The mantra of Search Engine Optimization is quality content. The quality of your content serves as a foundation for all of your other strategies. Using social media to generate traffic is useless if the traffic leaves after a few seconds because you don’t use a spell checker. Same applies to press releases, direct mail, any marketing platform you can think of. However, I recently put the rally cry of SEOs and Bloggers alike to the test.
“Content is King”
There exists a notion amongst the SEO community that if you produce great content, the traffic and links will come. You don’t have to do anything bit sit in a text editor or illustrative tool and pound out the best content of your life. If it’s unique, well written, and useful, you’ll get the traffic and links you deserve.
Sorry folks, That’s not true
In an ideal world with an ideal search engine, this would certainly be true. But Google is certainly not an ideal search engine. While Google has thus far been the best search engine at filtering out poor websites from the results, the SERPs(Search Engine Results Page) are still loaded with sites that use spam to rank.
It’s not what you know, It’s who you know.
It truly does break my heart to bring myself to concede this point, but experimentation has simply shown this principle to be true. When you’re attempting to get backlinks from humans, you have to understand how humans work. Almost every industry leader got to where they are by being acknowledged by some other industry leader at some point in time. Some of you may wonder “If that’s the case, how did the first industry leaders come about?” While a perfectly legitimate question, the answer to the question is quite irrelevant. The cycle is clearly visible, and unfortunately that’s all that really matters. Industry leaders are created by the spotlight of other industry leaders. This cycle directly reflects how we function as a species. As such, I don’t imagine it will ever change. Ready any Rags-to-Riches story, and you’ll see a pattern in all of them: The people in quesiton were either introduced to or discovered by someone of influence.
What this means for you
You can no longer hide in WordPress. If you want the links and traffic to make a successful website, you need to engage with other people in your industry – especially the people of influence. Follow noteworthy people on twitter, leave as many useful comments as you can on their articles, and mention them. Content creation must be complemented by content promotion if you intend on getting the traffic you feel you deserve.
“But Joseph, that sounds a LOT like kissing ass”
You know what? You’re right. Know what else? That’s exactly what it is. Do I like it? Of course not. But if you want to get the attention, you have to play the game. All social endeavors are composed of a series of meaningless games, and links are by nature a social entity.
Consider the great revolutions of History, such as the American Revolution and the French Revolution. What makes them so revolutionary? The masses joined together and overthrew the elite, and b>that doesn’t happen very often.
While it’s great to network with people in similar situations, the odds of you building a band of digital brothers to overthrow the Zeldman’s of our era are slim. It’s not the most rainbow-and-sunshine news you’ve heard all day, but it’s the truth.
Content is still important!
If you’ve accepted my ideas, you may be tempted to ditch your blog and allocate all your time to reading the articles of industry leaders. Don’t get carried away! Your content is still extremely important. When you’re generating traffic, people like to know that you’re still in the business of having something noteworthy to say. Visitors who see that your last article was written two months ago may not interact. Visitor retention is equally important as visitor acquisition, and it’s difficult to retain visitors if they perceive you as inactive.
It’s all about the optimal balance
It’s up to you to experiment with your writing:networking ratio. You might network 1 hour for every 1 hour you write. You might find commenting on blogs 2 hours for every 1 hour you spend writing your own articles to be optimal. You have to experiment to find the right balance. Just remember that a blog without updates and a blog without an audience are equally worthless.