There is so much information available regarding the practice of SEO that it can be difficult to sort out what works and what doesn’t. Google has been punishing websites trying to manipulate their organic ranking ever since the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates have been rolled out, rendering many once-successful SEO techniques useless and oftentimes harmful. But we can’t deny the fact that many of us want to get ranked at the top of search engine result pages.
Brands need to understand that doing smart SEO is the only option they have for ranking higher in SERPs. Outlined below are 4 SEO strategies you should reconsider to boost your website’s ranking and outshine your competitors
1. Focus on Link Quality, Not Quantity
Long believed to be an essential part of the SEO process, link building is one of the trickiest optimization techniques to use in 2015. While Google does count backlinks as a ranking factor, there are 200 other elements that largely impact how your website ranks in SERPs. Aggressive and unethical link building practices are subject to Google penalties, and websites employing them are at high risk of getting penalized, whether in the form of a drop in ranking or complete de-indexation. A decade ago, link quantity could help websites rank higher in search engines, but as Google’s ranking algorithm became more sophisticated, quality was given more weight. Here is a short list of websites that have been banned due to using black hat link building strategies according to SearchMetrics (reference: http://blog.searchmetrics.com/us/2013/05/23/google-penguin-update-2-0-loser-analysis/):
Keys to building a good link profile for your website:
• Focus on writing and publishing high-quality content. By providing informative articles, other websites will be more likely to link back to you or cite you as an authoritative and trustworthy industry leader, thus helping you gradually make your way to the top of SERPs.
• Avoid link exchange. Google’s ranking algorithm has grown to identify exchanged links, meaning you can get penalized if you employ this tactic.
• Do not buy links, whether in the form of banners or advertorials.
• Do not use article submission directories to get more links.
• Avoid linking to websites with a bad reputation or a history of Google penalties.
2. Avoid Keyword-Stuffing Your Content
Ranking high in search engines is no longer about repeating the same keywords over and over again in your content. Yet many website owners attempt to outshine competitors by employing this black hat SEO practice, not caring about the quality of their content or about whether their audience is satisfied. From a readability standpoint, keyword stuffing can make your content difficult to read, leading users to looking for information elsewhere.
An example of keyword-stuffed content is:
Keys to making your keyword optimization strategy efficient and productive:
• Use your main keyword two or three times throughout your content.
• Make use of synonyms – e.g. “unpaid rankings” instead of “organic rankings.”
• Write quality content to naturally capture long-tail traffic.
• Do not optimize your content for keywords with high competition. Repeating “web design company Arizona” a dozen times throughout your articles will not help you outshine companies that also rank for the same keyword, and that might have been doing SEO for a while now. Instead, research keywords with low competition and mention them two or three times in your articles.
3. Write and Publish Quality Content
Google is on a major and uncompromising mission: to provide users with relevant, high-quality information for their needs. According to Joseph Cruz of Search Engine Journal, “Another big misconception back in the old days was that producing content daily would be enough to rank.” Article spinning is a quick and inexpensive method to reproduce content, and they can be used for generating dozens of articles in just a couple of minutes.
Here is a good example of article spinning:
Keys to writing compelling content for your website:
• Identify your audience and find out who you should be targeting. You want your content to be read by individuals who may have an interest in your services and products.
• Research the topic. In addition to creating unique content, you must also keep an eye on information accuracy. Delivering quality content to your audience can help increase ROI, not to mention that Google will rank you higher as well.
• Make your content scannable and readable by including headings, subheadings, bulleted and numbered lists. Using the “one line, one paragraph” can improve readability and make your content flow better.
• Proofread and edit ruthlessly to locate potential grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors.
4. Do Not Use Internal Cross Links Too Much
A good way to pass link juice from a page to another is using internal cross links. But most websites make abuse of this technique in an attempt to increase organic rankings, a practice that Google oftentimes sees as manipulative. If links are commercial, irrelevant or completely off-topic, the performance of your website may be greatly affected, resulting in decreasing credibility and search performance. For this strategy to work, you need to use internal cross links smartly.
An example of good and bad internal cross link use would be:
Keys to using internal cross links correctly to avoid Google taking issue with your website:
• Do not use keyword-rich anchor texts for the links – e.g. “web design company Sydney.” A longer, more specific phrase “best tips for hiring a good web design agency in Sydney” are your best bet.
• Do not link to irrelevant pages. The information on the page that you are linking to should provide value to the reader in order to improve user experience.
• Avoid having too many internal cross links. While they may be helpful to some extent, you stand a good chance at making navigation difficult and inconsistent.
• Do not put dofollow links in locations that do not generate traffic, otherwise Google may treat them negatively.
If you are not an experienced webmaster and you don’t know much about good optimization practices, consider hiring a professional SEO specialist in your area. Although you will likely be paying hefty fees to have your website optimized, the return on investment will be substantial. What’s more, these companies understand each and every element Google factors in when ranking your website, meaning they will implement effective SEO campaigns that will ultimately help your website rank higher.