Ok, the first post in this somewhat ‘tongue in cheek’ titled post about the most important thing for effective SEO dealt with laying good foundations for a site to be optimized successfully.
If anything, that one thing is to realise that there is no one single most important thing for SEO, but that it’s a developmental process of several component parts.
Without good foundations, subsequent optimization efforts will be less effective.
Laying those good foundations means that the structure and layout of the site has been determined, the (initial) keyword research has been done, the site has been made easily accessible for humans and search engines and the on page elements for title, headings, anchor text and tags etc have all been effectively targeted.
That’s equivalent to building a nice sailing boat.
Like a nice yacht, it should now get noticed in the marina.
But to make it perform, it needs the wind in its sails. And that’s the next part of effective search engine optimization.
Without going into the nuances of why some links are more valuable than others (and why some have no value at all), in general, search engines tend view a site that is referenced (linked to) from lots of other internet locations more favourably than a site which is not linked to from anywhere else at all (or less often anyway).
A link to a site can be thought of as a vote for that site. And the more votes a site gets the better….. (not quite true, but that’s for another post).
Rather like keyword research, link building is another aspect of SEO that often generates a “groan” when faced with the task.
It can be a very challenging aspect of SEO, but a good backlinking strategy is important to achieving success.
The elements previously discussed that help make good foundations for a site can be largely replicated by the webmaster of another competing site without any great deal of difficulty. When that happens, your site has no advantage left and if your site is in anything like a competitive marketplace, it will happen.
If however, your site has a significant number of quality backlinks pointing to it, it starts to build a competitive advantage that other sites have to work harder at to match and overcome.
You will be building barriers that protect against new sites encroaching into the territory you want to occupy.
In business speak – building barriers to entry, barriers that make it harder and therefore less rewarding (because of the cost and effort involved) for others to enter that market.
Of course, you may be faced with the same issue when launching a new site which is why it pays to perform some thorough keyword research in the first place to determine the likely levels of competition you are facing.
You may well need to take a short, medium and long term approach regarding gaining seo results for different keywords.
By focussing on relevant and related keywords with acceptable levels of competition (that still get traffic) initially, you can then gain traction over a longer time frame for more competitive keywords in your market.
There are many recognised methods for link building including:
Requesting 1-way links
Ideally of course, the content you post on your site should be good enough that other webmasters want to link to it and do so from their own sites.
Good content, and a site that engages the user, provides value, provides interest etc, helps lead to a beneficial social marketing effect.
Effective use of social media can then leverage that and be very effective for SEO purposes.
So There is NO Single Most Important Thing for Effective SEO ?
Pretty much, that’s correct. No shortcuts, no magic bullet.
The good news though, is that if each of the component parts is well implemented, the overall result is more effective seo than can be achieved by doing any one thing alone.
A site with good structure, containing good content based on well chosen keywords, with good on page optimization, sitemaps etc, will only go so far for so long without a link building and social media strategy.
Similarly, trying to put the wind in the sails of poorly built boat will be less effective than for one well designed and built for the purpose required.
And of course, it’s a continuing process of monitoring and reviewing results until the desired result, a number 1 ranking, is achieved. That may require more backlinking, or may require more on page optimization, additional content, alternative keyword selection etc.
Even when the site has been successfully optimized and achieved number 1 status for a keyword, it needs monitoring to ensure it stays ahead of competition that will be trying to do the same. And you’ll also likely want similar results for additional keywords too.
Both parts of this post cover Search Engine Optimization with a broad brush, but it is an important point to note that there is no single most important thing for effective SEO.