As the saying goes, “good things come to those who wait.” In certain aspects of quality SEO programs, there’s a lot of truth to that statement. Time and time again, we explain to clients that results from an SEO program are not quantifiable overnight. SEO efforts are most effective when they follow a natural philosophy.
“Natural” here refers to the actions your SEO strategy takes in light of guidelines set by search engines. All over the Internet, there are SEO blogs showcasing the latest and greatest aggressive SEO strategies. These are usually tweaks and implementations that are not out-rightly against guidelines. Essentially, an aggressive strategy searches for ways to bend the system to gain an advantage. Aggressive strategies aren’t necessary for SEO success, but they may get results faster.
An advantage that doesn’t actually break any rules sounds great! But, the advantage tends to fall apart over the long-term — resulting in wasted effort. In fact, many of the strategies that are now banned by current search engine guidelines were aggressive strategies that gained widespread use, to the detriment of users.
Take blog networks as an example. Until last year, it was ordinary for websites to join up with a blog network for quick promotion and increased rankings. It was similar to a link farm, but it wasn’t expressly forbidden. In March 2012, Google finally took action and de-indexed hundreds of blog networking web pages. The aggressive strategy of signing up with blog networks and catering to their requirements garnered good results for a while. But, any sites that worked with blog networks essentially had all of that time and effort thrown out the window once Google adjusted its guidelines. Had these sites promoted their blogs via natural linking efforts, they wouldn’t have suffered such a penalization.
That’s just one of many examples of a successful “aggressive” strategy completely backfiring. In a future post, we’ll go over why “natural” style strategies are more effective in the long run.
Across the Internet marketing landscape, you’ve probably seen other blog posts with titles along the lines of “Content Marketing vs. SEO.” At some point (perhaps after some algorithm updates), people made SEO into some bugaboo — when it’s actually a potent ally to content marketers everywhere.
Thinking of SEO as a bad thing is a common misconception, likely brought on by high-profile examples of black-hat SEO. As with any industry, there are ethical and unethical ways to conduct business. While SEO has its fair share of shady characters, it’s far from an inherently underhanded business.
Following that portrayal of SEO, marketers sing the praises of content marketing — us included. Well-written content is an excellent basis for building links to your website and establishing your company as a thought leader in your respective industry. However, if no one can find your great content, it’s not really doing you any good. That’s where SEO comes in.
The purpose of SEO is to take your content and present it within a framework that makes it accessible to search engines and users alike. By using white-hat SEO services, it’s possible to get great, long term success from your content marketing efforts. To be successful in Internet marketing, you can’t have one without the other.
Of course, we can not forget to mention that SEO goes beyond content marketing to address important technical issues, such as Google+ authorship or tag markup, metadata optimization, schema.org implementation, XML sitemaps, and much more.
While content marketing is heralded as the end-all-be-all of Internet marketing, the reality is that it’s only a part of the equation. To be the most effective, content marketing needs SEO to be polished, popular, and profitable. That’s an important concept to remember when designing your future marketing campaigns.
The end of September and beginning of October 2012 have proved to be busy times for Google. The search giant rolled out several updates that jostled the rankings of many websites. SEOs have also been busy trying to sort out the updates and analyze their impact. Here’s our rundown of the most important updates in chronological order.
Panda Update: Google rolled out its Panda algorithm for the 20th time during Sept. 27-30. Ordinarily, Google runs Panda about once per month to filter through search results and penalize sites with low-quality content. But, Panda’s algorithm was upgraded for this 20th run, which had a dramatic impact on search results. The last several Panda updates only affected about 1% or less of search queries — while this new Panda update affected 2.4% of English queries.
EMD Update: The Exact Match Domain (EMD) update was a brand new algorithm that Google pushed on Sept. 28, which affected about 0.6% of English searches. This update specifically targeted websites that had high rankings by virtue of their domain name being an exact match for search queries. However, this doesn’t mean that all EMDs will rank poorly. Google’s real goal with this update is to penalize low-quality websites that are only riding high because of their domain names. Having an EMD is fine, so long as website is a source of good content. These high-quality websites still have high rankings after the EMD update:
In a way, the EMD update is very similar to Panda — maintaining high-quality content on your website will keep you from being penalized. Google will roll out the EMD update again in the future (possibly every month, like Panda), but exact dates are not known.
Penguin Update: On Oct. 5, Google ran its Penguin update for the third time since it debuted in April. This had a small impact on search results, affecting only about 0.3% of English queries.
Top Heavy Update: Officially known as the page layout algorithm, the Top Heavy update rolled out for its second time on Oct. 9. This also turned out to be a relatively small update, affecting only about 0.7% of English searches.
Since all of these algorithms are being run periodically, it’s important to keep them in mind when modifying the content of your website. To check if any of these algorithms have impacted your site rankings, cross-reference your Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools data with the release date of each algorithm to see if there’s a correlation.
At the end of the day, the rules for SEO really aren’t any different. All of updates are taking aim at weak content and poor user experience. If you continue to create original content; follow best practices; and maintain your site with users first in mind, search engines second, then the quality of your site will be rewarded in search rankings.