Remember when SEO experts declared that personalized search was the be-all and end-all of search engine rankings? Well, almost 10 years later, we are having the same discussion due to Google’s Panda and Penguin updates. And, much to everyone’s relief, Google’s new algorithm does not mean the death of SEO — not even close.
These new updates are not killing SEO. Rather, they are forcing SEO strategies to evolve to use higher-quality methods; old black hat techniques will no longer fly with Google. Internet marketers can take advantage of these new changes if they use a few of the techniques below.
Why SEO Is Not Dead
As long as there are search engines, SEO will never be dead; it will only continue to evolve and adapt, along with the rest of the search engine landscape. The only reason that people say “SEO is dead” is simply because search engines are changing to make it more difficult for marketers to use cheap tricks when optimizing. You can no longer build thousands of links via low-quality sites with bland, meaningless content and hope to have high rankings. This is an improvement for users — and a challenge for marketers.
How SEO Is Evolving
The biggest challenge companies are now facing is that an Internet marketer can no longer just set up SEO strategies for a site and be done. Rather, a company must continue to improve its content and work to develop high-quality links and user experiences. Here are a few methods I’ve had success with:
Infographics: Infographics are, by far, one of the most underutilized ways to generate links to your content (link bait). Find some interesting statistics or facts that are relevant to your industry, create an infographic, syndicate it, and let viral marketing do the work for you.
How-To Guides: Content that contains valuable information is an excellent way to generate relevant interest in your site. Present this advice in an easy-to-read, digestible format. Offer it as a free download on your site, and blogs and forums will be linking to it in no time.
Educational Videos: These videos are a way for your company to provide value to users, and search engines love that. Videos also let you use the world’s most-used search engine: YouTube. You don’t have to be Steven Spielberg; you just need to create some helpful content for your visitors.
Social Media: The previous three methods not only generate interest in your site, but these forms of content are ideal for sharing on social channels. This is important because social media is now a big component of Google’s algorithm, as the search engine now generally puts more emphasis on social media “likes,” shares, tweets, and +1s to rank websites than backlinks.
SEO Practices to Avoid
Google is now penalizing spammy links and duplicate content, and you don’t want to get on Google’s bad side. Here are some practices to eliminate from your strategy if you want to ensure you aren’t penalized by the Panda and Penguin updates:
- DON’T Be a Weekend SEO Warrior: I’ve noticed the majority of companies affected are business owners who try unethical tricks to obtain rankings. If you don’t know what you’re doing with SEO, just stick to writing quality content and appearing in industry publications.
- Focus on Quality over Quantity: It is exponentially better to have a handful of high-quality links or valuable pieces of content than an endless amount of spammy links and low-quality content. Try to build great articles that include images, charts, and graphs, rather than the keyword-ridden word dumps that have sunk many businesses’ online reputations.
- Beware of Shady SEO Companies: Stay away from SEO companies that work behind the scenes. Instead, start talking to content development companies that work hand-in-hand with you to develop high-quality content. These companies are the new SEO experts.
It’s important to realize that Google is not trying to eliminate any particular company or kill SEO. Rather, the search engine now requires more from an Internet marketing strategy than simple backlinks and keywords. You need valuable content and a little creativity to be considered a reputable company on the Internet, but fortunately, these new best practices are well within reach.
*This is a guest article by Phil Laboon*