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2012 has passed, and with that the 15th year of Google’s existence in the world has come. It’s been an interesting journey for SEO experts and companies trying to rank high in the search results. Google kept throwing curve balls at them every now and then, and many of those who thought that could outsmart the major search engine failed. The past two years have been especially turbulent, with the Panda and Penguin updates (and several smaller tweaks) that lowered rankings for many websites that were doing well for years before that.
Thinking about the changes Google has made to it’s algorithm two things are almost certain: we can not predict Google’s next move and Google won’t stop changing.
It appears to me we have a simple “good news-bad news” situation, and it is about time someone said the bad one out loud. We can NOT predict Google’s next move, so we may as well stop obsessing about it. It is going to be a disaster if a sudden change places your site 50 results lower, but there is nothing to do about it.
This leaves the second statement with the title of good news. It is now the typical good news, I know, but it’s not bad news either. This just means that if a website gets quality links from various sources, has content that geographically dispersed visitors love and performs well in search results today, won’t be hurt as much as other websites even if the biggest algorithm change so far happens today.
Lets try to do some “risk management” and minimize the risk your website is exposed to if a sudden change appears. We came up with these results:
No. 1: Anchor text diversity. Many SEO experts have talked about anchor text in the past few years. Some of them (read SeoMoz) went as far as to predict that anchor text will dispersal in the future. With our risk management idea in mind, it would be a good idea to use different anchor text for different links. As search engines are looking for more diversity, it is safe to assume that the same anchor text used for thousands of links will be considered spam.
No. 2: Integrate SEO efforts. Many wise people have been writing about what is the most important element in an SEO strategy. The trick is, if you want to minimize risk for your website you are going to have to assume that they are all wrong. Integrating all your SEO efforts is the only way to play it safe in this turbulent environment. Separate your SEO tasks, and dedicate time to them accordingly. What ever you do, don’t listen to advises who claim that video or let’s say, link building is the only SEO task worth doing (wink).
No. 3: Spread your links sources. Here is a little rule of thumb SEO experts should go by: everything is spam if you do it too much. If a real person can figure out your link building strategy in 15 minutes, how long do you think it takes for Google to see what you are up to? Directories listing and guest blogging are not the only ways of link building. Think outside the box, and think customer. That is how you’ll stay on top.
If you are a website owner, or content manager, it is probably safe to assume you want to rank as high as you can in the search results. Also, it is probably a safe bet to state that you want to provide a high degree of usability and a positive user experience to your visitors. The good news is search engines want the same thing too! Looking from a different perspective they want the person who is using the search engine to find the most relevant, user friendly website there is, so you have to please the search engines if you want to please the customer. Let’s see some concrete “SEO genres”where usability and user experience can help your site rank better.
and with that, nobody will link to it. This is probably the biggest impact usability has on your search engine rankings. Let’s say you are a blogger with a dilemma of linking between a site that has a very cool design and another one that doesn’t. It’s an easy choice isn’t it? Usability WILL help you get more “do-follow” links and rank better in the search results.
SEO has always been about finding quality, relevant web content that will satisfy the end-user’s needs. This is an on-going SEO effort that should not be neglected. Even if by some miracle you start ranking well without quality and unique content search engines will pick up on this. They tend to measure how engaging the content of the site really is by measuring how long the user stays on the site. If a user clicks on your website in the search results page, than immediately closes it, or hits the back button, this is an indication that he is not satisfied with the content on the page.
Google has come a long way since the beginning, when they manually reviewed their search results for relevancy. Ever since the Panda update was introduced in 2011, the SEO scenery has changed. Now Google uses a machine learning language that filters what humans would see as a quality result, and what they won’t. This is definitely a horror movie for SEO experts, where Google is playing Jigsaw saying “I want to play a game, SEO experts”.
As we said in the beginning, search engines want to provide the best experience they can for their users. Here is when the comedy part comes in place: your well served customers will do your SEO! In the beginning, search engines must “guess” how user friendly and content-rich your website is, but in the end as they examine user behavioral patterns they will favor the websites that solve client’s needs. We know it’s easier said than done, but if your customers are satisfied, you can start worrying less about SEO.
Sooner or later everyone involved in SEO has to face the inevitable fact: the concept of SEO is not that new anymore. The uncertainty that the Panda and Penguin Google update has brought SEO in the modern era, and left many SEO experts wondering what direction they need to take in order to improve their website performance…
What these changes mean for SEO experts is believe it or not, ranking is the most important thing in SEO anymore. Even though ranking well for a specific keyword used to have a lot of value by itself, there are some changes in people’s behavior that are pretty obvious. People close their browsers if they don’t find what they are looking for more easily today. Even when they do give your website a chance, you have very little time to impress them. Very often web sites that are ranked #2 or #3 get better click through rates than websites ranked #1, because users find them more interesting. What are the changes that SEO experienced these days? Should you abandon the old classic rules of SEO, to try to rank better in the new era? Let’s take a look at some of the classic principles of SEO and see how they compare with the modern age SEO recommendations.
There are some SEO principles that can be “carved in stone”. These are the classic SEO principles that include:
As SEO is evolving it makes SEO experts work hadrer. They need to take their strategy to a whole new level. It is not just about relevant keywords anymore. I read a book a while ago, that explained the keywords in meta tags SEO concept very explicitly. It said “putting keywords on a website that doesn’t have good content is like putting lipstick on a pig – it will not make it more kissable”. This is probably the closest “definition: that explains the SEO principles shift that happens nowadays. Let’s check out a few tricks that go a long way when conceptualizing SEO strategies:
The name of your website is something your visitors take very, very seriously. If your visitors get familiar with your web site’s name the click-through rate will increase dramatically. So, if you are not doing it right now, you might want to consider developing a brand strategy for your webpage/product, but also for yourself as an author. (Read more about verifying authorship).
The objective of SEO experts today is anticipating what the clients search for. The website should deliver the content the client search for as a whole, rather than just trying to “trick” people by optimizing keywords, so they think they’ve found something they were searching for, when in fact, they haven’t.
This basically means do whatever is in your power to make the job easier for the search engines. Optimizing your sitemaps, as well as xml video sitemaps for your video content on your website is a must nowadays.
We have already talked about the short attention span of today’s powered user. They will not be on your page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. So, you need to do your job in your field as well. Find the best hosting provider for the platform you are using for your website. Also, find plugins for optimizing the content on your website. If you are using CMS’s like wordpress, jooma or drupal there are plugins that can do wonders for your website.
Optimally, every webpage today has to be socially share able. This means great articles that can easily be shared on Facebook and Twitter, great images for Pinterest etc. SEO experts didn’t have that problem in the past. But nowadays it is all about social collaboration. Make sure you put sharing buttons on every page that has relevant content on your website.
As a conclusion I decided to quote Rand Fishkin at SeoMoz, as he probably said it best: It is not just about ranking anymore, it is about performing!