What is the Most Effective SEO Tactic?

Chris CrumFeatured, Search

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What is the Most Effective SEO Tactic? If you're trying to gain visibility for your website, you've no doubt wondered about the answer to that question at some point. Well, it just happens to be the very thing that Google keeps telling you. It's about the content.

What has been your most effective SEO-related tactic? Discuss in the comments.

Google has long been pushing webmasters to shoot for high quality content, especially since launching the Panda update several years ago. According to a recent survey by Ascend2 (via Marketing Charts), relevant content creation is by far the most effective tactic. That's what 72% of SEO marketers say. This is followed by keyword/phrase research, frequent website updating, relevant link building, social media integration, frequent blogging, mobile search optimization, and website URL restructuring.

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The bad news is that relevant content creation is also one of the most difficult tactics, according to those polled, second only to relevant link building (which has become much more challenging in recent years due to developments at Google). A fair amount of those surveyed also find frequent blogging and website updating to be difficult tasks. Keyword/phrase research is the easiest thing to do.

difficult-tactics

The good news is that for 71% of those polled, the effectiveness of search engine optimization tactics is improving. It's mostly modest improvement, but that's compared to no change for 18%, modest worsening for 9% and significant worsening for just 2%.

This is somewhat surprising given Google's changes that put less emphasis on traditional, organic results.

It's unfortunate that relevant link building is the most difficult tactic because another new study suggests that links are as important as ever to ranking in Google.

Moz is sharing some data based on the top 50 Google search results for about 15,000 keywords. Cyrus Shepard reports:

The correlation between higher rankings and the number of linking websites (root domains) sits at .30. This number seems small, but it's actually one of the highest correlations the study found. (Smaller correlations are also not surprising—with over 200 ranking signals, Google specifically designed their algorithm so that one factor doesn't dominate the others.)

Even more telling is the number of websites we found in the top results that had external backlinks, or rather, the lack thereof.

Out of the top results, a full 99.2% of all websites had at least one external link. (The remaining .8% is well within the margin of error expected between Mozscape and Google's own link index.) The study found almost no websites ranking for competitive search phrases that didn't have at least a single external link pointing at them, and most had significantly more links.

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Check out the full report for additional insights.

Earlier this year, Google said that you should avoid link building.

Google webmaster trends analyst John Mueller was asked in a hangout if link building is, in any way, good for webmasters (start at about 55:40):

He said, "That is a good question. In general, I’d try to avoid that. So that you are really sure that your content kind of stands on its own and make it possible for other people of course to link to your content. Make it easy, maybe, put a little widget on your page, if you like this, this is how you can link to it. Make sure that the URLs on your web site are easy to copy and paste. All of those things make it a little bit easier. We do use links as part of our algorithms but we use lots and lots of other factors as well. So only focusing on links is probably going to cause more problems for your web site that actually helps.”

After that, we spoke with prominent link building specialist Ken McGaffin about his thoughts on Google saying to avoid link building. He said:

That all depends on the type of link building you’re doing. Let’s say I’ve just conducted a great piece of research for a client and my prime objective is to get them media coverage. The research and the accompanying press release was so good that it got coverage in the NYTimes, BBC and many others – good job done!

But my secondary objective is to get links – so AS WELL as conducting the research, and writing the press release, I make sure that the journalist has something to link to, something that his readers will appreciate. That could be:

– an in-depth blog post giving much more detail than the Journalist could give space to

– a presentation or infographic of the results

– a copy of the original research so that readers can check it out.

In this case, I’m doing my client a service in getting PR coverage. But I’m also doing my best to ensure that editorial links and others links will follow. I can only see Google looking positively on my efforts – because of the value it offers. But if all I did was the ‘link building’ part then I’d be doing my client a disservice – and missing some major opportunities. This means that any online marketing/PR initiative is multi-layered – and one of those layers must be link building.

Google has made it clear that it will not tolerate any link building that violates its guidelines, and it's become as aggressive at going after sites that do as ever.

It's good to know that creating relevant content is still leading to significant effectiveness. Luckily, if you're producing the right content, the links should come too. Look for ways to put out content that others aren't creating. If others are creating similar things, look for ways to make your version better and more helpful.

Do you have trouble creating relevant content? Building links? What's the most difficult tactic for you? Let us know in the comments.

Images via Ascend2

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.