Traditionally, high-traffic, low quality link-building was a common way for websites to increase their SEO ranking without investing too much time or money. But with Google’s Panda updates last year, many websites were penalized for using low-quality links to get SEO benefits. Even some of the big-name corporations famously saw a downgrade in their placement on the search engine, like Overstock.com and JCPenny. The result is that the emphasis for search engine optimization tactics has shifted not only to quality links, but even more to quality content.
As time goes on, search engine algorithms are increasingly finding ways to recognize and reward websites that boast of a rich user experience. A look at some of the data for corporate websites during 2011 shows just how much the changes to Panda’s algorithm are affecting rankings and site traffic.
This graph shows one example of just how dramatically – and quickly – a site can see their SEO efforts go down the drain. The way to avoid this, or recover from it, is to shift focus to the user experience, including quality content and legitimate link-building.
And now for the how-to …
There are several ways that you can build up the quality of your content. Blogs and white papers are a generally a good way to go, as they can also bring in natural links and tend to avoid the template trap. But you can also spice up your content with the addition of things like videos and infographics, to name a few. Search engines recognize these as being of rich quality and contributing to the user experience in ways that other methods do not.
A note on videos in particular: these have seen a marked increase in popularity in recent years. Just in the last month of January, the average viewer of videos watched 22.6 hours of online video content. (View the comScore press release here.) As multimedia such as videos become more popular among Internet users, we expect that algorithms will continue to evolve in ways that take this into account, and reward websites that follow suit.