6 Ways to Future Proof Your SEO Strategy
:: By Travis Bliffen, Stellar SEO ::
If you have been working in or around SEO very long, you already know that even the best laid plans can get you into hot water. Article directories, SEO press releases, guest posting and thin content Web 2.0 sites are just a few examples of effective strategies zapped by Google.
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but if you are using SEO as a marketing strategy, you have to be prepared for the day that you lose organic rankings for a while why your strategy is revised and you work to please the almighty Google SEO Gods.
That being said, today we are going to look into the future and discuss a few ways to reduce the risk of your site and organic traffic be zapped by a mighty Google thunderbolt.
1. Anchor Text Usage
In the past you ranked for a keyword by getting as many exact match anchor texts as possible. This obviously looked unnatural and Google decided to punish sites with high percentages of exact match anchors. The current solution for this is that people have begun to use a combination of generic anchors such as website, click here and learn more. These terms are combined with links using variations of the website URL, an assortment of latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords and branded terms. The generic links, URLs and brand anchors are all pretty future proof. The next (in my opinion) footprint that Google will identify and punish is the heavy use of LSI keywords as anchors. Since many of you get your LSI directly from the Google Keyword Planner, it is not a far stretch to say they could uncover that footprint as well, likely using the same technology that detects spun content.
2. Controlling the 1st Tier of Links
Google is a volatile search engine at the moment and more changes have been rolled out since 2012 than in the 10 years preceding. Guest posting rose and fell from favor within a few years and with big sites like My Blog Guest getting penalized, the effects where felt by many. Combine this with the several other recent changes in what works for SEO and the end result was a ton of link removal services coming out of the woodwork. By setting up a network of sites around your main website, you essentially have an on/off switch that can be thrown at any time to point bad links away from your site. This means that you can use strategies like LSI anchor texts for as long as it is effective and when the day comes that it no longer works, flip the switch and get some new links. Obviously there are some links you will want to point directly to your main website. These include links from authority sites, new sites and other high quality links, everything else can and should be sent through the first-tier sites.
3. Don’t Just Follow
Look around the Internet about any SEO topic and you are likely to find countless opinions on how to perform the same task. Some of the information you read used to be effective, some of it is complete garbage, and a lot of it is just half-truths or partial strategies. This means that you as a DIY SEO need to take the information your read and test it. This will save you time on using strategies that do not work and it will also help you discover more effective strategies. In regard to future-proof SEO, followers are more likely to get penalized because by the time you read about a strategy online it is likely to have been spammed and abused putting in smack dab in the middle of Google’s radar.
4. Social Media, Social Media, Social Media!!!
No. I don’t mean you should just post your blogs on Facebook once and a while. Social signals are heavily debated as a ranking signal currently. Almost undoubtedly I can tell you that they will be more important in the future with regard to SEO. Aside from helping your website rank, social media is a source of referral traffic and serves to diversify your marketing mix. Additionally, an active social profile is an excellent piece of Web property to rank for keywords.
5. Diversify Your Online Marketing
SEO is not dead nor is it dying anytime soon. The days of an SEO company simply ranking you for keywords is over though (or at least it should be!). As an SEO, our job is to drive search traffic to your website so that you can monetize it and this will become even more important in the future. Ranking keywords is certainly a part of that, but in addition, you should be leveraging other sites to send traffic to you as well. Even though guest posting is dead, I still guest post on many sites. Sure, the SEO value may be reduced but guess what, SEM Rush, Search Engine Journal, Yahoo Small Business Advisor, and of course, my favorite Website Magazine (just to name a few) all do one thing very well: SEND REFERAL TRAFFIC! Aside from guest posting, niche and local directories and barnacle pages are another tool that can be leveraged to drive traffic to a website while you are working on your rankings or even to rank for a few additional terms (barnacle pages). If you are an SEO company, you should already be aware of the need to get visitors to your clients’ websites and if you are the DIY type, read up on some traffic generation methods.
Here are a few good resources to get you started
• Barnacle SEO: The Next Hot Trend in SEO?
• 21 Ways to Recover from Lost Organic Search Traffic
• Google + Optimization and Link Building Strategies
• http://backlinko.com/ - every post of his blog is packed with actionable information
• http://www.seobook.com/ - You will find several good posts on SEO Book as well.
6. Don’t Forget On-Page SEO
All other things being equal, on-page SEO is what will help you rank above your competition. Matt Cutts even said that if there are not any links to a page, on-page factors are used to establish the value of the content/website. Aside from the generic tips about using keywords in the title, unique content…blah, blah, blah, you need to focus on:
• Creating a fast and mobile-friendly website
• Optimizing for conversions and testing variations
• Develop something of value to exchange for visitor emails
• Make sure you tell visitors specifically what you are offering
• Don’t forget to make social sharing easy and encourage visitors to do so.
The future of SEO and SEO professionals is becoming proficient in online marketing as a whole and integrating SEO efforts seamlessly with social media and overall traffic generation strategies. As with any business, those whose adapt can flourish and those who refuse to change are going to become the 2020 equivalent of a phone book ad salesman.
Author Bio: Travis Bliffen is the founder of Stellar SEO, a search marketing and design agency located near St. Louis, Mo. Travis loves researching and writing about SEO strategies and implementing innovative strategies for his clients. Connect on Twitter @theseoproz.