There has long been a spy-vs-spy game between search engines, who look for certain things to bring quality content to the top of their pages, and those who try and use the search engine’s systems to bring their own content up in ranking regardless of quality. Each refinement in the algorithm may help to weed out some of the worst offenders, and can make certain forms of SEO optimization no longer useful. However, can true quality content rise to the top of the ranks without using some SEO to help it be found, or will those methods destroy the quality? This is the question that anyone who is in charge of content and marketing must balance to find the best combination of intrinsic value and discover-ability.
What Should You Ask Regarding SEO Choices?
Rather than recommending a certain SEO strategy, which may or may not be useful whenever Google does their next algorithm upgrade, here are some things to ask about your content whenever you employ any optimization:
1. What is the Life of the Work?: Are you writing long-tail, evergreen work or is it something with a short shelf life? Evergreen work is at a higher risk of SEO backlash, where trending topics with short-term applicability can be heavily marketed with SEO with little concern that the techniques will expire before the content does.
2. Does the Optimization Change the Quality?: High-level content, once found, can get a large following based on its true value. However, if the quality drops based on an attempt to reach a larger audience, then it’s not worthwhile. It may bring viewers to your page, but it will make them less likely to return.
3. What Options are Available that Leave Your Content Unharmed?: The trick to SEO is to find ways to get the notice you require without hurting the work. It is also to consider whether you are employing SEO methods that may, in the future, drop you to the bottom of the search engine list because the search engines think that you’re gaming the system. Look not only at the quality of your standalone content without optimization as well as the quality of work that is being published with the SEO strategies you’re employing. This will be a clue to whether your work will make it through the next round of upgrades to the search engine.
If you can’t find a safe strategy that passes these three factors, then it may be time to think outside of the box when it comes to marketing. If you are providing quality content that provides a service, particularly to an under-served niche, then once you have found your audience, you will likely have a loyal group of returning readers that can help you to up your ranking in the way that search engines were meant to be designed. Best of all, it means you don’t have to worry that your highest-ranked content will suddenly find itself impossible to find after the newest episode of spy vs. spy.