We’ve said it over and over again: One of the best ways to get your website ranking high in search results is to create great blog content that prompts people to link to it, share it in social media, and comment on the blog post itself.
I’m about to blow our own trumpet here, and I hope you’ll forgive me. We’ve just experienced the magic of great content right here on our own website - and it’s such a good example of why content matters, I had to share.
On April 16, Kristina Weis – our community manager and most active blogger – published a blog post about how to avoid an unnatural links penalty from Google. The post hit a nerve with people: It has been tweeted (on Twitter) 149 times, shared on LinkedIn 77 times, and on Google+ 26 times, as of this morning. In addition, there are now 79 comments on the blog post itself. Admittedly, 18 are responses from us, but that’s still 61 comments from people who found the article valuable. And what’s especially heartening is seeing people answering each other in the comments – now that’s community!
Here’s the magic: I checked Google last night to see how the article was ranking. (I used a different computer and browser from my work machine, to avoid getting personalized search results.) I found the article in the No. 9 position for the search term “unnatural links.” That means Kristina’s article now ranks as high as unnatural links articles in some of the top SEO blogs that we hold in high esteem.
I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to see the strategy we advise people to follow – cascading your content into social media for more visibility – working for our own website. We’ve certainly seen it work for other people, but there’s a real thrill in seeing it work for AboutUs.com, which is a fairly new website for us. (We still own and operate AboutUs.org, the world’s largest editable directory of websites.)
Why did the Unnatural Links post get such a big response?
There are a few reasons. No. 1 & No. 2: It’s a timely topic, and one that scares website owners. As you can see in the comments, people are asking all kinds of questions about what kinds of backlinks are okay, how to get spammy backlinks removed, and what to do if they get a penalty notice.
So if you can write a blog post on your own site that’s timely and addresses your audience’s hot buttons, do it! You don’t have to know the whole story to write a post, if there’s enough information to make it interesting right now. You can always update the post itself, or write a later post with more of the story, and link the two. (And by the way, internal links are great for SEO. They tell search engines that the content on your site is rich, that different articles relate to each other, and that you believe in helping your site visitors find the content they’re looking for.)
The Unnatural Links post also got a lot of response because we promoted it in social media, as we do with all of our blog posts. We do that in our AboutUs accounts, and most of us promote AboutUs content in our own personal accounts, too.
Promoting our blog posts this way works because we have a very engaged following in our social media accounts, especially Twitter. People ask us questions, we respond, and we solicit people’s opinions and feedback in our social media accounts. We’ve been doing this for years, so our following is a genuine one: People who really want to read what we post.
There’s one other factor that really helps: We have an email list that people have opted into because they want SEO and social media tips. We send out teasers to our blog posts when we think our email subscribers will be interested in them, and that helps promote our content, too.
You can get great results, too.
It won’t happen overnight – but if you write great content, get engaged in social media, and give people the opportunity to sign up for informative, interesting emails, you too can get your best blog posts ranking high in Google search results.
Aliza Earnshaw is vice president of business development at AboutUs. A former business reporter and editor, Aliza still indulges her love of great writing and working with creative writers while pursuing business opportunities for AboutUs.