Search Engine Tips & Tactics That Have Gone from Wins to Fails
Back when there were few players in the game, search engine optimization was fairly simple. But with the exponential growth of users and abusers, some of the old techniques don’t work so well anymore. Even worse, a few are now actually penalized by Google. Here are the biggest offenders:
Write keyword heavy content.
You’re probably aware by now that Google penalizes the practice of cramming as many keywords into a website’s text and meta descriptions as possible (“keyword stuffing”), and has done so for the past five-plus years. What you may not know is that it’s not necessary to force exact match keyword phrases into your text at all.
Google’s latent semantic indexing will identify the most common words and phrases of the entire page, no matter what order they appear in, as well as synonyms and related terms. This leaves you free to write quality content that not only brings in the traffic, it converts them to customers.
Don’t bother with SEO content.
Some people have taken the above statement to mean that you don’t have to optimize your content, period. You still need the search engines to find it, though. Make it easy for them to do that with effective page URLs, meta data and site architecture as well as well researched, judiciously deployed keywords.
Don’t bother with images.
This idea came into being because search engines can’t actually see images. But they can see the image’s file name, title, caption, alt text and description. If these are well done with relevant keywords, they can have a significant impact on your website’s optimization.
We’re not saying you should just throw any old stock photo or video onto your website. The importance of visual content to your overall branding and marketing strategy can’t be overestimated. Choose unique, powerful images that help sell your business and have a better chance of being seen.
Add more pages to increase traffic.
Unless those additional pages have great content, they won’t help you at all. Again, Google rankings now depend on the quality, not quantity, of the user experience. The Panda algorithm update of 2011 was the death knell of the junk site whose only reason for existence was to display PPC ads. In fact, multiple pages with duplicate, little or no content may even bring a Google penalty down on your head.
Add more links to improve ranking.
It’s true that a substantial amount of inbound and outbound links will help your SEO ranking; it’s still one of the top five most important ranking factors. But this has led to numerous abuses, such as buying/selling links, links hidden in widgets, bait and switch links, and more.
In 2013 with the Penguin 2.0 algorithm, Google began clamping down on those abuses by examining the quality of the link and the domain it was obtained from. So now your best strategy is to earn links the old-fashioned way, by offering webmasters, bloggers, editors and publishers a genuine reason to add a link back to your website. That means making substantive comments, guest blogs and similar means of developing a real relationship.
Ignore social media.
There’s a lot of argument about whether social media popularity affects search engine rankings. But we don’t think it’s a coincidence that the websites with the best rankings are also the ones that have a big social media following. These days, not even B2B companies can succeed by focusing solely on their own website’s SEO content, architecture and coding.
And remember, the goal of SEO is to drive traffic to your website. Social media can achieve that same goal by putting your business in front of more eyeballs and producing more backlinks. Why waste this opportunity?
Ignore mobile optimization.
If your website can’t be easily loaded and viewed on mobile device screens, you’re losing out on the majority of your potential customers. The statistics tell the tale:
• More Google searches are performed on mobile phones than desktop computers.
• Mobile represents 65% of digital media time.
• Mobile users are nearly twice as likely as desktop users to share content
Indeed, some marketing experts are saying that desktop computers should now be considered the secondary device. We think the handwriting went on the wall with Google’s introduction of Accelerated Mobile Pages. Although Google still calculates rankings according to desktop searches, we believe the inclusion of mobile page versions in organic search results is not too far in the future.
Ignore local SEO.
You may think that because you don’t have a brick-and-mortar location, you won’t benefit from local SEO strategy. But if you have customers or prospects in that city, you should make yourself visible to local searches.
Some steps that you can take to improve local SEO are:
• Create a landing page for local searches
• Add location keywords within your website
• Get a local listing on Google Business
• Publish locally oriented blog posts
• Ask for inbound links from local businesses
Higher rank equals higher traffic.
It’s all too easy to focus on where your website is placed in search results pages. After all, the reason you’re doing SEO in the first place is to increase your visibility to potential customers. But just because more people see your listing, doesn’t mean you will get more click-throughs. And of the people who do click through, how many of them are truly qualified sales leads?
Google constantly harps on the theme of quality over quantity, and it applies here, too. Make sure you don’t get people clicking through in response to irrelevant keywords. Also check your meta descriptions: are they interesting and enticing, or just boring lists of keywords? The first check keeps timewasters out, the second encourages legitimate prospects to come in. All in all, focusing on your visitor experience, rather than search engine ranking, will deliver a better return on your investment.