Isn’t it time you future-proof your SEO strategy?
by Tony McGarry
Whether you manage the search engine optimization for your organization or not, if you are in charge of marketing for your enterprise, you should at least have some command of SEO basics. Otherwise, you might fall for, just like too many other companies’ marketing head honchos, slick talking SEO company representatives trying to get your company’s online marketing business. These sales representatives might lure you in with a free ‘SEO audit’ or even an ‘in-depth’ SEO analysis. Sure, the charts they might show you might seem impressive (at the very least, they are colorful!) but the sad truth is that most of these companies don’t really follow SEO best practices.
If you knew even a fraction of search engine optimization basics, at least those advocated by Google, you would quickly filter the many SEO firms, ‘consultants,’ and other hucksters trying to get a piece of your company’s monthly online marketing budget. Most of these companies, especially the cheaper ones from overseas, outright flunk SEO best practices. In fact, if you
take a peek at many of the firms advertising themselves through email solicitations, most don’t even have a credible SEO checklist. In case you fell for the slick talk, and you signed on the dotted line with any of these companies, make sure the SEO strategy you’ve hired them to do is future-proof. Failure to do so might doom your company’s chances of getting a high volume of free, targeted traffic from search engines. The stakes could not be any higher.
Reality: Google’s algorithm will continue to get more and more advanced
Google used to be described as a ‘blind five-year-old’ by many search professionals. This is with good reason-Google was quite easy to trick. You only need to find keywords that had decent monthly search volume and little competition to lay the groundwork for an online moneymaking machine. You use one cheap original article, feed it into a text spinner, create links by posting the spun text to many places online, and link to the original article on your site using your target keywords. You can also create links through profile sites, social bookmarks, and other sites that automatically gave you links-all you needed to do was fill out a form. Prior to 2011, it was very easy to rank on Google using these tricks. Then Google Panda and Penguin happened. These algorithm changes wiped out the easy ‘churn and burn’ gravy train of keyword-centered web spam sites. It also knocked down many legitimate companies, just like yours, who hired low quality or ‘quick and dirty’ SEO optimization services that used automated means to make cheap backlinks. The bad news is that it is only getting worse.
Thanks to further updates of Panda and Penguin as well as the modular design of Google Hummingbird, content and link practices Google tolerates or rewards now might be penalized in the future. It doesn’t pay to be edgy when it comes to Google’s quality content and backlink guidelines. Hummingbird, in particular, should make you worry because it has a built in architecture that makes further algorithm updates easier and faster.
Focusing on quality today prevents ranking headaches in the future
Enterprises that got penalized by the Panda, Penguin, or Hummingbird updates got hit because they employed edgy or borderline linking or content tactics that played near the edges of Google’s quality guidelines. This is not where you should be. Your company should be right smack in the middle of Google’s quality guidelines. This means not second guessing Google regarding what quality content and quality links should look like. Otherwise, your site’s rankings can be penalized when Google decides to shrink the circle of acceptable practices. For example, Panda penalized companies that played fast and loose with original content while Penguin penalized online properties that used low quality link sources using lazy linking patterns.
Focus on earning links instead of building them
Building links requires deliberate, intentional, and, often, manipulative action. Google has said, time and time again, that it is against any manipulation of link signals. It prefers that all sites gain links ‘naturally.’ This happens when a page’s content is so good that other sites, completely on their own, link to that page. While this does happen, it takes forever. Most companies don’t have the luxury of time to wait for links to organically and naturally appear. This is why there is a market for SEO companies. Their job is to get you those links faster than ‘natural’ links. Your company would do well if you make sure whoever is doing your search optimization work to focus on earning links instead of building them. Google’s penalties and algorithm updates target manipulation and the circle of active link management Google finds acceptable is getting tighter and tighter. Instead of trying to play a tiring game of staying one step ahead of Google’s quality link policies and algorithm updates, do yourself a favor by focus on earning links instead of building them. You still won’t be waiting for ‘natural’ links to appear like Google would prefer you to do. Instead, you’re still taking action to get your site’s content noticed. The big difference is that you aren’t building the links yourself. Others link to your pages voluntarily because you raised awareness regarding your pages.
Focus on building a community with your site’s visitors
A key element of earning links instead of building them is to build a vibrant community around your content. If you cultivate a vibrant community around your quality content, you get your site visitors to become emotionally invested in what you’re doing. As a result, they are more likely to spread the word about your website through social networks, forums, and blogs. This high level of buzz can, and often do, lead to people and websites you don’t know or control linking to you.
Make no mistake about it Google sounds like a broken record regarding quality content and quality links. If you want to future-proof your website against any future nasty surprises from Google, follow its own best SEO practices. Focus on quality content, focus on reader engagement, and focus, above all else, on adding real value to the lives of your site’s visitors.