If you’re a seasoned SEO practitioner, move on. You are already well aware of the dubious nature of the tactics below (and if you’re not, well then, you might want to reconsider your day job.) But, if you are a marketing manager, business owner or anyone else who relies heavily on others for SEO advice, please make this post a MUST-read before preparing future SEO strategies.
As SEO awareness has grown over the years, more companies from all walks of industry have striven to address it in some capacity in their marketing programs. Unfortunately, they sometimes turn to strategies that are outdated and/or do more harm than good. These are some common “strategies” we’ve seen from clients and around the web that your company should avoid:
Content spinning — “Content is king” has been a rallying cry in the SEO world for years, but the phrase should be revised to “original content is king.” Content or article spinning involves taking an article about a topic related to your business, creating multiple, slightly different versions of that article, then distributing them across the web. This was a popular technique for fledgling SEO programs years ago. But as data shows, such shady strategies aren’t effective for very long. Google and other search engines have consistently gotten better and better and recognizing and penalizing spun content. It may take more time and effort, but the payoff is much better when you write original content that is posted to relevant websites. This is important to remember when starting a link building program.
Commenting on blogs — Everyday, millions of bots spam the comment section of blogs across the web. Most blog platforms enable “no follow” links in the comment section by default. So, not only are such spam posts quickly deleted/filtered by site moderators, but they’re not even effective while visible. It’s possible for blog commenting to be an effective form of marketing, but the process is beyond the scope of any spam bot. Write a thoughtful, in-depth response to a blog that includes a relevant link to your site. By doing so, you establish credibility and interest for other readers, who are then more likely to click on your link.
Outsourcing your SEO to the wrong talent — SEO is a complex field with lots of variables that contribute to success. If you decide to outsource your SEO, make sure to vet your vendor carefully. Talk about the goals you have for your website, ask about the kind of campaign you could run to achieve those goals, and of course, check the vendor’s previous experience and clientele.
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.