SEO is not dead. Here’s what it involves in 2014.

Yesterday I put forward my firm belief that you’ll get a better return on investment from appearing “there or thereabouts” for lots of less glamorous searches, rather than (probably fruitlessly) trying to be “number one” for a single generic search. So how do we tackle this more modern approach to SEO? There are three parts.

The first is to set up your site so that the search engines can index it easily, and in the way that you want them to. This is just as it’s always been, and it involves flagging the content with good page titles, headlines and internal links, and setting up a good sitemap. I’ve written dozens of articles here to help you with that.

The second thing you need to do is to create the content on your site which you want to be found for. It’s amazing how many companies hope to do well for searches such as “blue widget suppliers uk” and forget to actually include that phrase anywhere on their website.

But hang on, you may now be saying. How do we include the thousands of rarely-typed-in searches which – apparently – will get us far more traffic in total than the “glamour” searches? How can I include these phrases on my site if I don’t know what they are, and if the list extends to tens of thousands of them?

The answer is simply in the volume of content on your site. It goes without saying that the more words you have on the site, the greater your chances of catching the searches which you can’t predict, or which might never have been made before (over 15% of all searches, according to Google!). If you have three priorities for getting more search engine traffic, they should be content, content and more content.

The third piece of the jigsaw is promoting that content. This has also been around since the term SEO was invented, although in the earlier days (of Google at least), it meant just one thing: links. These were the “currency” of Google, and the more links you had, the higher up your pages appeared in the search results. However, they were abused, and it’s clear that the search engines have had difficulty keeping up. As the search engines have matured, links have become just one signal of the importance of a page. Nowadays it’s probably as much about social media mentions, clickthrough rate on the search engine results pages and much more besides. But one thing is for sure: if you write pages and then promptly ignore them forever, you shouldn’t expect the search engines to take any interest either. Get links, promote your pages, write great titles which encourage clicks in the search results, do whatever it takes. The search engines will notice.