Digital business owners fully understand the importance of ranking highly in search engine results pages for keywords and key phrases around the products and services they sell.
To do this, business owners must create and deploy a comprehensive search engine optimisation plan that covers everything from site structure and speed to user experience.
For many, link building will also play a key role in building authority to their websites and in some cases this activity will take up the majority of their SEO time and budget.
While link building is important for showing Google that your website and the information on it is of value, its importance as a ranking factor is being increasingly disputed.
Why? Because digital marketers and SEO experts have found ways of duping the system when it comes to link building and growing the authority of a site.
From directory listings to posting in blog comments to buying links on sites that have been built for the very purpose of growing their own authority and selling articles and links to businesses.
Fully aware of this, Google has made huge changes to what it considers when ranking websites and now puts far more weight behind user engagement, content and social sharing.
So, what does this mean for digital business owners looking to improve SERP rankings while also ensuring visitors to their websites receive the information and experience they are seeking?
James Ashton, Head of Content at online casino comparison site FindMyUKCasino.com, says that digital businesses must stop link building and start content writing.
“Content is absolutely the most important factor when it comes to delivering a high value experience to those visiting your website and also in helping improve SEO.
“Quality content provides answers to the questions that consumers are searching for, allowing them to make an informed decision about the products or services they are looking to purchase.
“All other aspects of SEO are important, but if consumers are landing on a website and are not able to find the information they are seeking, they will simply click off and go elsewhere.”
This is exactly what Google is trying to prevent when it comes to where it ranks sites. It wants to prioritise those that deliver the information and answers consumers are seeking when they search.
If a site is ranking highly because the owner has deployed black hat SEO strategies – including dubious link building – users will most likely bounce and, over time, its position will drop.
So how can digital business owners create quality content that answers consumer search queries while also ultimately helping the website rank highly?
“A rock-solid content strategy is an absolute must,” says Ashton. “Business owners must research and identify the keywords and phrases they wish to rank for.
“From this, they should create highly detailed and comprehensive articles, guides, reviews, features and so on that provide consumers with all the information they are seeking around that term.
“The content must be of the highest quality and this can be achieved by the business owner using their own knowledge and expertise, or by asking other experts to contribute.”
Ashton says this is something he has done with Find My UK Casino, using his own expertise and knowledge combined with other industry experts.
This, he says, means the content written and published is of the highest possible standard and delivers more insight and value than that of his competitors.
“Take our page on Megaways slots, for example,” he says. “This is a highly competitive search term but already we are rising up the rankings because our page provides added value.
“We have achieved this by securing an interview with the founder of the company behind Megaways, Big Time Gaming, and by simply ensuring our content is better than our rivals.”
Of course, an SEO strategy must go beyond simply writing content and outreaching and link building are and will always remain a part of that.
But with Google changing what it considers when ranking a website and in particular the user experience offered, content is perhaps the most important factor to get right.
As Ashton points out:
“Google’s mission is to provide users with the most accurate and relevant answer and information to their search query and rightly it wants to rank the sites that do that best the highest.
“There really is no point in duping your way to the top of the SERPs if users simply click off your site the minute they click through to it.
“In fact that is harmful; a poor bounce rate will negatively impact your website’s SEO score.”
“This is of no benefit to the user, nor to the business that runs the website. Get your content right, carry out other SEO activity and let Google do the rest.”
So, what are you waiting for – stop link building and start content writing.