Good SEO is about quality, not quantity

Quality Street ® by Alex Brown

I’ve read three articles recently that have inspired me to write this post:

The first was this excellent post from Christopher S Penn on the enduring rule of SEO. The second, a timely reminder from Google about selling links that pass PageRank. And finally, this deep-dive analysis of Interflora’s penalty for bad links by Christoph C. Cemper.

Add value through great content

All three articles have one big thing in common: SEO is about adding value by creating content that people want to share and link to.

Creating content that people will really value isn’t easy – that’s why SEO is considered earned media. Unlike paid search or advertising, good SEO cannot be achieved through quick fixes and short-term tactics. A good presence in the SERPs has to be earned over time through focused effort and considerate approach to SEO. But unfortunately sometimes the advantages of natural search traffic can motivate shady behaviour to try and ‘cheat’ the system.

Good SEO takes time, effort and hard work

Those looking to get genuinely good natural search results by trickery and dodgy tactics remind me of people who fall for the ‘6 pack in 6 minutes’ commercials. Just as getting into shape takes hard work, focus and a committed regime, so does SEO. Some ‘grey hat’ tactics can indeed work in the short term but they’re unlikely to be scaleable. And if they are scaled can land you in trouble (as Interflora found to their detriment in recent weeks!).

It’s important to understand that search engines, like Google, want to provide the most relevant search results for users. And in order to do so, they have devised algorithms that allows them to index sites based on a number of ranking factors. However, because search engines want to present relevant results, unethical tactics to ‘game’ the system are often frowned upon.

Don’t chase the algorithm

Whilst it’s important to recognise ranking factors and optimise websites accordingly, website owners shouldn’t try and ‘chase the algorithm’.

The Panda and Penguin algorithm updates over the past 18 months – 2 years have proved that Google are constantly tweaking and optimising the way they crawl and index websites. Just as keyword stuffing or building large quantities of spammy links used to work for SEO, they don’t any more and the sites that built their search strategies around these types of tactics suffered as a consequence.

The websites who are succeeding are the ones that have a clear strategy based on:

  • A relevant set of keywords and phrases related to the site
  • Best practice on-page SEO
  • Helpful, value-adding and shareable content
  • Quality links
  • Effective technical SEO

I’ve written before about SEO basics and best practices.

Good SEO is about quality, not quantity

This post is hardly original and it’s something that’s been stated ad nauseum by hundreds of SEO and digital marketing bloggers around the world. But ‘ethical’ SEO is something I believe in and I felt I needed to make my views clear here.

It may be tempting to look for shortcuts but the road to good SEO is about quality content that people value and not just the quantity of inbound links you can generate for a site.