It isn’t surprising that there is a lot of discussion all around on SEO. As more and more of the economy shifts online, good SEO practices can make or break a business. Perhaps this is also what prompts businesses like JC Penny to use unethical SEO practices to try and game Google. It shouldn’t be surprising though – JC Penny got millions of dollars worth of shopping during the holiday season. The difference between first and second position in Google can be huge.
Which is why, you see so many techniques for SEO, “tricks” that will rank you higher in the search results. There are both the “WhiteHat” and “BlackHat” methods. Then there is the middle ground “GrayHat” methods. There are the ethical and unethical methods, there is manipulation, there is money, there is violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines. There is everything you can think of under the sun. Which is what makes ranking difficult.
It is a constant cat and mouse game between Google and webmasters. Google originally came up with PageRank, with the idea that it is not just about the keywords on the site (which is what earlier search engines used. Yea, there was a life for search engines before Google too!) but also how many other sites would like to link to it. In an ideal world, one would only link to a site if he felt the content valuable. However, in hindsight, it is easy to see how easily the system can be manipulated. What if people enter into “backroom” deals as link exchanges? Google was smart and reciprocal links aren’t as “valuable” today, so people started a “three-way link exchange”. Then of course there is the class of webmasters that buy and sell high PR ranks. There are a million things that can go on in the world of SEO.
And that brings me to the point of the article: what lies at the core, at the very heart of SEO? It is simply finding the best content. Period. It all boils down to providing value to the searcher. The way Google determines this might change from one day to another, but at the core, it is all about finding the best web pages, out of the more than trillion pages out there.
There are many tactics and strategies used by webmasters. One day it is backlinking through article marketing and another day it is blog and forum commenting. These tactics are fragile and they can change easily. After the Google Panda update, article directories were badly hit. This is in tune with Google’s idea of providing the best results to users. Without good search results, Google is dead.
So when you are building a site and want it to rank high in Google, you need to build high quality sites. This is at the heart of SEO. Read this article by Amit Singhal of Google and you will see why. Though he doesn’t go into the details, everything there has to do with content. Everything. There is no mention of linking at all in the checklist. Yes, backlinks can be very helpful but they are only a stepping stone towards what Google ultimately wants: Quality Content.