If you’re reading this then chances are that you’re not an Internet purist. You don’t build websites for artistic reasons, spilling your guts about what is philosophically, transcendentally, or intrinsically eminent to your soul and being. You build sites to make money, pure and simple.
You utilize the famed “information super highway” by setting up shop by its off ramps, hoping somebody stops in. You are told that traffic brought in from the search engines is key to online success, and you’re determined to have a bus stop right outside your shop.
Everybody shouts, “search engine optimization!” And they usually mean that in a dirty way. Content barely gets a mention in the face of the flash-in-the-pan magicians promising rapid keyword tweaking and spider trickery to generate traffic. What many will promise is a way to get dropped in the fabled Google sandbox, as SEO often aims to please search engines, not people.
But it is people that really drive your success, and it is content that drives people to your site, even if they use a search engine interstate to get there. What good does it do if Google refers a million visitors to your site if they don’t find what they’re looking for?
Most searchers are window shoppers. If they don’t like what they see in the window, then they’re not coming back. Without content, your site becomes a ghost town with a big “Road Closed” sign in front of it.
Bookmarking is the sincerest form of Internet flattery, and this story is about building loyalty through content. If your version of SEO is closer to SEM (search engine manipulation) an algorithm change can sink you like a devalued stock, all in the name of search purity.
That leaves you to find the balance between content and the various methods used to get a high search engine ranking. And really, its not so much a balance, as it should be 80% content with some other stuff worked in for strategic reasons.
If its content that visitors and search engine spiders are looking for, then feed it to them. (Write it, and they will come.)
In addition to keyword relevancy, one of the main things an algorithm measures is the length of time visitors spend at a site. It also measures popularity by incoming links from other web pages. So how do you use this information to produce a user-friendly site? Here are some ways to make content the vehicle that drives your web success.
Market yourself as an expert in your field.
If you’ve set up a whole website on a particular topic, then you’ve got a great opportunity to talk about something you know a lot about. Write about it. Write about often. Make it appear that your content is first, and your product is second. If you sell widgets, provide information on widgets and all things related to widgets first. Most likely, a searcher wants to be educated first and to buy second. If you keep your readers interested enough to keep reading, you increase your chances of your visitor coming back. Better, you increase your chances of the visitor bringing somebody back with them.
Refer to other experts in your field.
Begin the link exchange by linking to others who can also offer quality content (though, not necessarily others who are selling the same thing). Ask them to do the same for you and the most efficient type of networking you can find has begun. This is purely a PR move, so the best sites to link to are those with regularly updated press releases, newsletters, and research-sites that are more pure form in information provisions.
Keep the content interactive, fresh, original, varied, and free.
Discussion boards, forums, blogs, and FAQ’s give readers great opportunity and motivation to come to your site and stay at your site. Give them a voice in your own throat and they’ll never shut up. Take content submissions and provide access to articles, ebooks, white pages, and anything else relevant. You need a bunch of content to optimize your site-about 20 pages or more to put its best foot forward.
Free stuff counts as content.
Link to or provide as much free stuff as you can-downloads, software, information, prizes, whatever. It helps if they have a required link back to your website. People take free stuff they don’t even need, and then come back for more. Give free stuff, give new free stuff, and then give it again.
About the Author: Jason L. Miller is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.