Thursday, June 13, 2013
What no longer works
The place I like to start when it comes to optimization is with traditional methods of optimization. In the past you could hire a company based in India and pay them pennies on the dollar to build thousands of links into your website from a variety of sources. Whether you successfully optimized your website from an on-page perspective first or not didn’t really matter. All you needed was a series of inbound links including your target keyword phrase and you’d find success.
Then things slowly began to change. Google made a couple of updates and suddenly stuffing your inbound links with nothing but keywords became less effective. After the initial Penguin update, incoming links from many sites became much less valuable and recently became a way to penalize websites for gaming the system.
Where that leaves us today is with a list of techniques that once were highly effective now proving to be highly damaging to new and well established websites. It would have been enough if Google simply discredited negative listings but now, unfortunately, they took things a step further and have begun to penalize sites for trying to arbitrarily building links.
What’s working now
The next question you are likely asking yourself is if all of those old optimization strategies don’t work, what’s working now. And the answer is not necessarily black and white. In fact the newest strategies combine some old methods with new ones. As an example, instead of starting from scratch, you need to leverage existing web pages found on other domains for branded search. When users search for the company being referred to, the page renders in search results. Because the content of this page is positive, it makes sense for the business to link to it from their site and promote via their social media accounts.
Another example is leveraging your own social media and digital assets that reside on authoritative websites. It will also show in branded search results and the content can be manipulated by the company it serves.
This is also true of sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. Your initial goal should always be to first identify the sites and digital assets that can be promoted but don’t necessarily reside on your domain.
Promoting your own web property
Okay, you’re probably saying, “This is great but I want my website to rank for a select number of keywords.” Improving the ranking of your site is possible considering newer methods of optimization. The best place to start is with your own website. Is it fully optimized? Are there any technical errors? Duplicate content? Easy navigation? Original content?
It used to be that you could create a website and let it be. Most optimization work was done off site and Google didn’t give much weight to website updates. Well, today, that just isn’t the case. Making regular website updates is essential to search engine optimization success. And updates need to come in the form of regular, original, shareable content.
Natural link creation
This has all been the result of Google’s goal of making organic search more natural and truly organic. Think about it this way. If you have valuable content on your site, other people are going to link to it, talk about it, and share it with their networks. Thanks to social media this is easier than ever. The best way to being tapping into this source of optimization is a comprehensive content development strategy.
Once content is developed, consider how best to share and promote that content. As always, slow and steady wins the race. Don’t expect to generate great content, build a massive list of followers, and see your rankings skyrocket. To Google that would look suspicious and to you it should seem unrealistic. Impacting search engine results is a marathon that begins on solid content principles.
Search engine optimization if dependent more on social media, content sharing, and a diversity of digital assets than ever before. Start with content development and move towards natural link building (this may include social channels, blogging, press releases, etc.) that makes sense in the eyes of Google. Over time you’ll see results.