If you have a web site then you have probably heard of SEO or Search Engine Optimization. You have also probably heard of companies that promise to get your site to the top of the rankings (usually for some exorbitant amount of money).

The whole concept of SEO is to optimize your website so that it will rank higher in Google. There are apparently many different methods of doing this but the problem with all of them typically is that they are trying to ‘fool’ Google. The penalty for fooling Google can be quite severe.

The other issue with search is that it is becoming more and more personalized. That means that when you search for something you no longer get ‘clean’ results because of the profiling Google does. This concept of a ‘search bubble’ was covered in a recent post on this blog.

A much better approach is to understand what Google is looking to rank higher and implement that. Google is looking to make the web more interesting for users. How it defines ‘useful’ comes down to the secret algorithm it uses for searching, however there are certainly some obvious guidelines that can be followed including:

– Keep content fresh and updated. A great way to do this is via a blog with meaningful and relevant articles.

– Don’t reuse content from elsewhere. Originally is rewarded.

– Help people understand something. Create content that explains or illustrates something.

– Allow other to comment on the content you create. The idea is to endear discussion rather than merely publication.

In most cases, there is far more value to be gained from investing in your web content than investing in SEO, for the simple reason that Google can always change their algorithm which would mean you would have to commence the SEO dance all over again. However, by creating good content you will always own that investment and always stand out from the crowd.