SEO as a discipline and an industry has matured. While there are still those who engage in massive low-level link building, keyword stuffing and spun content, industry leaders are pushing for long-term SEO goals instead of short-term gains.
At the forefront of this SEO evolution is Google itself. Just last year, the web search giant introduced new search algorithms (nicknamed Penguin and Panda).
These came as a shock to webmasters who, for the first time in several years, faced a huge drop in their traffic. All those hours of acquiring backlinks and tweaking articles to reach a certain keyword density have gone to waste.
SEO isn’t just about keywords and links. It’s about connecting searchers with relevant content, the kind they’ll actually respond to and share with others.
Immature SEO: Treating Searchers as Complete Strangers
Bad SEO practices rest on the premise that any traffic is good enough to sustain a business. In the past, link building and keyword stuffing just for the sake of connecting keywords to websites work but often at the expense of searchers. Webmasters only care about landing on Google’s first page, not about what searchers are looking for.
Any kind of traffic, it turned out, is not good enough. You can’t convert complete strangers who don’t care about your product or service, no matter how targeted your keywords are.
Start with treating searchers as potential customers and brand loyalists. Doing so will minimize the gap between a searcher’s intent and your site’s content. It will also maximize the benefits you get from SEO, even foundational strategies that seem too basic can boost your marketing efforts.
Here are some obsolete SEO practices to avoid if you’re working on long-term goals:
- acquiring unnatural links both from high-quality and low-quality websites
- duplicate or spun content
- keyword stuffing and awkward-sounding keywords
Ready to upgrade your SEO? Learn from your mistakes and read on to know more about the changing face of SEO.
Mature SEO: A Multi-faceted Marketing Discipline
It doesn’t matter if you fell for sleazy SEO tricks that sound more like shortcuts than genuine strategies. You still can tweak or tailor your approach around the industry’s best practices. Here are three winning SEO principles we’ve culled from web experts.
1. Focus on users, not the search engine.
Mature SEO consider searchers as potential friends who search for something and not total strangers who happen to surf the web aimlessly. A user-centric SEO strategy plans for content that’s relevant, useful and engaging. It’s a long-term strategy designed to attract repeatable quality leads.
Putting users first is hard work. Researching how target consumers behave and make purchasing decisions alone takes a great deal of effort. But it’s much more effective than “guestimating” what keywords searchers will likely use.
2. Consider the big picture of SEO.
SEO started with links. The future of SEO promises more than links. Google has already sent a strong message related to this when it launched Google Plus for individuals and, quite recently, for businesses. By integrating social signals such as +1′s and shares, Google wants to place content within a specific user’s social context.
Bing does the same when it included Facebook signals in its own search results. And speaking of Facebook, the social network’s recently launched “Facebook Graph Search” is a game-changer when it comes to local search. If you own a local shop or a small business, doing SEO will never be complete if you don’t optimize content for Facebook.
Go beyond links and keywords. Rethink your SEO plan if you want to compete long-term. Watch out for other players in the industry. Consider recent changes implemented by Bing and Facebook. More importantly, consider how personalized search, social media and search segmentation affect your SEO practice.
3. Listen to SEO metrics that truly matter.
Is PageRank the only metrics that matter? No. What matters most to SEOs are usually hidden in plain sight. First, there’s the number of unique pages the search engine crawls. Second, there’s the number of 500 server errors and 404s. Third, there are on-page factors such as the number of qualified leads and conversion rates and real click-through rates.
How would you know if your tracking and measuring the right metrics? Start by clarifying your business goals. Attracting more traffic isn’t really a valid business goal. Increasing brand awareness and conversation rate are. Then move on to picking the metrics that measure those.
Mature SEO strategies that put users first are meant for the long run. They’re not heavily dependent on algorithmic changes. That’s because search companies such as Google have long advocated for high-quality and relevant content that will better serve users.
If you’ve been hit by recent Google algorithm changes, it’s not too late to overhaul your SEO plan. You can start anew by removing all unnatural links and spammy links connected to your website. And then submit a reconsideration request to Google.
If you’ve only just begun, don’t waste your efforts on short-term gains. Think long-term SEO goals while having in mind the principles we’ve outlined above. When in doubt, ask yourself if what you’re doing will benefit your target audience or if it’s going to make the web a friendlier place for content consumers.