In the SEO world, it feels like the winds are always blowing in different directions. Just when I feel I understand the landscape, something shifts and best practices are evolved. There seems to be so much to consider when you’re trying to create or curate content for SEO.

  • What’s the number one factor in winning search?
  • How should I apply SEO to my marketing budget?
  • How often should I be talking about my own brand/company?
  • How do I get offsite links?
  • And as always – What am I overlooking?

For most of us, we want to do things the right way. We want to follow the rules, but with so much information out there, we just kind of want to know what the rules are. So here is a list of 3 things to keep in mind when you’re investing marketing dollars and time into SEO:

Content Rules

This is a pretty common-used phrase among content marketers and SEO experts.  What it means is that the quickest way to get noticed by Google is to publish content that your customers and prospects find valuable. The great thing about social media and SEO is that we don’t need expensive ad agencies or PR firms to broadcast our message anymore. We have custom web solutions tools that empower us to do it ourselves.

However, for small businesses, creating a high volume of quality content that is relevant and sharable to their audience can be difficult. If that’s the case, then what? According to Tristan Handy, finding and sharing third party content is just as valuable as creating your own.

Google has the ability to tell whether your content is stuffed with keywords, you’re hiding keywords, or the content in general is garbage. So don’t cut corners. Publish and promote content that is relevant, valuable and sharable for your audience. Quality content is worth the investment if you want to win search.

Content in Context

SEOMoz’s 2011 Search Ranking Factors report shows that offsite SEO represents 40% of the pie. If you’re ignoring offsite SEO, you’re doing it all wrong. You shouldn’t be spending all of your marketing dollars on your own domain. What other pages and domains are saying matters if they’re linking to you.

To do offsite correctly, it takes time and effort. Guest post on someone else’s blog, post content in forums relevant to your audience, comment on blogs with valuable information and links. Again, don’t spam. You’re actually hurting yourself if you choose to blast links without context all over the Internet.

Google can see the context surrounding your links. So don’t post low-quality content on sites that aren’t relevant to your company. If you sell shoes, don’t publish content on an interior decorator website.

A good place to start is to download SEOMoz’s Moz Bar, find sites with high domain and page authority, and publish there if you can. Content is king, but it means a lot less if the context surrounding your content isn’t strong.

User Experience

Mobile traffic has seen a giant increase in the past few years with the smart phone boom. People want to easily browse the Internet. They want to quickly and easily find solutions to their problems.

If you haven’t optimized your site for mobile, you’re potentially missing out on a large number of visitors and conversions. Investing in optimizing your user experience for mobile is worth it.

Not only that, but give the people coming to your website a clear path to get where they want to go. Are the people coming to your site staying? Or are they bouncing off quickly? If they’re not staying long, that indicates you’re not solving their problems.

Clear calls-to-action on your website, quality content in a relevant context will help with SEO and likely conversions. No matter how many things change with best practices, no matter what the buzzword of the month is, investing in content, offsite SEO and a quality user experience will always matter to your customers and to search engines.