Over the past few weeks, we’ve been giving you our SEO predictions for 2013. We’ve been explaining how Google is cracking down on manipulative SEO.


Image Source: WesleyDonahue.com

And as we’ve discussed, one of the big misconceptions about SEO is that it’s all about tricking or manipulating Google.  But that’s an ‘old school’ mindset that can get you into a lot of trouble.

Instead of trying to trick Google, you should aim to give Google what it wants.

Google’s Goal: Show The Best Results

Google wants to satisfy its users, so they’ll keep using its search engine.

Imagine… You live in New York City and you just got locked out of your apartment. You suddenly need a locksmith.  What do you do?

You pull out your mobile phone, go to Google and search for a locksmith.

How is Google’s going to choose which locksmiths to show (in the non-advertising results)?

Well, it’s in Google’s best interest to show you the highest-quality, most trustworthy locksmiths in NYC.

Google doesn’t want to introduce you to a locksmith who will rip you off… because if everybody becomes dissatisfied with Google’s search results and stop using Google’s search engine, then Google’s advertising revenue would plummet.

That’s just one example. But the same is true for informational websites and e-commerce websites. Google wants to make sure it’s serving up high-quality results. And Google analyzes tons of different criteria to determine whether you deserve to rank at the top — or not.

What Does Google Look For?

Google looks at tons of factors. But in most cases (in most industries and for most keywords), the single biggest factor is links — the quality and quantity of hyperlinks pointing from other websites to your website.

It’s important to recognize that not all links are created equal. It’s much more powerful for your rankings to get a link from the New York Times website than from Joe Schmo’s blog.

So how can you accomplish that?

How to Get High-Quality Links

Here are some steps you can take to help Google see you as a trusted resources for information, products, and/or services.

1. Build A Better Widget

What’s the ultimate best way to get great links to your website? Simple. Create something other people will actually want to link to, whether it’s an article or a video or some other kind of resource. Adam Henige’s recent guest post details a very practical method he calls Broken Link Building.

2. Grow Your Online Network and Audience

In addition, you should always be building the size and quality of your online audience (specifically, your email list and your social media following) as well as relationships with influencers in your industry (such as bloggers and journalists). Once you build up your online audience and network, you’ll have many more opportunities to gain awareness and distribution for your content — and as a result, you can attract more links. This is where SEO meets social media and public relations.

3. Leverage Your Offline Relationships

At the same time, don’t ignore the “real” world. As Phil explained in his article, Get Offline to Improve Your Search Rankings, you can leverage your in-person relationships to help you get more links. You typically have some opportunities you could take advantage of right now if you just spent a few minutes thinking about your offline relationships. Chances are you have a business partner who would link to you, or you know somebody who would let you publish a guest blog post on their blog.

Treat Google Like Your Partner

Don’t focus on trying to “trick” Google into giving you rankings. Instead, make sure you are providing search results and experiences that will truly satisfy Google’s users. And then use the 3 methods outlined above (among others) to establish your website’s credibility and authority. You’re in business for the long-term, right? So you might as well take a long-term approach to search engine optimization — and treat Google like your partner, rather than your opponent.