My first experience with an “actual” SEO company was not pleasant. The folks who work there were pleasant enough, but seeing how they are doing work for their clients was discouraging. I did learn many things, however. One thing that I have known for a long time, and which I have tried to base my professional web career on, was reinforced for me.

There are no shortcuts to creating good content.

Amen, right? But there are many SEO and marketing pros out there who still don’t get it. Even after Penguin and Panda, many so-called marketing companies are using black hat or grey hat techniques for their clients. When they do that, they are placing their clients at risk. It’s inexcusable.

What are we really saying when we acknowledge that there are no shortcuts to creating good content? Well, we’re saying this:

  • SEO starts with creating good content
  • You’ll need to gather followers and attract an audience to that content
  • Neither of these things are easy

As a result of this “revelation” that good content is critical for SEO success, SEO companies are morphing themselves into marketing companies.  The SEO company I recently did some work with actually uses the words “internet marketing” in their company name. But they didn’t have a clue as to how to market (their idea of social media marketing was scheduling the same two tweets and two Facebook messages every day, which linked to the client’s own site) or create good content.

Instead, they were trying to game the system- still. But that’s what artificial link building was, and that’s why Google slapped that away. Google wants legitimate relevancy, they want sites that PEOPLE like, not machines. This is important:

Build websites that are helpful to human beings, not robots.

The SEO company I mention was abandoning their old method of buying links, since Google frowns on that, and instead was buying websites and planning to send links from them to their clients. They failed to recognize that purchasing page rank and passing it along is not legit.

If you have to purchase relevancy or followers, you’re doing it wrong.

Indeed, when it comes to social media influence, the leader of this SEO company went to a popular Twitter marketplace and “purchased” a few hundred followers. Never mind if these people ever really visited his content or brand, they were now his “followers”. How loyal do you think they really are? How likely are they to share his content? Not likely.

Another thing that marketing companies are doing is farming out content creation. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but you should be publishing content that has value. Simply “ordering” 500 words about a topic isn’t creating good content. It’s automating the system. It’s adding to the noise without making the music any sweeter.

If you can automate it and make it real easy, it’s probably not good. 

I’ll be writing more about my first look at how the SEO sausage is made, but for now, I hope that webmasters, site owners, creatives, writers, designers, marketers, SEO “specialists” and anyone else in the WWW profession remembers that good content doesn’t come easy. Good traffic takes time. Gathering a crowd that adds value to your brand takes effort and time.

Let’s work toward an Internet where good content rises to the top because it’s good, not because it was easy to make.

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This post is written by Dan Holmes, owner of Boone Digital. He built his first website in 1993 and has been creating content since. He is a published author and freelance writer. He recently worked on a project with an SEO/Internet Marketing company and is sharing his thoughts here.