This time next year, your business will rank No. 1 in search results! – Every SEO company ever.
Why do they all sound the same? Because it’s these magic words that attract new clients.
The no. 1 position in Google will get you nearly 33% of clicks; 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results; almost 80% of searchers say they commonly choose to click on the organic results.
Image Source: Illumination Consulting
Basically, all you know is that you have to find a way to get to that first page (ideally, first place), no questions asked (aside from the one regarding the price of SEO services, of course). But what that agency actually does to get you to the top is none of your concern.
Well, let me tell you a little secret – it should be. Many are those in the digital industry taking advantage of unethical practices in order to deliver their clients the desired results almost instantly. However, quick fixes and shortcuts don’t bring any good in the long run. Au contraire – they can bury your website deep in the rankings, or even remove it for good.
And it’s not just unethical practices one should steer away from – it’s the outdated ones that are (not so) slowly but surely crossing over to the dark side.
1. Guest blogging is dead
What this statement meant for link builders was that the world was coming to an end. Just as they thought they’d found a loophole in Google’s system, one of search engine’s top people announced all those who earn their backlinks through this method will be penalized.
Now, this actually sounded much worse than it should have. Namely, this did not mean we have to turn to creating quality content and releasing it to the online world, hoping someone will come across it and link to it. No, this algorithm change did not tie our hands; Google targets only irrelevant, low-quality content which contains links that have nothing to do with websites they are posted on.
The solution is to craft unique, informative content that will appeal to wider audiences and offer them answers to their queries. As a result, you’re bound to see increased traffic on your blog and more natural backlinks, which Google is going to reward with higher rankings. Oh, and check out Brian Dean’s post on non-guest posting techniques which can earn you quality backlinks.
2. More is always better
This has been the mantra of many SEOs since the beginnings of digital marketing. The more websites you get to point to you, the more valuable you will be in the eyes of Google. Though this claim has been denied on numerous occasions, many are still exchanging and buying links, posting them in comments, forums, and directories, etc.
Then the Penguin was released to attack those who have concentrated on building as many links as possible in the least amount of time; and yet, links are still listed as one of the strongest ranking factors. Evidently, these situations leave link builders clueless of what their approach should be.
The solution is to (as it was the case with content creation) focus on quality. When you have a piece worth linking to, something others will consider worthy of presenting to their audiences, instead of defining a certain number of links to build to it, make a list of possible websites where you could offer your content as a relevant source of information. Target high-quality sites and industry influencers – this method won’t bring as many backlinks, but the ones you do acquire will prove more beneficial.
3. Keeping count of keywords
With most agencies, optimization of a website begins with keyword research and analysis in order to determine the relevant phrase a business should rank for. The myth you’ve likely come across in your life is that the more times you repeat a keyword, the higher you will rank for that term. Again, this has been debunked by Matt Cutts himself, who says there is no recipe – it’s not like baking cookies.
You can stop counting how many times you’ve mentioned a particular phrase on your page and in other elements, like meta tags or alt attributes of images. Still, experts prefer to highlight that although there is a minimum number that has to be satisfied (after all, you need to give Google a hint about what you’re talking about) that doesn’t mean you should follow the advice which states your keyword should be found once in every 100 words, or in every title, meta, H tag. Once you go overboard, you’ll be labeled “spammer”, not just in the eyes of search engines, but users as well.
The solution is to decide upon a keyword that best describes your product, services or topic you are writing about, and sees that it naturally fits the content you are creating.
4. It’s no longer just about on-page optimization
A few years ago, Wikipedia and other big fish ruled the search results simply because of their high domain authority (DA). That is no longer the case – even though DA is still a ranking factor, search engines no longer look at the size of the website or its overall popularity. These days you’re likely to hear content strategists convincing webmasters they need to focus on a topical authority, that is, one prevalent topic your site should focus on.
What this means is that on-page optimization has extended to on-site optimization. In layman’s words, it’s not so effective to focus all your efforts on optimizing one page for a particular keyword and trying to earn links to it but should instead work on building your entire brand around a relevant phrase.
The solution is to work on establishing yourself as an authority in your industry. You will need to go far beyond an on-page SEO checklist and anchor text links. It’s essential that you start creating associations between your website and your business niche through quality content that will indicate to search engines you are the one who can be trusted on industry topics.
For the end, a cliché – change is the only constant in the SEO world – and if you’re not following the trends, you’re falling behind.
Any tactics you notice are no longer working to your advantage? Share with us in the comment section and help your fellow marketers keep up with the trends.
Guest Author: Chloe Smith is a cycling enthusiast, business consultant for an SEO agency in Perth and a part-time writer always willing to share tidbits of advice. She believes that passion, courage and, above all, knowledge breed success.