If you asked someone what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was 3 to 5 years ago they would have given you an answer similar to this one…
“SEO is making sure your title, meta, alt, and h1 tag all have your main keyword in them and that you have an optimal keyword density on your page.”
Three years ago I would have agreed with this statement 100%. Three years ago I was able to get a top ranking in Google and Yahoo within 24 hours by simply following the simple formula above. But the problem was it was too easy to manipulate these on-page characteristics and game the search engines for top rankings. This naturally lead to a lot of spam websites in the search engine rankings.
In response to this spam problem the search engines had to change their ranking algorithms to focus on off-page factors as opposed to on-page factors. This meant that on-page factors like your meta keywords would be weighted significantly less in the search engines and off-page factors like the number of authoritative websites that link to you (called backlinks) would be weighted significantly more. This meant that the days of simply putting up a page that had good on-page SEO and getting traffic through organic search engine listings were over.
Now the major search engines like Google focus more on factors like:
- How many backlinks does your website have?
- Are these backlinks from credible and authoritative sources?
- What anchor text are these external websites using to link to your website?
- How old is your domain name?
- How long until your domain name expires?
- How much traffic does your website receive?
- How long do visitors stay on your website?
- What is the bounce rate of the traffic the search engines are sending you?
You might have noticed a trend with the factors that the search engines are now using to rank websites in their results. The trend is in using factors that are difficult to manipulate. It is tough to manipulate the age of your domain name or the number of external websites that are linking to you. Another trend with these factors is that they all relate back to having quality content. Google’s job is to help its users find what they are looking for when searching. If a searcher clicks on a search result and then immediately hits the “back” button then obviously they did not find what they were searching for. This is known as a “bounce” and Google will take note of this and lower that search engine result on the results page. The way for a webmaster to lower their bounce rate is to create quality content.
So how do you get other websites to link to you? Create quality content. How does a webmaster increase the time visitors stay on their page? Create quality content. How do you receive a lot of traffic? Create quality content so the visitor keeps coming back to your website.
The point I am trying to make is that SEO is becoming less about on-page SEO and more about just creating quality content that benefits the user. If you create quality content then the rest of the SEO should take care of itself. Yes, you still need to do all of the on-page SEO, but on-page SEO is becoming the standard now and will not get your website to rank on its own.