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The Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) are getting crowded. Thanks to product listing ads, videos, images, and social media results crowding out the traditional organic results, it’s more important than ever to help your pages stand out from the crowd.
Enter Rich Snippets.
Rich Snippets are the result of properly implemented structured data markup. By marking up your page data, you show the search engines – and enable them to show users – some of the most important information on your pages. For a product, this could be customer ratings and reviews, the price and/or available sizes. For a recipe, you might include reviews, cook time or even calories per serving.
In a previous blog post, we discussed the disadvantages that come with certain “aggressive” SEO strategies. Aggressive strategies try to find ways around search engine algorithms and guidelines to gain an advantage. This results in shortcuts that deliver quick results yet aren’t actually against the rules. As we showed, those types of strategies are usually a poor idea in the long run because they become ineffective once search engine algorithms and guidelines update — resulting in wasted efforts. Therefore, a natural approach to SEO and search engine guidelines is the path to long-term success.
An easy way to tell if you’re on the right track is to ask yourself how much action you’d need to take if Google or Bing announced a new algorithm update. If you’ve done lots of natural link building through a variety of websites, consistently updated your website with useful content, maintained a clean sitemap and URL structure, and basically did all of the hard work of keeping your website running like a well oiled machine, you’re probably not worried about Google tweaking some ranking signals. However, if you’ve spent the past year looking for quick-fixes, trying to build PageRank as fast as possible, or putting all of your eggs in one basket with the SEO strategy that seemed to deliver the fastest results, you might be more nervous — and understandably so.
To implement a natural SEO strategy, you need to stick to the basics and do them extremely well. If all of your strengths lie in things that search engine guidelines will never outlaw — like creating original content and improving your website’s user experience — then your site has a much stronger chance of building rank over time no matter what sorts of algorithm or guideline updates there are.
In an overly-aggressive approach, you can’t focus on the long term because you’re always using resources to learn new strategies when the old ones are no longer effective. By avoiding exploits and shortcuts, a natural approach streamlines efforts and helps you build strength in the areas that matter. Remember that when deciding to implement new SEO strategies.
This week Google announced that changes to their algorithm were coming soon in the form of further Penguin and Panda “adjustments.” But if you’re creating good content — onsite and offsite — you have nothing to worry about. That’s because these adjustments are all about devaluing sites that use artificial means in order to rank well in the search engine results.
When we say “artificial,” we mean poor-quality content created in order to manipulate search engines. This is done mainly by keyword stuffing — onsite and off — and using unnatural language in order to rank for a particular keyphrase.
Remember that Google’s primary goal (as far as search is concerned) is to deliver the best possible user experience. To achieve that, they want to rank content that also delivers the best possible user experience. Content that is thin, overly simplified, or that uses unnatural language in order to achieve rankings, is out. Content that is original, helpful, and written for humans is in.
The best thing that you can do for your site — beyond creating excellent, search engine optimized, content — is to make sure that you don’t appear as a spammer to the search engine bots. Because Google is changing the definition of “spammer” all the time, there is a certain art to this.
We will still — and probably, always — have to target keywords. And that’s a good thing. Keywords and phrases help guide content creators to the best possible ways to reach their audience. If you didn’t do keyword research, you might never know that potential customers are searching for a particular product, a particular way.
It’s what we do with those keywords that’s important.
As of now, overusing the same phrase — without variations — is out. Using natural language is in. Go ahead and use your keyphrase in your title tags, description tags, and in your H1. From there, vary your language — sometimes using your target phase, sometimes using a variation. Write the way you wrote before you wrote for the internet, varying your language and using synonyms, with the primary goal of communicating an idea — not landing on page one.
Do this and you have a good chance of creating content that will survive any algorithm update.