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SEO - How The Search Ranking Game Has Changed in 2016

After several years of working as an IT support specialist, I found myself unemployed, unable to find a job, and confused as to what to do next.
In the event of exploring my options one idea popped into mind, why not build a website and monetize from advertising? Over a period of several months in the beginning of 2012 I did massive planning as to what type of website and or content I was going to produce, how I was going to produce it, while taking into consideration what resources I would need to pull it off.

Having no other options I went forward with my plan to develop an IT tutorials site. Honestly, I failed miserably in the beginning, but I've learned a lot in the short time period of about one year since developing my sites, and I'd like to share what I learned so others can make well informed decisions and avoid some of the mistakes that I made.

You see the internet is like a giant puzzle in which there are a huge plethora of technologies that must work together in order for a single website to become successful. Too make matters worse, the entire internet lays at the mercy of the search giants, and those who already hold a high rank on the internet.
Nonetheless, I followed Google's advice "Just create high quality content", in hopes of having a successful, well ranking website online. Too bad it didn't happen the way Google's Matt Cutts said it would.

Mistake #1: You Don't Make Effective use of Social Media!
This is partly what killed my first website early on, which was the fact that no one knew it even existed. The best way to get noticed online is to make your presence known, and social media can make that happen. Back in Dec of 2012 I jumped onto the social network Google+, which by the way is the newest of the larger social media platforms.

I learned so much from my time on Google+ I can't help but want to share the knowledge I gained from my experience. A few of the things I learned were that, you have to actually connect with people, you must be persistent, and you must be willing to pay attention to what others have to say.
All being said, it doesn't pay to pretend to be a know it all, let your audience tell you what they want and expect from your product, content, or service, so you know where to focus your efforts (more on this in a bit).

When it comes to social networks, don't advertise your products, services, or websites! It's 2013 now, and the day's of the car salesman are now long gone. Instead, write informative content that people want, like, or need for some reason. The usual argument I've heard here is "well, if I tell everyone all my secrets to doing something, then what reason would they have to purchase my product, service, or subscribe to my content?" Well, believe it or not, providing valuable info to others will help to build a trusting relationship with them.

You don't have to give out every secret in the book either, but providing knowledgeable advice to others will win over their support of you, and it will add credibility and authority to your social profile.
For instance, I write web design tutorials, but not everyone wants to take the time to learn web design, so instead they contact me and ask me to build their sites for them. I just scored a job to build a website for resorts in Cancun as a result of this! All being said, if you are an expert in your field then don't just talk about what you know, show it, explain it, then you will get the credibility you want in return, not to mention tons of followers who will promote your content because they love it and they trust you!

Who would I be to write web design tutorials if I couldn't design a website myself? So I built my websites using nothing more than notepad in Windows (not joking either). I didn't use WordPress, and even coded my sites to work with a multitude of mobile devices.
By showing my knowledge to others, now they have a reason to believe that I'm for real, and not just another content preacher on the web.

Another benefit to social media is the fact that people will naturally share what they like with others. For instance, one article I wrote on my website back on May 4th has now been shared a total of 778 times to Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. 669 of those shares are all from Google+ by the way.
That being said, put social sharing buttons on your websites so that if people like your content they can syndicate it to others in a timely manner.

Making use of social buttons, paying attention to user comments, and being responsive and actively involved with your audience is crucial to developing your presence online. Pay attention to social metrics! The trick here is to find what people like or do not like about your content, product, or service, so you know where your efforts should be focused.

People will tell you what they want if you just listen. This is what I do every day in my job as a content publisher, and take it from me, it works! I now have over 25,000 shares between my two websites, and all those shares were created within the last 4 months.
So social media works as long as you are willing to take the time to make it work for you.

Mistake #2: You Think You Can Make it Online with Just Paid Marketing!
Wrong! In all honesty, you can spend millions of dollars on marketing, but if no one likes your product, service, or content, then that marketing is pointless and you are merely throwing your money away. Quality products, services, and content sell themselves.

I've never spent so much as one dime to market my websites, as my audience from social media does this for me. Again, figure out what people want, and give it to them the best you can!
Mistake #3: You're Too Focused on Your Product and Not on Your Users!
Product development is not a one time event. Quality products go through a development life cycle in which they are continually fine tuned in order to increase user engagement and satisfaction. If you spend all your time focusing on your product and marketing efforts, then you are missing out on the most important aspect of marketing, the people who will actually use your content, products, or services!

This isn't rocket science, its common sense and logical reasoning. I never consider my websites nor the content that resides on them to be complete. They are always under continual development based on my users needs.
Mistake #4: You Think You Don't Need Organic Search Results!
Wrong again! Sure you could use paid marketing platforms, and you can build a strong presence on social media, but unfortunately this is not enough. While I can admit that my social media presence has brought me some good results with organic traffic to much of the content on my websites, there are other factors that weigh just as heavily when it comes to ranking content online that search engines do not ignore.

For one, back links still do matter! Not all links are created equally either. When it comes to getting external links that point to your content, relevance is key! You need to create high quality content on other domains and link that content back to relevant material on your websites themselves.
The more relevant the links between content the better! An article focused on SEO that links to another article about SEO obviously creates a link between relevant content, a big plus with search engines.

If you manage to make effective use of the information I provided in this article, I guarantee you can succeed online. If for some reason your product, service, or content is failing to take off, then this is a red flag that you need to investigate and find out why people aren't taking a liking to your content, so you can make changes that will reflect a better long term outcome.

Either way it goes, remember to build a presence on social media (I spent thousands of hours), listen to your users (they will tell you what they want, what they like, and what they dislike), and build high quality back links from quality domains.
As an example that I practice what I preach, I provided a link below to a social media article I wrote that makes a comparison among the major social networks, including LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. If you look at the social icons on the page you will notice that the page, again, was shared over 750 times in just a matter of days.

What do you think this social metric tells me about my content? That's right, people like it, and they proved this both on Google+ and on the website itself. When I post an article, they always take off, and always get shared like crazy, and not because I'm some content genius either, I just focus on what people want and write on those topics.

That's really all there is to it. Thanks for reading.

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