Search engines and SEO as a profession have come of age. Since the days of spammy content, keyword stuffing, unnatural links and other black-hat techniques, search engine optimization has evolved tremendously.
In this time and era, you ought to be very careful when optimizing any site for search engines because if you step too far outside the lines, you will lose your SEO rankings at the drop of a hat.
The guys over at Google mean business, and that's exactly why they release algorithm updates one after another in a bid to build a user-friendly web for everybody.
There are, however, SEO techniques and trends you can use and follow to build a formidable ranking profile that will withstand the winds of the next algorithm update. We have gathered a couple and put them in this list so you may achieve that elusive number one position we all dream of.
By the way, once you get to the end, leave us a comment letting us know if the post was useful. Alright, that's that. Now let's take it there.
Search Engines are Smarter
Particularly Google, which can now listen and understand user context and intent. It means you can feed the search engine a question and it will understand the context of the question, not each keyword individually.
Google has grown anticipatory and even without trying hard on your part, it gives you “…proactive, geo-fenced answers that…pop up before you even frame the question.”
This is both good and bad for search engine optimization. Firstly, the few guys who give the rest of the SEO industry a bad rep by using black-hat tricks will soon be phased out. SEO “experts” who believe SEO is all about keyword tactics, link building and HTML will go the way of the dinosaur.
A smarter Google is a machine like no other – a machine that will be extremely hard to game. Tricks intended to game Google will only land you and your business in hot soup.
At the same time, optimizing for contextual search in no easy task. Google easily delivers contextual searches since they can track your browsing data using crawlers, but you will have a difficult time optimizing contextually for target customers on the other side of the globe.
Unless, of course, you have a clear picture of your target audience to a point where you can predict the customer's context and intent when searching for your offer.
Without a doubt, now is the time to embrace natural language when creating SEO content. This will allow you to take advantage of the Google Hummingbird algorithm update instead of fighting it.
Search engines are rapidly developing the intelligence to discern between websites that provide value from sites that create the illusion of value. – James McDonald, Lyons Consulting Group
The only way to provide value hence dominate search rankings is creating consistent, engaging, high-quality and relevant content that speaks to your target audience.
A Strong Social Presence is Crucial
In an online world characterized by a million and one social networks, you cannot ignore the place of SMO (Social Media Optimization) in driving traffic to your site.
If you create the kind of content we just mentioned, your supporters and target audience on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and the rest will pick it up and share with friends. In the process, you gain brand awareness and web traffic.
All of this will happen instantaneously – or long before search engines index the content already doing rounds on social media. That's not the end of it. Google loves content with plenty of likes, shares, retweets, +1's and so forth.
Hypothetically, if your content is shared by half of Facebook, you will have a pretty decent position in search results. You will probably live at top ten for your primary keywords. On top of that, Google+ back links, re-shares and +1's are great ranking factors, Matt Cutts said so himself.
According to an infographic by SEO Peace, “Social media helps spread good websites and content among friends and networks allowing huge opportunities to attract natural links, without even asking directly.” Just don't forget to include your targeted keywords and brand name in your social media updates. But don't stop there, go a step further and link back to your website where possible.
Don't wait a day more, start exposing your target audience to search and social media influenced by your brand and watch as your CTR go up by 94%!
SEO and Content Marketing Go Hand in Hand
Content marketing is the best tool any SEO worth their salt could have. As a matter of fact, content marketing and SEO are becoming synonymous, even though traditional SEO will always have a place.
This is what quality SEO has always been about. [Content marketing] only seems like a growing [trend] to people who were perhaps using spammy tactics that Google has since made more difficult. – Brian Wood, Wayfair.com
To dominate search rankings today and in the future, you must consistently publish detailed, engaging and relevant content. Must I add your content must be entertaining and valuable to be share-worthy?
Content marketing is the future of SEO. It's so far the best “form” of SEO – “…the new way to optimize and drive traffic,” according to Adam Barker of SmartBear Software.
We cannot discredit the value of keyword research and on-page optimization for content marketing still needs these processes to be effective. Build a blog for your brand and start posting high-quality content that's useful and relevant to your target audience.
A great blog will improve your search rankings, drive a lot of traffic to your site and make you an authority in your niche. Content is, after all, still king.
Nowadays, almost everywhere you look, you'll spot someone tapping away on their smartphone. Some people are so ever-engrossed in whatever is happening on the tiny screens they walk straight into traffic.
People are going mobile and fast. In other words, an ever-growing populace is searching and buying products right on their mobile phones. This can only mean great news for your mobile marketing strategy.
But here is a damper first.
Since Google Hummingbird, if your website is not mobile friendly, you're going to have hard time ranking well. In the near future, You. Will. Be. De-ranked! The good news is with a mobile friendly site, you can tap into the mobile market and reap great returns.
The better news is Ethan Marcotte brought us responsive web design, which allows developers to build websites that adapt to the screen size of any device under the sun. So you don't have to create and optimize a separate mobile site.
In the coming few weeks, Google will start highlighting sites optimized for mobile devices in their search results. So yeah, users will know if you care about them enough to provide a mobile-friendly site long before loading your homepage.
Use a responsive design including responsive images to create a full-filling mobile experience for your users or you'll continue missing out on mobile traffic.
Local SEO is Growing
Local SEO is a cost-effective and one of the easiest strategy of marketing and growing your business. In recent months, this trend has grown considerably as more businesses jump on the bandwagon. If you haven't taken advantage of local SEO, you're missing out on a lot of business.
But how do you do local SEO effectively? If you're familiar with organic or traditional SEO, local SEO shouldn't be a challenge. On the other hand, if you are just starting out, begin by claiming a Google Local profile for your business. This allows Google to display your business information in search results.
Secondly, get as many customer reviews as you possibly can. Just don't fake or pay for your reviews. Get more than ten reviews, and you'll earn a score of 0 – 30, which is displayed in your Google local listing.
Thirdly, and most importantly, optimize your content for local SEO by adding your city and state to your content. Add these details in moderation to your titles, headings, meta descriptions and content. Don't overdo it, or you'll be penalized for keyword stuffing.
According to Moz.com, “…growing the link profile of a website is critical to gaining traction, attention and traffic from the engines. As an SEO, link building is among the top tasks required for search ranking and traffic success.”
That's why you need to be careful when building links. The best way to grow a link profile is to create content so good it gathers natural links on autopilot. Just be vigilant since a single unnatural link can land you in trouble, and ruin years of SEO work.
When building links, stick to your niche, link only to high-quality websites and use normal anchor text. Yeah that's right, just the other day, Google penalized docsheldon.com for one unnatural link. One goddamn link! To learn more about link building, check out Growing Popularity and Links on Moz.com.
When this trend hit the market, it became popular fast. As it were, bloggers got spammy in no time so Google had to rein things in. Now, you ought to be extra careful with guest blogging as a SEO technique.
- If you're doing guest blogging for links only, Google is going to catch up with you in no time.
- If you go off-topic or use links with exact anchor links in your guest posts, Google will hang you out to dry and your business will suffer the brunt if it all.
Only accept guest posts from high quality authors, ensure you're linking to relevant sites within your niche and, this is important, use normal anchor text. Not a word more.
SEO is changing now more than ever. Techniques that worked in days gone are no longer as effective, meaning you need to stay on top of things at all times. That said, which SEO trends and techniques are you following? Did we leave anything out? Please let us know in the comment section below.
Featured Image Credit: SEO Link Building via Flickr