How to get better search engine rankings

24 Jan

By Jonny Cameron

No smoke and mirrors, no technical wizardry, no black magic involved. Google’s Matt Cutts’ latest stance means that to get higher search engine rankings, you’ll need to invest more in better marketing.

Cutts caused a stir this week by claiming that “guest blogging is dead”. A reaction to those guest bloggers who are creating content with the only purpose of building links. A “dofollow” link means more authority, which can mean more non-paid search traffic. The result of this practice however is that the internet is flooded with crap guest blogs, that are only there for link-building purposes.

girl holding sign

A brief history of link building

Ultimately, the more authority your site has the more likely it is to rank highly for a relevant search term. Traditionally, the more links you had to your site from other websites, the better. Black hat SEO companies focussed on shady link-building techniques to dupe Google into thinking your site was more authoritative e.g. building hundreds of poor quality doorway sites that linked back to yours. In recent years however the emphasis has been on quality rather than quantity and Google updates (named after various animals: Panda, Pengiun etc.) aimed to punish sites with “unnatural links” and many websites found that their non-paid search traffic sunk quicker than something that sinks really quickly.

Guest blogging

More recently, digital marketers have recognised that guest blogging is a great way to build links, which in turn, was a great way to build authority. The theory is that you provide a guest blog to a relevant site, they publish it and you get a link back to your website from the author bio or the body text of the blog. The publisher gets some content to serve to their audience and you get a link back to your site, acting as a vote of authority for Google. The problem is that this has led to a culture of guest blogging for the sake of it, with the link becoming more important than the content. Matt Cutts is head of spam at Google and wants to reduce the amount of crap, so it stands to reason that he wants to cut down on this.

Be better at marketing

It’s not all negative, Cutts does suggest that “benefits of guest blogging include exposure, branding, increased reach, community”. This means that quality is paramount and it means that creative content marketing will be the best SEO strategy. If you create quality, valuable, relevant content that people want to read and share, then you’ll continue to build your brand online, gain authority and creep up the organic rankings for relevant search terms.

Too many in the SEO industry have focussed on the “technical” elements when the long-term win has always been to understand user behaviour.

Link-building will still be an important factor for SEO but the best way to build quality links is, and always will be, quality content. Or as Anne Smarty from SEOsmarty elegantly put it “Do marketing as if Google didn’t exist.” This includes:

  • Building relevant relationships, not low quality links
  • Invest time in marketing and online brand building
  • Stop banging on about the technical aspects of SEO

There’s still room for guest blogging as a marketing strategy, but the starting point needs to be content that people want to engage with.

Any thoughts?

photo credit: seosmarty via photopin cc


One Response to “How to get better search engine rankings”


  1. Who should “do” your SEO? Lessons from the Smart Business Show | Digital Marketing NI Blog - June 3, 2014

    […] of links using doorway sites) that Google are now keen to clamp down on all link building. Matt Cutts recently poured scorn on guest blogging. But how about if Google emphasised the importance of quality link-building as part of a wider […]

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