Stop Trying to Game the System

As expected, I’m seeing lots of “2011 in review” and “predictions for 2012″ posts in my reader and inbox. One topic that’s showing up again and again is Panda. If you’ve not heard of Google Panda, here is a quick overview straight from the horse’s mouth…

“Our goal is simple: to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible. This requires constant tuning of our algorithms, as new content—both good and bad—comes online all the time.” – Google Webmaster Blog, from the Panda Announcement

In an effort to eliminate spam and irrelevant search results, Google has spent the past year making major updates as well as minor tweaks to their search algorithm (code-named Panda). Basically, Google is working to improve the user experience of the people using their search tool by eliminating the junk from the listings.

We are often asked about different “tricks” for showing up higher in the search results. Our clients are inundated with conflicting information about the best ways to rank in Google. But, look back at what Google says about its own updates…

“…give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible.”

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What’s the secret? Produce a quality website that offers quality information, correctly and effectively. Think about the user and stop trying to game the system. Instead focus on the user experience. What does the user want or need? How will they find it and what will they do with it once they have?

Instead of trying to implement SEO tactics trying to fool the search engines into listing your site higher than your competition, focus on writing useful content that is rich with keywords. This means your site has a content strategy focusing on targeting a specific user with information they want.

And when you’ve produced this content, share it. Use your social channels and affiliates to promote and share this content with your target audience. These social signals and back-links to your site will help Google’s spiders find your content and rank it appropriately.

I am not saying that all SEO consists of tricks. It is important to optimize a site for search engine visibility (H1 tags, page titles, meta descriptions, ALT attributes) and make sure you are creating links back to that site. Just keep in mind that if something seems too easy or a little shady, there might be something to that.

The problem with tactics is that they rely on the idea that you know something Google doesn’t. You can try and fool Google by using duplicate content, useless landing pages outside of your site, keyword stuffing, and other “black hat” tactics. But do you really want to go toe to toe with Google? You will lose.

Isn’t it better to focus on delivering value to those that matter most, your clients? Isn’t it a better strategy to be a resource for clients, potential clients and referral sources? Of course it is. And judging by the way things are going with Panda this is going to matter more and more in the future.

So, our advice? Stop gaming the system. The only proven SEO “tactic” is hard work, research and providing value to the targeted user.

Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts on SEO tactics.

Comments: 3

  • I must say that, from a readers point of view, I shall be greatly relieved when the search engine algorithms are sufficiently tuned to get rid of the “spun” articles and badly written “keyword stuffed” rubbish.
    As an seo practitioner, though, it can still be very tempting to go down the road of link-farms and dummy blogs – because everybody else does it. However I think those days are coming to an end – just think how much spam email gets through your filters these days as compared to its heyday a few years ago.
    The key compromise therefore has to be persuading clients to target more specific niches that are less competitive than perhaps they first instruct, and writing quality content for these specific niches therefore providing quality and search engine friendly highly targeted content.

  • Stone says:

    Hey Jon,

    How much is Google paying you to write this crap? It’s now a fact they pay bloggers for garbage articles ( like this one ) and they pay for links.

  • My main point with this article is that focusing on delivering valuable content and a quality user experience to the client is more effective than trying to engage in questionable SEO tactics. And Google paid me nothing to write this. I wish they had but no such luck.

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