Bing's Duane Forrester urged marketers to focus on content marketing - not just inbound links - when developing an SEO strategy.

Bing’s Duane Forrester recently urged marketers practicing SEO to ensure their strategies aren’t solely focused on inbound links. While it’s certainly true that garnering links will improve a site’s rankings on most major search engines, Forrester believes marketers should focus on a well-rounded strategy that will organically result in more links for their sites.

Developing a content marketing effort that establishes a company as a true authority in its industry goes a long way toward generating links. Brafton has previously quoted Forrester as saying, “Never lose sight of the fact that all SEO ranking signals revolve around content of some kind.”

Articles and other website content aimed at educating an audience will likely generate positive brand perceptions, which will help gain inbound links.

Moreover, a strong social media marketing presence can achieve a similar goal. Sharing content on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks can drive site traffic and compel followers and fans to share the articles with their own contacts.

Both web content and social media can improve a site’s overall presence on the web and naturally fuel linkbuilding. Focusing too heavily on links can result in some opting to buy links or use low-quality content with the sole intention of inserting their own links. Google, Bing and other organizations frown heavily upon such practices, and they’re like to have the inverse effect on SEO.

“If all the time that was spent seeking [SEO] shortcuts was invested into producing quality, engaging content, more websites would find success.” – Duane Forrester, Bing Webmaster senior product manager

Forrester and other search experts have been clear in their advice to marketers. Instead of simply focusing on the end result of a good search ranking, focusing on content and social will position a business well to succeed with search. Users ultimately have the greatest impact on search ranking, as they’re the one providing site traffic and links. Creating content of all kinds that compels users to engage and share it will result in the SEO lift marketers are looking for. In fact, his post mirrors a recent comment from Matt Cutts. As Brafton reported, Google’s search engineer advised marketers against taking shortcuts in SEO.

“The point here is not to get caught up in one single aspect of the complex world of SEO,” Forrester wrote. “Links, while still holding value, have evolved as signals over time. If we see a sudden appearance of obviously spammy links pointed at your site, and your site is otherwise showing a history of trustworthiness, we’re most likely going to just ignore those links.”

Forrester’s comments fall in line with other recent moves from Bing that aim to help companies with trustworthy content stand out – sometimes, perhaps, in spite of links. Brafton recently highlighted a new tool from Bing that allows marketers to disavow inbound links from low-quality websites.

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.