A friendly reminder of content rule number one.

When it comes to online marketing strategies, quality now trumps quantity in terms of importance and effectiveness. In the past, creating a huge amount of content, building thousands of backlinks, or posting to social media outlets multiple times per day were techniques thought to bring about search engine marketing success. Eventually, Google, Yahoo, and other search engines got wise to the fact that much of the content being produced provided little in terms of actual value to searchers looking for information.

Changes to search engine algorithms (like Google’s Penguin and Panda) saw a shift in prioritization from volume and frequency to relevance and quality when it came to backlinks, web content, and other online marketing strategies. As a result, the past few years have seen advertisers adjust their efforts toward the implementation of highly relevant, quality online marketing techniques rather than focusing solely on volume. Many factors have contributed to this shift toward quality over quantity, several of which are outlined below.

Changes in Search Engine Algorithms

As search engines have evolved, they have made changes to their ranking algorithms in order to provide users with the most relevant search results possible. In this way, search engine algorithm changes and updates have been the main driving force in the movement toward quality over quantity when it comes to search engine marketing strategies. Google in particular has made it a point to initiate algorithm changes in order to offset any attempts to increase search rankings by means that provide less value to the end user. Updates such as Caffeine, Penguin, and Panda were intended to combat the use of diluted content, bogus link building, and various other black-hat SEO tactics.

Decreasing Content Quality

When it became clear that the major search engines were placing a high value on the amount of new content being produced by websites, there was a rush to pump out as much content as possible, regardless of the quality. For some sites, this technique worked well for a little while. At the end of the day, however, search engines like Google and Yahoo are only as good as the information and resources they provide to users. This meant that low-quality, diluted content that existed primarily to improve search engine rankings was out, and highly relevant content designed to genuinely inform users was in. Today, the general rule among online marketing professionals when it comes to creating web content is to write for users first and search engines second.

Irrelevant Backlink Building

It used to be that the site with the most backlinks would win in the search engine rankings more often than not. Websites engaged in link building practices where a huge volume of links was the primary goal, even if the links had nothing to do with a particular website’s products, services, or content. After several updates were made by search engines in order to discourage irrelevant link building strategies, there was a shift among online marketing companies toward higher quality link acquisitions. Today, a single one-way link to a quality site of relevance is considered more valuable than ten irrelevant, low-quality links in the eyes of the major search engines.

Awareness of Poor Quality Web Traffic

Websites with huge amounts of daily, weekly, and monthly visitors were often considered better resources when it came to search engine rankings. As analytics and on-page behavioral data improved, it became clear that more web traffic to a particular site did not necessarily mean that visitors were considering that site as a useful resource. Now that online marketers have access to a wide variety of on-page traffic metrics which measure user engagement, a premium has been placed on attracting visitors who stay longer, browse deeper, and interact more, even if this means less overall traffic volume. Not only has this change impacted the way that websites are analyzed and ranked by search engines, it has also shifted the primary purpose of some websites from an informational source to a legitimate sales platform.

So when it comes to content strategy, link building, and social media, remember this: quality over quantity.

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