Matt Cutts has been posting a lot of videos in and around the Penguin 2.0 update.
Google’s latest Penguin release has gone deeper than ever before, hitting a number of high-profile link networks – and those sites that have paid for links on them – hard.
It’s prompted Cutts to release a YouTube video on Monday titled ‘What are some misconceptions in the SEO industry?’ where he answers questions from Google’s Webmaster Help forums from users.
Cutts, as you can see in the video below, touches on topics such as how SEOs often confuse algorithm and data refreshes, and how developments such as Google Penguin and Panda aren’t there to make the search giant money:
Intriguingly for us though is his third and final point about how SEOs focus too much of their time focusing on search engines and building links for ranking benefits.
Cutts points out how webmasters are spending too much money and effort over-optimising their sites when instead they should be focusing on user experience.
He points out that sites could be using social media more to promote themselves, their products and their services while focusing on the overall user and their inclination to share sites they find enjoyable to browse.
It’s something we’ve always highlighted. In fact I posted only last week about how important it is for brands to identify their Unique Selling Point to differentiate themselves from competitors and seize their niche.
So how do you do this if you’re starting out or already have an existing SEO campaign?
Creative content builds natural links
Google loves fresh content, but a number of SEOs have confused that in the past as ‘just posting content’.
Whether on-page or off-page, a number of webmasters have been associating brands with poor-quality content for too long in justification of building a link portfolio.
There’s an old adage that says Content is King. There’s a reason for its existence – creative content posted on a consistent basis draws people into a site and encourages them to explore the rest of it at their leisure.
“What makes [your site] compelling, what makes it interesting, what makes it fun?” explains Cutts. That’s something you should think about when creating your content marketing strategy.
Exciting compelling content is its own reward and will boost your traffic in the long run.
Create a buzz with social signals
That also ties in with what Cutts says about Social Media Marketing and its benefits. If your content is exciting to read, watch or listen to then people are more likely to share it amongst their friends and family on social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and others.
“[People] get too focused on search engines and then entirely miss social media and social media marketing, and that’s a great way to get out in front of people,” says Cutts.
It’s also something we’ve touched on, especially in regard local brand building and laying the foundations for a loyal, local group of users that will come back to the site time and again.
Some brands just see social media as having nothing more than a profile, and that that presence is more than enough to show people they’re approachable across a variety of channels.
It’s not enough. Site owners need to have a visible, accessible presence on social media, interacting with existing and potential customers to inform, entertain and share.
What’s the point in creating content if people aren’t able to find it?
Liaising with influencers on social networks and sharing content with industry movers and shakers will get you a noticeable presence in your area of expertise.
Most importantly though, interacting with the general public is the best way to build brand trust, answer consumer questions and allay any potential minefields in a positive professional manner to win trust and customer loyalty.
Beautiful site design and UX
“If you look at sites that have done relatively well… Sites such as Instagram… Twitter… What those guys try to do is make design a fundamental piece of why their site is advantageous to go to.
“It’s a great experience. People enjoy that.”
We couldn’t have put it better ourselves, Matt. Cutts also highlights measures such as site speed and other factors to improve the overall user experience to win over visitors.
Site speed as well as a number of other tropes have been staple parts of SEO for a good few years, but what Cutts is alighting to are sites that make people sit up and take notice.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend thousands creating a site in 3D that can only be viewed on a 400-inch monitor. It means making on-site navigation as seamless and painless as possible for new and existing users to keep them coming back for more in future.
Do you sell products through your site for instance? Have a look at your product pages. Are they clean, clear and crisp with necessary product information?
How about product images – can people see what the product looks like from all angles? How easy is it to purchase and pay for things? Are your delivery and return policies clearly stated on-site to give buyers confidence about your brand?
The overall message Matt Cutts is making in this video is not to worry too much about optimising for search engines. SEO is important, yes, but look at the bigger picture.
Don’t focus too much on link building techniques. Focus instead on your brand, what its relationship is with current and potential customers, and attract traffic through measures such as content marketing, social media management and an impressive user experience.
Not only will you impress users enough to visit your site, but you’ll also be adhering to Google’s guidelines and running an ethical online business that’s sure to impress local, national and international visitors alike.
If you’d like to learn about how to inject a little bit more creativity into your online marketing and existing SEO campaign contact Webpresence today to find out more.