Falling In Love With SEO All Over Again

  • by April 7, 2008
I have a love/hate relationship with SEO. I love its promise of getting traffic for "free." I hate that many SEO tactics resemble a Potter-esque "Defense Against the Dark Arts" lesson. But now, with new technologies that track and analyze the atomization of the Web, marketers can embrace SEO and accurately measure its success.

The ascendancy of the Google economy has transformed links to your site into a valuable online currency. For evidence of the importance of links, look no further than the thriving paid link black market where a single link in a profitable category can trade for as high as $8,000.

Link building has always been a primary SEO tactic and a long-term audience builder, but, over the past 12 months, the importance of securing links back to your site has skyrocketed. Google and other top search engines increasingly rely on the quality and quantity of inbound links to determine how high your brand ranks in search engine results pages.

If your brand produces high-quality content, you are sitting on an SEO gold mine - smart publishers are unleashing their original article, image or video content into the blogosphere and social media sites to build links back to their destination site.

Whether you call it a viral distribution of your content or a content affiliate program, it's the same strategy - your content is your greatest asset online and it's time to use it to your advantage. The New York Times realized this in September when it removed its subscription content barrier. As reported last month, their traffic from Google has doubled as a result.

And recently, Sports Illustrated unleashed its 53-year old archive of articles and photos - all the words that Sports Illustrated has ever published and many of its images and videos. As John Squires, executive vice president of Time, Inc., the Time Warner subsidiary that publishes Sports Illustrated, told The New York Times. "The real hidden value of this is what it does for search." The move quadruples the site's volume, he said. "We'll have to work our way up the search algorithms over time, but eventually, someone searches Johnny Unitas, and is going to pop up." will "pop up" on Google because the release of its archived content will drive tens of thousands of links back to various pages of, propelling their site up the rankings for various keyword combinations. New content tracking and analytics services enable publishers to identify link opportunities on sites that are republishing their content without providing a link back.

Improved search rankings will certainly boost traffic back to your site, but there are additional brand awareness benefits, particularly if you have image or video content. Google, Yahoo and MSN are rapidly integrating multi-media results into their search engine results pages, referred to as blended or universal search. According to comScore, 17% of searchers received universal search results in January 2008.

So what does all this mean to marketers? Think differently about your content assets and the value of links. Unleash your articles, images and videos and allow them to drive traffic back to your site and increase your brand awareness.

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