The SEO industry is big business. Every website owner knows that good search engine rankings is important if you want to succeed in the world of online business, but are traditional SEO practices the best choice? Google are always tweaking their ranking system, and the most recent changes mean that SEO heavy sites may actually suffer in the rankings.
Focus on Great Content
At this year’s SXSW, Matt Cutts gave a talk about how to rank well in search engines, and said that the search engine was planning to even the playing field for all webmasters, ensuring that the ones that focus on great content, rather than simply SEO, get the rankings that they deserve.
That’s not to say that SEO itself is a bad idea, but instead of focusing on traditional SEO methods such as keyword stuffing, auto-generated/spun pages, and pages made with search engines rather than visitors in mind, webmasters should focus on creating rich content. Search engines now have a complex and in-depth understanding of languages, and this means that good content can bubble to the top.
Imagine, for example, a site that talks about video games. There’s a good chance that site uses “Game”, “console”, “multiplayer”, “graphics”, and other terms, which the search engine will understand are related to each other. It may even have images which have “screenshot of…” in their ALT tag. These things all point towards good quality content. Google is more likely to rank such a site highly than one that is about an unrelated topic, but mentioned a game in passing – for example, a website about the WWE sports entertainment shows which mentioned “The new WWE game came out yesterday.”
Watch Your Incoming Links
Link building is a popular part of modern SEO, but the importance of a high quantity of incoming links is exaggerated. A few high quality, relevant incoming links with a range of different anchor texts is better than a large number of low quality, spammy links.
Google has recently started warning webmasters that it suspects they are using “black hat” link building strategies. Tactics such as using automated tools to generate new links, buying links for the purposes of earning page rank, and building fake profiles on web 2.0 sites for the purposes of generating a large number of incoming links, are all now coming under close scrutiny. Until recently, such links were simply silently distrusted. Now, Google is being more pro-active about alerting people to the fact that those links won’t help with page rank or indexing.
Organic is Still Best
Organic link building is best for effective SEO, is the best way to get a natural link profile. Ideally, in the long term you want a mix of links that use your company or domain name, your chosen keywords, and other random text such as product names, your location, etc.
Before you rush off on a link building campaign, consider what your competitors are doing. Tools such as Open Site Explorer can help you to see what other companies in your industry are doing. If few other people are building a huge number of links and working on an extensive SEO campaign, it may look odd if you do a huge marketing push. Try to develop links and SEO slowly and naturally, for best results.