A person who is new to internet marketing or blogging will likely have read (and is still reading) a phenomenal volume of information on the subject. This information will range from age-old clichés to the truly absurd. Trust me, I know.
In this post I’m going to explain why you’re better off concentrating on the clichés – well, one in particular – as opposed to the more enticing ones.
Yip, that’s right. The information that excites you most tends to be the stuff that you look back on a couple years (and perhaps one or two Google slaps) later and think, “what on earth was I thinking?!”
As someone relatively new to the Blogosphere, but as an experienced web designer, I have had my prescribed dose of information overload. I have extensively tested both polar opposites and everything in between:
From black hat backlink building to ‘grey hat’ SEO and website promotion to completely white hat website development and promotion techniques. What can I say – I like hats.
When it comes to website content, there are two vastly different takes on what content to create and how to go about creating it.
Content is king: The white hat approach
If I had R10 for every time somebody has used the phrase ‘Content is King’ in an article about SEO and blogging, I may well be able to retire early. It is a cliché, yes, but generally if you hear something often enough from enough different people, there is probably an element of truth to the matter.
In this case, you would be a wise man to believe that content really is king. I firmly believe that if you focus 90% of your effort on creating quality, unique content on your website you will reap the rewards in the form of great search engine rankings, regardless of your link building and other SEO efforts.
This is because the Big G (and subsequently every other search engine) is forever updating its algorithms to make sure the good guys who are developing good content are justly rewarded.
Don’t believe me? Matt Cutts, the head honcho within Google’s SPAM team, recently commented on a new algorithm change dubbed the “over-optimization penalty”. He stated that Google’s aim was to “level the playing field” in order to weed out sites with poor content but overkill optimization and link building efforts.
This will effectively boost websites that are producing great content but which have poor link portfolios.
It stands to reason, then, that the benefit of creating unique, quality content is two-fold. The search engines will favour your website and, because people like reading good information, you’re going to be held in high esteem by human users too.
The other end of the scale: Black hat content
When discussing “black hat” techniques, you will generally find that a number of different people will have an equal number of differing definitions of what black hat content and techniques actually are.
For the sake of this post, I’m going to define black hat content as content that is not your own, not unique and is barely readable to an ordinary human being.
This sort of ‘content’ is created using black hat tools which will scrape content off existing content sites, such as article directories. The tools will often grab 3 or 4 related articles from these sites, mash them all together using spinning software and spit the result out at you, calling it unique content.
Why would a person do such a thing?
Well, because scraping and auto-spinning content, or auto-blogging, takes a fraction of the time that writing your own articles takes. The aim is to provide food for the search engines, or search engine fodder, in order to send your site up the rankings with minimal effort.
In times gone by this method has worked to some extent for some people. Usually for people where there are barely any competing websites. Because of this, however, it is lauded by self-acclaimed internet marketing gurus as the best and most effective approach to SEO and content creation.
Unfortunately, this ‘Super Secret Internet Marketing Formula’ is still being packaged and sold to innocent, gullible people like you and me. I cringe.
The triumph of quality content
If you haven’t figured it out by now, original, top notch content is going to triumph over spun, auto-generated nonsense most every time. Why?
Because Google likes quality content. Human readers like quality content. Neither of them like unreadable, nonsensical garbage.
When it comes to search engine rankings, Google is becoming increasingly intolerant of websites which do not provide good value for the reader; Sites which are simply set up to make a quick buck. Some time or another, websites with that sort of content on them are going to be penalized, if they haven’t already been penalized.
Think about it this way: If you use black hat techniques to generate content, there is always a chance that your website is going to be punished by Google. You could be de-indexed, sandboxed or some other not-very-nice things. If you’re writing quality, unique content all the time, you never have to worry about that punishment, because you aren’t doing anything wrong.
If you depend on blogging or internet marketing for your livelihood, do you really want to take the chance of having your site de-indexed and your income going from something to nothing with a single sweep of Google’s algorithmic arm?
I think not.