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How To Optimize Your Site For The Search Engine Of Tomorrow

When it comes to ranking well in the search engines many of us take a "best practices" approach. We focus on the best techniques. We are concerned with what you are suppose to do and how you are suppose to do it. There is, no doubt, great value to knowing what works (after all it works). However, there is a down side to this approach. If we only focus on techniques and never bother to take the time to worry about why those techniques are successful, then we may very well find ourselves "surprised" one-day when all of the sudden what worked yesterday no longer seems to work today. This, indeed, is what many people (unhappily) discovered with Google's Big Daddy update.

The search engines, it turns out, are rather dynamic and they are constantly changing the way in which they determine which sites rank well for any given search term. What this means is that long-term success with the search engines requires us to understand the goals of the major search engines and how that effects their algorithm. It is not sufficient to know what the search engines do today, we also need to get a sense of where the search engines are likely to do tomorrow and to build our optimization campaigns accordingly. If we can learn to think like the search engines, then we can start to build and market the type of sites that they want to rank well. And with billions of dollars of cash and some of the brightest minds that roam this planet, the search engines are getting rather good at ranking highly those sites which they want to rank well. Therefore, the prudent, long-term strategy to ranking well in the search engines is to learn how to both build and market our sites exactly as the search engines want us to.

This leads us to an obvious question, or rather two obvious questions. The first question is what types of websites to the search engines like? The second questions is how do the search engines want us to market our sites? The answer to the first question is that the search engines like relevant websites. That is to say, websites which their customers (i.e., people who search online) find relevant for the search terms that they enter. The answer to the second question is that the search engines like popular websites and as such want us to make our sites popular. Note, though, that by popular we mean real world, natural popularity; not contrived popularity. These are sites people link to because they like the site and find it of value.

What this means is that if you can create a site which both the search engine's customers and other webmasters and web-users find valuable then you have a winning formula for long-term ranking success. And while that may not sound so easy, it's not so hard either. It basically requires you to stay abreast of the type of content that people are looking for as well as the types of websites that people find popular (guess what, they are often times, although not always, the same thing).

Relevant Content In terms of creating relevant content the key is to figure out what sort of information, products or services your customers need (remember, often times your customers started out as the search engine customers). Look around at the types of sites that do well, what kind of content do they provide. Talk to your customers and listen to what they want. The more information you can get about unmet needs the greater the chances you have of providing high-quality, relevant content (the type that search engines like showing and people like linking to). The key is to constantly be on the lookout for ways to create the best site possible for your particular field or industry.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Stay up-to-date In any field, there are always new developments, insights, techniques, etc. By staying abreast of these you provide yourself with numerous possibilities for creating meaningful content. You can write about it, apply it, review it, explain it, etc. The new is always interesting. It is also confusing and (perhaps) not yet known. Take advantage of these facts to create interesting, exciting, relevant content.

Play to your strengths Know your area of expertise and take advantage of that to help provide useful, interesting content. If your strength is money, then hire someone to build your content. If you excel at making connections, then perhaps you can encourage other people to build your content. Not everything has to come from you, just something. Figure out what you are best at and act accordingly.

Improve upon existing content Look at what is already successful and see if you can do it better. Look around at all of the different types of content online and see what needs improving upon and then improve upon it.

Real popularity In terms of creating real popularity for your site (and all the links that come with that) the key today is finding those people with the power to influence popularity and then giving them what they want. Blogs, forums, del.icio.us, digg.com, news sites, etc, all of these venues are run by real live people who (if they like your site) have the power to send large numbers of visitors and links to your site. However, they will only do so if you give them what they want. What that means is that in order to create real popularity online you first need to find out what the "powers that be" want and how you can give it to them.

Here are a few examples of what type of content creates popularity online:

Bloggers Bloggers need something to blog about. After all, each and every day they need to supply their readers with new content. So if you can create something that they find of interest then they will gladly write about you and your "creation" (which, of course, will include a link).

News sites News sites need stories and/or articles of interest. Is there something about your site which is newsworthy? If so, then package it as a story and write a press release about it (or contact the press directly if you have any connections). Alternatively, offer to write a column or a special article. At the same time, ask them what subjects they are interested in and see if you can either write or hire someone to write an article about it.

Social Media Sites There are no clear cut rules about what types of content do well at sites like Digg.com and del.icio.us. What does well in one industry may be of little interest to another. It is best to look at the types of content which are popular for your industry on these sites and then to create similar content on your site. With that said, certain types of styles seem to do well (such as lists or how to articles). Figure out which styles work best for your target audience and write your content accordingly.

Content is king So, at the end of the day, high rankings which last revolve around one word, content. But take note, not all content is the same. The search engines may like one type of content, bloggers another, and people on digg.com yet another. The key to long term success online is becoming aware of which content speaks to which audience and then learning how to efficiently give each party what they want. What's nice is that the same content can often times be reworked to appeal to the particular needs of different groups . Either way, content is now king (indeed, it has been for a while). So go out, create lots of it, make sure that it is relevant and of the highest quality, and you and the search engines can live together happily ever after.

by Moshe Morris

“How To Optimize Your Site For The Search Engine Of Tomorrow”