Forget Plus Ones: Just Write Freakishly Good Content

Dylan On Floor

Just like you, I get sucked into this mess. Bewitched by the idea somebody’s cracked the ranking code — looked beneath the search engine hood (and survived).

The most recent carnival show was Cyrus Shephard’s claim that plus ones cause higher rankings. A claim like that is going to get attention.

And attention it got.

Matt Cutts, head of Google+ Web Spam, said, politely, you are wrong.

I’m sure Matt is wary of doing such correction. There is no shortage of prognosticators who believe they’ve cracked the code.

Complexity and Content Creation

Earlier this year Lyndon NA tried to simplify Google+ posts and how they passed Page Rank (which I think was a spin-off of a Joshua Berg experiment).

I crawled through Lyndon’s work, found it interesting, then thought, “Whoa, this is worse than the rabbinical laws on what you can and cannot do on the Sabbath.”

And as in the case of the Sabbath laws, only the specialists understood the complexity. The rest of us were left to wonder if we might miss out if we don’t bone up on this rank impact plus one business.

Instead of rules, though, we (content creators) need principles. And the principle has been there — in plain sight — all along: create quality content.

Will Your Study Change My Behavior?

This is not to dismiss the nuances in SEO.

For example, there is a right and wrong way to share links on Google+ … claiming your content through authorship markup is beneficial … and “a canonical page is the preferred version of a set of pages with highly similar content.”

I get that. All tips in plain sight.

But there comes a time when every study has to answer this question: how will your findings change my behavior?

In the case of Shepherd, it won’t change an iota if you are — and have been — committed to creating quality content. Shepherd knows this because the advice he offers after he presents the study is old news.

The bottom line remains: you could completely ignore Shepherd’s and Berg’s research, write darn good content, and still make massive waves on the social web.

We already know this: social signals influence rankings. How much, tough to say.

But you don’t need to know how much. You just need to know how to get attention. And it starts with great content.

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  1. says

    Creating quality content has always been the way to go — content that’s informative, helpful, and solve people’s problem. That’s first principle. Every content creator cares about SEO, but great content takes precedence.

    If new research doesn’t present something “new”, then what’s the point of it? If it doesn’t help you produce better content, or at lease show you how to get the most out of your content, then there isn’t anything “new” about that research.

  2. says

    I’m so glad you’re saying this, Demian! So many more beginners should hear this (I’ll do my bit to get your message out to them :) ).

    This is the kind of info that could stop them getting bored to tears trying to follow how-to-get-top-ranks-in-Google advice, and then getting frustrated when it doesn’t work for them. Mostly because they didn’t really understand it – like I don’t. And, like me, get despondent by it all, thinking it’s what blogging et al is all about. And that my wish to write quality articles that actually say something I feel strongly about and want to share *isn’t* what it’s about. Thus quit. Because, I’m obviously not the right person to be blogging.

    It smacks of the old pre-internet days of “Business Opportunities” which was full of its own myths and legends.

    On a side note: Love your pics! Where d’you source them?

  3. says

    Right on Demian. Fantastic insight and warning. Sure there is a short term gain to short cuts and the quick solution. The Japanese whipped us in the 70’s because they had the long view while we were worried about what would happen next month and no later than the end of the quarter.

    All you had to do then was get the sale up in 90 days and you were a hero. Problem was and still is for those who still won’t learn – short term thinking forces us to completely ignore the impact on the long term. So you will often find short term gains at the expense of the long term.

    So I am on board: “you could completely ignore Shepherd’s and Berg’s research, write darn good content, and still make massive waves on the social web.” Fantastic view and post. Thanks Cheers

  4. says

    Nice post. Philosophically I’m from the school of “people first, machines second.” Google is an imperfect attempt to do the job that human beings would do if there were enough people in the world to evaluate all the content that’s created for the web every single day. The more advanced Google’s algorithms get, the better it will be at finding truly great content, so why not start making it now? :) Thanks.

  5. says

    I agree. It’s easy to see that the blogs with the biggest followers are not necessarily the best people at internet marketing when it comes to them being amazing in SEO, building niche sites or products. It’s that they are some of the best at giving great content. Even if they don’t have all the answers they will research and gather information and give it to the readers in an engaging way.

    I hated studying English and Writing in school, even though I was the best at spelling in my class. I am finding now that I started blogging, my writing skills are really lacking. I find myself not knowing when to end a paragraph, I misuse commas, my writing is very dry. I decided from now on my goal is to become a much better writer. Reading blogs like this and reading books focused on writing better is what I decided to do first. If you have any other tips it would be appreciated!

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