Why Content Marketing Is the Safest SEO Bet

The science of search engine optimization has changed dramatically over the past several years. At one point, businesses could obtain a fairly high search engine ranking by simply filling pages with keywords and title tags. Those days are long gone, however, and all major search engines have complex algorithms designed to weed out low-quality web pages that have poor content.

If you're actively looking for ways to bring traffic to your website, one of your goals is probably to dominate SERPs (search engine result pages) for a number of competitive and relevant keywords. Google is well known for updating its search algorithm hundreds of times per year to improve user search experience and weed out low-quality websites. Web users apparently appreciate the effort. According to market researcher comScore Inc., Google owns 66.4 percent share of the search engine market.

Search Engine Market Share in 2012 by comScore

Over the past two years, Google gradually introduced two major updates to its algorithm that delivered a crushing blow to content farms that produce low-quality pages to game the system. The Panda and Venice updates restructured Google's search results page substantially, putting more of a focus on user popularity and penalizing blatant attempts at SEO.

Google's updates show the importance of focusing on the user experience. There's no magic key to search engine optimization, and quality content will always draw in more readers and better search engine rankings than low-quality pages.

In order to create quality content, businesses should use a few of the following tips:

I. Target a specific audience

Do not attempt to target high-competition keywords unless you are in a unique position to do so. Instead, look for specific keywords (aka long-tail keywords) that might be more attainable. Local keywords are also a great target since Google's Panda and Venice search algorithm updates.

II. Keep keywords to a 1-3 percent density

Google penalizes websites that try to use keywords unnaturally in order to increase their ranking. Free keyword density tool by SEObook provides an easy way to make sure that you aren't hitting your targeted keyword too often. Generally, you should shoot for a 1-3 percent keyword density and use alternate forms of your keywords whenever possible.

III. Back up your facts

Articles with linked statistics show the writer's authority and give readers a reason to pass on the information. This can result in more incoming links from a variety of sources, which will improve Google ranking.

IV. Invite discussion and interaction, where applicable

Forum posts frequently make their way to the top of Google. By inviting your readers to make comments or share your page, you can get great results.

V. Double-check grammar

Double-check grammar and make your articles as readable as possible. Readable content attracts more readers. Break up content with small images, headers, lists and other elements. Make sure that each page loads quickly and get rid of any artifacts that might inhibit the user experience, especially large flash files, videos and other "heavy" elements. Read our blog post about top 9 negative website factors.

Ultimately, to get a better ranking on search engines like Google, you need to optimize your page for readers, not for Google's spiders. Given Google's history of algorithm improvements, any simple attempts to take advantage of its current algorithm will only yield limited short-term results.

Chase Fleming is the Founder of Content Row, a site which lets you buy unique pre-written content for your site.