The search engines are refining the ways that they rank website pages continually. The much-discussed Google Penguin and Panda updates put marketers, online business owners and most particularly shifty optimizers on notice.
The S-E-O game has changed forever.
And I type in it that way because the acronym has become a bit of a dirty word, and many experts and consultants are deleting the term entirely from their product offerings, and their website pages – instead opting for terms like ‘traffic generation’ or ‘lead generation’. The fear is that Google may turn its attention to businesses who are offering S-E-O services, and cast a very keen eye over them to identify over-promising and ‘black hat’ strategies they may employ to deliver seemingly impossible results.
Other search engines are catching on and are adapting algorithm changes that focus more on the quality unique written content, rather than the number of keywords in a piece of content, and the source of backlinks that are coming to a site.
Given this dynamic online environment, it’s little wonder that many marketers are yet to adapt to these changes (it pays to be vigilant – not thinking that what works today will work tomorrow). If you want to the search engines approval for your content, then you need to stop using the tactics of the past and take steps to fix or remove any that you have in place.
Mistake #1: Bad Content
Every inbound marketer will tell you just how important content is to be visible online, but that doesn’t mean that you should create content for its own sake. Gone are the days of using poorly written, keyword-focused, mindless drivel both on your websites and on low-value third party sites (as a means of attracting backlinks). In today’s world, if you want to rank highly, then you have to create content that matters. Google is all about delivering the most valuable and relevant results to searchers, so when you write and post content on your site, make sure that it’s:
Fail to do this and you risk having your entire site vanish from the SERPS (search engine results pages).
Mistake #2: Keyword Stuffing
Keywords, keyword stuffing and keyword density were still being used by S-E-O experts as little as two years ago (most, fortunately, have stopped). If you have a consultant who is still an evangelist for such tactics, then its time to re-evaluate your service provided. The recent Google updates were tailored to prevent this type of manipulation of the search engines, and practicing tactics like ‘stuffing’ can actually have your website completely ignored by the search engines.
So how can you rank well for your keywords? Google tells us that it not that difficult: be natural.
You want every page, every sentence, and every word to sound as natural as possible and to be as helpful as possible. Include other terms that relate to the topic – its ‘semantics’. Google has introduced semantic search that looks for words that ‘validate’ your keywords – semantics that it would expect to appear on material written about your topic.
Tip: Double check your navigation links and page title tags to make sure that there is no residual keyword stuffing there too, add redirects from those old links to your new ones so you don’t lose any traffic you are sending their way.
Mistake #3: Recklessly Purchasing Links
Not that long ago marketers could purchase links their posts and pages from automated systems, often resulting in a website getting a quick boost in the SERPs for their targeted terms. While this was effective for quite a while, Google eventually saw what was happening and took steps to redress the issues. It is now able to where your links are coming from, identify whether those sites have any real value, and is alert to incidences of unnatural linking.
Now you may be thinking to yourself, “But I never bought or sold links!”. The frightening thing is, even if you haven’t purchased links, it doesn’t follow that you don’t have some bad links coming to your site – in fact they can come from something as simple as allowing a comment on one of your posts.
Don’t automatically approve comments, examine carefully the url from which they come, and if using WordPress ensure that:
- you have activated your Akismet plugin. This will detect and hold most Spam comments and
- you have opted to hold all comments for approval before allowing them to be published.
Those websites that have retained their approval from Google, and are subtly improving their rankings are the ones whose owners are adding a regular supply of original content that is both well-written and relevant. If they acknowledge that creating that content on a regular basis will become a burden, then they outsource it – and include this as part of the online marketing plan, and their monthly expenses.
Just one article per week is enough to keep the search engines interested in your site (two is even better!), but there are other ways to leverage that content once its been created to get better, and Google-friendly, mileage from it. If you’d like to know more – drop me an email!