It used to be the case that search engine optimization was a relatively straightforward process. Simply select some keywords, do an extensive article marketing effort featuring your backlinks strategically throughout the articles and then start an aggressive link building campaign by submitting the articles to directories. This technique would almost always net a significant improvement in a site’s ranking and visibility.
These days, however, search engines are taking a more holistic view of what kind of pages are relevant to search engine users. They are now also using behavioral information gleaned from Google Analytics and the Google Toolbar, like the average amount of time a user spends on your site, to determine how valuable the information contained therein is. If users visit your site and immediately leave due to thin content or poor design, you’ll suffer a negative SEO penalty.
According to a recent report by SEOmoz, the greatest increases in search engine results from 2009 to 2011 were obtained by sites that focused on its value to users, social media, and content readability and design. The biggest decrease in search engine results (it doesn’t mean the following doesn’t work…you just have to do it right) were from sites that focused primarily on exact keyword matches and developing a backlinking campaign.
The changes signal a ‘new way’ that search engines are looking at your content: through the eyes of your visitors. If you can’t keep your visitors’ eyes on your page, with easily read, unique, high-value content, you’ll quickly get outranked by sites that can. The true secret is paying attention to this ‘new way’ and combining it with tried and true SEO strategies: keyword research, on-page optimization and building quality backlinks.
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