In an online world dominated by Pandas, Penguins, and other black-and-white animals, there is one savior that website owners who need a guide to traverse the ever-changing SEO landscape… this blog post about SEO for the modern world of Internet marketing!
Over the past several years, search engine optimization has evolved to meet the expectations of users and search engine developers to provide the best results possible. As website owners, you want your content to be at the top of those results, and the strategies to get your website to rank well for certain keywords have changed a lot since the release of Google’s first anti-link-spam algorithm changes in the early 2000s.
What follows is a list of SEO strategies and tactics that you should rule out, as well as some methods that will help your website’s authority in the search engines of 2015 and beyond!
SEO Strategies to Avoid:
- Anything listed in Google’s Link Schemes post on their webmaster forum. This includes paid links, article syndication, guest posting, automated link-placement tools, comment / forum spam, low quality social bookmarking sites, site-wide / footer links, anchor text manipulation (keyword-specific text), and a few others.
- Keyword-specific domain names. The exact-match domain update which was launched back in September of 2012 has devalued many keyword-specific domain names that historically ranked well due to their chosen name, which isn’t necessarily the name of their brand. Establishing a distinct brand and product are your best options.
- Microsites that are used to rank for specific terms / locations. Several years ago, it was commonplace to have several microsites that were created to rank for specific terms which would drive traffic (and new business) to the primary domain. It is much easier for search engines such as Google to determine the value of a site depending on the content provided there. More times than not, a microsite will have very thin content, plus it actually dilutes the authority of your main website. Microsites are also not cost-effective and lead to poor user experience, as the user has to take a few extra steps to navigate to a product page or the actual site that they wish to view. An alternative to microsites could be landing pages which rank well for specific locations and keywords, which will also benefit the primary site.
- Hidden text & hidden links. It may seem obvious enough, but we still see tons of sites using these extremely outdated strategies to help their site rank well in the SERPs. Using similarly-colored text on a similarly-colored background, hiding links behind images in a small portion of a word (such as a hyphen or space) or completely off-screen, or setting the font size in the link to zero are all examples of hiding content / links to deceive the search engine. This not only leads to low authority in search engines, but all these hidden links / content can lead to poor user experience, which will increase the bounce-rate from your website.
- Keyword stuffing. In years past, a webmaster could churn out articles that were stuffed to the brim with keywords, search engines would index the content, which in turn would help their site rank higher for those key terms. In today’s SEO landscape, keyword stuffing is easy for Google’s Panda algorithm to detect and devalue. Creation of quality content that can hopefully convert readers into customers is the best option if you want to stay ahead of the competition. Keyword stuffing is not limited to on-site content such as articles and product listings, but also found in title tags, meta descriptions, and other locations on your website that are used primarily by search engines.
- Messy internal navigation links. Mostly this focuses on haphazard placement of internal links. Using content within your website is an excellent way to help users get to the product / service pages that you want them to visit. If you are creating “circles” with your internal links with no specific strategy in mind, stop now, and develop a distinct internal linking strategy to help guide your users to the pages that will increase your conversions and sales.
SEO Strategies to Seek:
- Responsive website design that works well on desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Google has put heavy emphasis since early 2014 that responsive design for websites is going to be a primary ranking factor moving forward. Since then, mobile / tablet usability has come to the forefront of many webmasters’ minds, as more and more people use mobile devices to access websites. One of Google’s leading developers, Pete LePage, created a guide about responsive design, which you should definitely review if you want to integrate a responsive layout into your website.
- Create new, unique content. Creating content has been blogged about hundreds, even thousands, of times. However, there are still websites out there that rely on stock images and descriptions for their products and/or services. On top of that, without a blog, how are users going to believe you are an authority in your niche? Developing a user-friendly, on-site blog can help bring people to your site and further solidifies your knowledge of your specific product or service.
- Multimedia content including pictures, videos, and other mediums. The popularity of social websites and apps such as YouTube, SnapChat, and Pinterest has created a need for many online businesses to establish their presence and authority in these areas. These places are great for creating viral content that can reach potential customers that would not know of your website otherwise. Kissmetrics conducted a study on product video conversions that shows the benefits of creating multimedia content for your users, as many of the top search results are videos
- Link building is NOT dead, it has evolved, and you must adapt with these changes. I don’t want to get into the specifics, but link building is not nearly as “useless” as many people in the search engine space would lead you to believe. Links are still a primary factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. That being said, the SEO strategies of years past are just that, in the past. If your SEO is still focusing on easily replicated linking tactics, fire them. They may be showing some good results in the short-term, but the long-term implications of link spam can land you in Google’s penalty box.
- Use social media to interact with your users / customers. If you do not understand how to use Facebook, Twitter, or the other social media platforms, then you need to hire someone that can handle that for your website. In the ever-connected world in which we live, social media interaction is a must for any company. Although Google is not using social media signals in their search algorithm (see Matt Cutts’ video for a more detailed explanation), social media is a great place to give a human face to your website and company. Your customers will appreciate the interaction that you provide on social media.
Did I miss any SEO strategies that webmasters need to integrate or separate from their existing Internet marketing methodology? Let me know your ideas in the comments below or you can let me know on Twitter: @Tripp_Hamilton.