Sounds like the beginning of a séance, right?  Well, there’s no need to dig through the closet and pull out your old Ouija board!  Instead, when it comes to SEO and content marketing, any talk of reincarnation comes down to facts that are staring you in the face every time you log onto the web.

To get our discussion started, let’s travel back in time.  Five years ago, SEO was dominated by talk of “dofollow” links.  “Nofollow” links were to be avoided like the plague, because they didn’t count in Google’s tally.  After all, back then, whoever had the biggest pile of links usually won the race to the top of the search results!

So, how were you supposed to get all of these “dofollow” links?

Back then, many SEO experts would have told you to make the link building process as quick as possible.  That’s why profile links on forums and social media sites were so popular.  So were high-PR blog posts that accepted links in their comments.  And, if you really wanted to make a dent in the search results, you needed to “worship” at the “temple” of the best-possible links — the ones on .EDU and .GOV sites.

Bear in mind, you didn’t have to become a valued member of these forums or blogs.  All you had to do was go in one time and set up a profile or leave a quick comment (like, “I really enjoyed this post… Thanks!”) with a link back to your site.  The owners of these sites probably spent many of their waking hours pulling their hair out, but hey, all’s fair in love and SEO, right?!

Back then, the quick link philosophy also applied to your content.  Specifically, you were advised to “blast” articles to as many different directories as possible.  It didn’t really matter what you wrote — as long as you wrote enough to get a link to your website in the resource box.

Boy, have times changed!

Today, Google has the ability to find — and punish — low-quality content.  In fact, Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team, has gone on record saying content that’s “derivative, or scraped, or duplicate, and just not as useful” ISN’T going to rank well.

Guess what that means?

All of those crappy articles you “blasted” to get a bunch of easy links are actually HURTING you now!  Luckily, if the Google Panda has attacked those junk articles — and any other junk you may have published along the way — all it takes is a steady stream of high-quality content to climb your way back up the rankings.

What about all of those “dofollow” links you searched so hard for back in the day?

Instead of just looking at your site and seeing that it has a pile of links pointing at it, Google now has the ability to STUDY those links.  They can see where your links came from — and whether or not they’re from authoritative sites that are relevant to your own site.  As a result, all of that “link vomit” you generated a few years back isn’t going to make you rank any higher.  In fact, it could actually hurt you!

So, does this mean that SEO is dead?

Absolutely not!   It simply has a different “spirit” than it did a few years ago.

After all, SOMEONE has to be at the top of the search results.  As long as there are search engines, there will be certain things you can do to get your website to the top of them.  The difference between today and a few years ago is HOW the search engines are actually judging you.  Instead of being rewarded for a pile of “quick and dirty” backlinks, the sites at the top of the results are being rewarded for getting quality links from authoritative sources.

…And the only way to get those links is through quality content!

Think about it — if you publish a great guest post on a highly-respected website in your niche, you’re going to have a powerful link pointing at your site.  Then, when people syndicate the post on their own sites, you’re going to wind up with a BUNCH of quality links pointing at your site.  You’re still building a pile of links, but you’re doing it in a totally different way than you would have just a few years ago!

Unfortunately, a lot of site owners haven’t caught on yet.

Just a few months ago, Cutts produced a video that listed the biggest mistakes site owners are making when it came to their SEO, and the vast majority of those mistakes have to do with content!  According to Cutts, things like making your content hard for humans and spiders to find, shoving in awkward keyword phrases, and thinking about building links — instead of creating “compelling content” — are all major faux pas that site owners are making, and it’s ruining their chances of being at the top of the rankings!

These days, Google’s algorithm is more in-line with what HUMANS want.  Web searchers have wanted expert answers and legitimate solutions ever since the web was first created.  Now, Google’s technology has the ability to find the websites that offer those answers and solutions.  Now that humans and search engines are looking for the same thing, it’s obvious that a site with thin or low-quality content isn’t going to be at the top of the search results.

Bottom line — if you want to see SEO success, you’ve got to focus on the right content marketing strategy.  Ignore the quality of your content, and the search engines will ignore you!