There's no permanent, one-size-fits-all solution to optimizing your marketing for search. Tactics shift, algorithms update, and trends in content marketing mean companies have to constantly stay on their toes. That's why learning from the experts themselves and preparing for the future is so important -- and industry conferences can help you connect to them.

I mentioned in my last article that my team attended the Brand ManageCamp conference, and we didn't stop there. Last month, one of my VPs attended MozCon, a digital marketing conference in Seattle, to learn from industry leaders and identify and evolve with the latest trends.

What You Need to Know to Improve Your SEO

A member of my team sat down with Rand Fishkin, Moz founder, and Sarah Bird, CEO, to find out more about the future of SEO and how it applies to content marketing. Here are four areas shaping SEO as we know it and what companies can do to stay competitive:

1. Higher satisfaction for searchers means quality don't quit.

Google is crazy smart, and it's only getting smarter with its machine-learning system, RankBrain. Instead of matching exact keywords to search results, RankBrain delivers results that match your search intent.

Now, obviously keywords still matter. But with the help of its machine-learning tools, Google can get a better understanding of what you're actually trying to find and match content that satisfies it -- which means fewer results that match keywords but don't provide any real insight into what you're looking for. That's good news for content marketers (and their audiences), and it indicates that keeping quality a priority will help you get your content in front of the right people.

2. Myth busted: More than one link back to your site is bad.

At some point or another, people started thinking that if one source linked back to your site multiple times, then it wasn't valuable or you could even be penalized for it. This just isn't true, and it's one of a few weird link-building myths you should ignore.

If you're looking to build a following at a specific site, then contributing content consistently won't hurt you in search engine results pages. In fact, publishing content to a variety of sites your audience trusts and engages with can help you expand your reach, actually improve SEO, build your brand, and keep you top of mind. So don't shy away from publishing multiple times on one site -- consistency is your best friend.

3. Guilt by association is real.

Publishing to big-name publications just because you want to see your name on the byline isn't a good strategy. And contrary to popular belief, smaller niche sites can be extremely valuable. My team at Influence & Co. takes this approach with our content: Publish where your readers are, not just where you'd like to be published.

That said, you still have to do your research with any publication to make sure the audience there is truly engaged. Look for things like shares and comments, and check to see that the other content is well-written and high-quality. Not only will contributing to sites that don't meet these standards hurt you in searches, but it also might make your audience start associating you with spammy sites. Moz's tools like Spam Score and Domain Authority can help you weed out the bad seeds.

4. Your SEO pathway needs to be scalable.

SEO is about more than just linking to the right sources. Your success depends on your ability to create actually high-quality content that your audience wants to engage with and scaling so you can build on that content naturally.

Consistently create content your audience will find relevant and publish through the right channels to form a process for amplifying your content and building SEO. Don't forget that how you distribute that content is just as important, so experiment with different ways to maximize your content and get it in front of the right audiences.

SEO is constantly changing, and there's no golden ticket to getting it right. The best thing you can do is stay knowledgeable, keep an open mind, and get involved with industry events to learn from the experts. In the meantime, stay focused on creating content your audience will engage with.

I'm sure we'll be having this conversation again soon, as SEO practices are always evolving, just like, well, everything in this industry. The best way I can recommend you stay on top of SEO is by getting involved in conferences like MozCon and engaging in conversations with experts in the industry. In the meantime, focus on creating findable content, targeting high-quality sites (niche included), and maximization, and you'll be an SEO pro.

Published on: Oct 2, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.