When it comes to SEO, there is a lot of bad information practically everywhere you look in the marketplace. Most of what is being taught or sold to internet marketers or other folks building a business online is simply outdated, and may even hurt your rankings. Getting good results with SEO takes a lot of patience, and most people simply do not want to accept that. Having realistic expectations are one of the most important parts of getting the results you want, and taking a longer term approach is critical in implementing an SEO strategy that will work for more than just a few weeks or months.
When I think of search engine optimization, the image that immediately comes to mind is the race between the tortoise and the rabbit. I felt a lot like that rabbit a couple of years ago, and I pushed my sites hard to get them to rank, often in just a few weeks – even for some of the primary keywords I was targeting. What I found was that this approach gave me the short term gains and traffic that I was after, but I wound up getting punished by about the third or fourth month on average and my rankings subsequently plummeted. This was because I had adopted a poor Google Panda SEO strategy, and you simply can’t take this approach and have lasting success in 2016. What I learned was that the tortoise wins in the SEO race.
This is because during 2015 and the beginning of 2016, Google Panda implemented a lot of fundamental changes to their search algorithms, but I was too busy building links to notice. Google was a little bit slow catching on to what I was doing (if you call 3 months slow) – at least slower than the search engines are today. Over-aggressive link building is often identified by the search formulas in just a few weeks now. Hopefully I can help you to better understand how effective SEO strategies work, and how to make them work with your online business.
It Is All About Building a Relationship
The first thing I want to share with you is the fact that SEO is simply building a relationship between your website and Google. If your SEO strategy is sound, your website will develop good communications with the search engines. This includes your on-page (not as much) and off-page ranking factors, and is important to realize when you are just getting started with SEO.
It’s Like Talking To An Alien. If your overall SEO strategy is weak, your website will not communicate well with the search engines. It is like they are people from a different planet, and the search engines will not be able to clearly understand what targeted keywords you want your website to rank well for. Over aggressive link building can get your site “sandboxed” or penalized, and some websites can take anywhere from several months or a year or more to recover.
Basics of SEO – the Importance of PageRank
A lot of people have misconceptions about Pagerank (PR) and the role it plays in SEO in 2016. Pagerank was the initial ranking system that Google relied on to rank pages on the web, but over time, its importance has become less and less of a factor for obtaining high search engine rankings. Google calculates PR for each page of your website. A lot of folks believe that a website has a pagerank, but this is not entirely accurate.
The PR for your website is simply the weighted average of the PR for each of the individual pages on your site. When you get a high PR backlink to a page or post on your website, it is based on the exact page that is linking to you. One of the common scams you will see advertised around the web is with people selling high PR backlinks.
Beware The Guys Shoveling Crap. Sure, they get your link placed initially on a high PR page (usually the homepage of a blog), but what happens most of the time is that after enough other links are posted on that page – yours is pushed off of the homepage, and the link loses it’s punch on a lower PR page. Always be sure to ask how long your backlink will remain on the high PR page if you decide to buy high PR links.
Having a high pagerank website is second to being popular. High pagerank alone will not get your pages ranked well, and should not be your focus. I have built a handful of sites that were PR 4 and above, but it did not help me in the rankings. Obtaining a higher PR website goes hand in hand with building a website with more authority, but the truth is that both authority and pagerank are secondary goals in effective SEO strategy.
The primary focus should be on building a diverse backlinking structure around your website over time. Your efforts should increase about 20% from month to month, and should start out slower rather than faster to be successful. No matter what anyone says, a website with 100,000 links will easily outrank a website with 1,000. Thus, popularity is the most important theme in getting results with SEO.
Overall SEO Strategy
Your SEO strategy has to be primarily based on backlinking, at least for the first 6 to 12 months. It can be helpful to think of SEO as the launch pad for your online advertising efforts. SEO is about marketing your business through a variety of traffic channels, and having a diverse strategy works better for ranking in the search engines in 2016.
Once you begin to get more traffic to your website, people will start backlinking to your pages more and more. This is when your efforts will really pay off. The combination of your own efforts and the efforts of your visitors will combine in a synergy to create a very powerful “ranking machine”. Your website authority will grow as your popularity grows, and your pages will be indexed by Google and ranked with relative ease as compared to those of a newer site.
Its All About Being Popular. To implement an effective and well-rounded strategy, you will basically be building a diverse array of lower PR backlinks, with a lower number of high PR backlinks over time. It is important to start off with mostly weak lower PR links, since websites do not typically get higher PR backlinks until they are more established. Most people want to do this the opposite way around, but avoid the temptation to build too many high PR backlinks too quickly or it will most definitely set you back.
The other concept that most people get completely wrong has to do with where they target their backlinks. Most folks have a tendency to build most of their backlinks to their homepage, but that is completely backwards to effective SEO link building. In short, this is one of the tell-tale signs that your site is not linking naturally, and the search engines will detect this within just a few weeks if you decide to go that route. I have been guilty of doing this with a couple of websites, and wound up being penalized for many months for having way too many links going to my homepage.
The best results have been proven time after time to have been achieved by those websites that build a majority of their links to the inner pages of their websites. This is because if someone is linking to you naturally, they will link to the specific page on your site that is relevant to them. This is rarely the homepage, and 70-80 percent of your links should be going to your inner pages.
On-Page SEO Factors To Focus On
The on site factors don’t have a tremendous influence on your rankings anymore. A few years ago, getting ranked well was all about having great content, but today it is more about having a diversified backlink profile. You can have the most engaging and valuable content on the web, but without backlinks, nobody will ever see it. For what it is worth, I sincerely hope that this changes in the future, and that Google actually rewards those websites with the best content.
The reality in 2016 though – is that backlinks are still more important than any on-site SEO factors, and is why we are discussing backlinking in a much greater detail in this article.
I am not saying that creating quality content and website design are not important here, because they are both very important if you want to have a successful online business. If you get people to come to your website, you don’t want them leaving soon after – because most of the time they will never return. You usually don’t get a second chance to make a first impression – in the real world, or on the web.
Most people will get the most benefit from only focusing on 3 on-page SEO factors, and then moving on to the off-page factors. After personally conducting and witnessing hundreds of on-site SEO factor evaluations, a couple of things stood out that we should really concern ourselves with. The first is having a lot of content on each page “above the fold”. The more content you have on the page before someone has to scroll down, the higher your rankings will be for that page.
The second thing to focus on is having variation of your targeted keywords in all of the traditional on-page SEO places. This means that you should have the targeted keyword as part of your title tag, in some of your headings on the page, and sprinkled lightly throughout the content of the page.
The third and final on-page SEO factor to concern yourself with is building a tight internal linking structure. Internal links count, just like external backlinks do, and are just as important to creating a funnel from your high content feeder pages and posts – to your landing and sales pages. Use a significant amount of keyword variation when you are internal linking, and use predominantly partial match anchor text for your internal links – where the keyword for the page you are linking to is a part of the anchor text. Exact match anchor text started counting less than partial match as a ranking factor in 2015, yet we still see many SEO “gurus” believing and claiming the exact opposite.
Keyword stuffing is when you put the targeted keyword in the page too many times, and that is not natural – or necessary to achieve high rankings. Google uses LSI (latent semantic indexing) more now than in the past, and this means that the algorithm “knows” what your page is about without having the targeted keywords all over the place. It can even tell what your page is about without the targeted keywords being anywhere on the page even one time – in certain instances.
Off-Page SEO – Getting Results
There is one idea I want to burn into your mind. It is that the name of the SEO game in 2012 is diversity. You have to be diverse in all of your off-page SEO practices if you want to achieve high rankings. This means that you have to blend backlinking with social signals and with different traffic sources. Social signals such as having Facebook likes, Tweets, and Google +1s are like getting backlinks now.
To achieve high rankings for competitive keywords, you simply have to appear to have a “natural” backlink profile, and having this “social proof” is important to have to give this appearance. Google is now relying on this social proof as a sort of “third party verification” that your content is as good as your backlinks suggest. Some pages on websites with higher authority can rank high for their targeted keywords without any backlinks at all – at least for less competitive keywords.
If you go out and buy social signals for your pages (using services like SYNND and Social ADR), you simply cannot have more signals on your pages than traffic to those pages. It simply would not make sense that you have 500 Facebook likes on a page when only 200 people have actually visited the page. Again, you have to add these social signals slowly and over time, to get a strong ROI on social media, and to maintain a natural looking profile.
Diversity Your Traffic Sources. Google is also watching your alternate traffic sources – as verification that your social signals and backlinks are legitimate. Promoting your website with PR releases, article marketing, and with YouTube videos is very important to maintaining a solid online business strategy overall.
The Google algorithm actually will (at least temporarily) give you more traffic when your traffic from other sources is higher. This is a sort of “dynamic throttling” that they have shifted to recently, and it is easy to observe right in your Google Analytics account. In effect, the more traffic you bring from other traffic sources, the more “Google Love” you will get.
Google also counts “citations” that it finds now, and gives you points in its ranking equation for more citations. Citations are where your website is mentioned in text or in videos, and where there is no specific backlink to your site. This is why “white hat” SEO link building and using alternate traffic channels are more important to incorporate into your SEO efforts nowadays. Besides that, YouTube has more daily searches than Google now – I think it is like 3 billion or so – every day. It just makes good sense to start making a video here and there, heck, you might like that more than writing articles!
Google also converts what you say in videos to text, and uses this to rank YouTube videos for their targeted keywords (YouTube is owned by Google). The next time you upload a video to your YouTube channel, go into the video management settings, where you will find the transcript of the words that it deciphered right below the video itself. You can even upload your transcript of the actual words if the computer translated what you said wrong.
Having the Right Expectations for Your SEO Campaign
You simply cannot afford to rely 100% on organic traffic to have and maintain a solid online presence. You have to be willing to start taking baby steps to implement a variety of traffic channels to protect your business from getting hurt if the search algorithms change dramatically in the future. The funny thing is, if you do more of the things that Google is looking for – you will actually build a solid online business – and get more organic search traffic because of it.
You Will Be Happy With The Results. By setting your expectations correctly, and taking a longer-term approach, you may tap into other traffic sources that could target the types of customers you are after even better than organic search. Many businesses have found a virtual gold mine in producing YouTube videos, or from the massive fan base they are able to tap into by creating a Facebook business page. See what works for you, and do all of the things that you would be doing if Google didn’t exist – in addition to your backlinking efforts. You will be handsomely rewarded for your diversified SEO strategy and efforts – and will probably wonder why you didn’t try some of these other things sooner.