful content. The reader is fooled into clicking through to the article, only to leave frustrated moments later. In a similar way, Google is initially fooled by black hat SEO techniques, only to eventually discover the ruse and dump the site down the listings.

Black hat SEO is never a sustainable strategy, unless you are willing to attempt to constantly outthink one of the largest corporations in the world. Quite frankly, that is not something I have the time nor the inclination to do. More importantly than that (and call me naive), I want to provide value to the end user. Black hat SEO techniques offer value to no one.

White Hat

Moving on with our analogy, we have the chap who writes great content, with a relevant but unflashy title. This is our white hat SEO guy. So what is his strategy? It is probably nothing you haven’t heard before, and perhaps you don’t want to hear it, but it is quite simply the ultimate SEO strategy.

Google’s Aim

Earlier I defined white hat techniques as those that align with Google’s aims. So let’s follow that through. Google’s ultimate aim is to make money. In order to make money, they need customers. In order to attract and retain customers, they need to provide a quality service. They are in the business of search, and as such, they need to provide quality search results. To the end user, quality search results are (a) relevant and (b) of a good quality. Therefore, white hat techniques are those that align with promoting relevant and good quality content.

How Google Achieves Its Aim

So how does Google know what is relevant and of a good quality on the internet? Well, it may be backed up by mind-boggling algorithms, but it is beautifully simple in principle. If a relevant site links to your site, then Google, quite reasonably, can assume that the site considers your content both relevant and of a good quality. If many relevant sites also link to yours, then Google sits up and takes note.

Additionally, Google considers your site’s content in order to assess (a) what keywords it is relevant to and (b) the relevance of sites linking to it. There is more, but the two principles of backlinks and content form the core of Google’s interest in your site.

So, That “Ultimate” Strategy…

The ultimate SEO strategy is actually very simple in principle. Write relevant content that other people will feel compelled to link to. That’s what our chap with his great article with an uninspiring title did. But then you need to take it further. Promote that content to those people. Spread the word and make it known. Get your content syndicated. The power of relevant links to your site will soon become apparent.

The internet is still in its relative infancy, but the story still remains the same, even when it comes to blogging. Create great information. Expose it to your relevant audience. They will love it, and they will link to it. Your blog will climb the rankings. And as every internet marketer loves to say: rinse and repeat.

Well That’s All Very Simple…

…But of course it isn’t.

First of all, writing great content is no mean feat. Producing something that stands out from the crowd, that grabs people’s attention and compels them to link to it, is extremely difficult. Great writing ability, having an encyclopedic knowledge of one’s topic, having a unique voice, and plenty of practice will help improve your abilities.

This article is a mere 1,000 words long, which any SEO expert would claim (quite rightly) is not nearly enough to fully explore SEO in depth. I could go into far more detail about outbound linking, writing regular content, Page Rank, and much more. But that will have to wait for another article, as although they are necessary things to consider, they run secondary to what should be your main aims.

If you take on board the key principles touched upon in this article, you will be well placed to make friends with Google.

How About You?

Do you consider your strategy white hat or black hat? There are certainly “grey hat” strategies out there too – what works for you?

Photo courtesy of britl

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7 Responses to “The Ultimate SEO Strategy (Featuring A Liberal Serving Of Irony)”

  1. Jayne
    August 6, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Hi Tom, I am white hat all the way, trying to build a community for job creation with 0 marketing messages and only valuable content. Although I’m wondering if anyone would actually admit to being black hat or even gray hat ;>) But what I really like about your post is that it’s true of other things besides SEO. My current pet peeve is “coaching.” That’s the new scam term, as far as I’m concerned, and for those of us who are trained and certified coaches it’s really frustrating. You’ve inspired me to think about what would constitute white hat coaching and black hat coaching. Thanks!

    • Tom Ewer
      August 7, 2011 at 11:47 am

      Hello Jayne! I agree with you about coaching – there are far too many self-qualified people out there offering poor advice.

  2. Chris | Sminso
    March 7, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Love your approach! A lot of people try to make SEO complicated, it really comes down to great content = links = higher rankings.


    • Tom Ewer
      March 7, 2012 at 10:34 pm

      Yep. Of course, there is a lot you can do to better your rankings, but SEO at its most basic level should be just what you say.

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