In April 2012 we learned that Google had started cracking down on low-value tactics. The Google Penguin update enforced stricter rules and more penalties on what the company considers to be underhanded schemes to manipulate rankings in the search engines. After the Penguin update, there were also 13 Panda updates, as well as stricter guidelines on low-quality Exact Match Domains (EMDs).
As for Google’s next algorithm updates, well who knows what they’ve got up their sleeve, but one thing we can be sure about is that—they will continue to develop further updates and that within these updates will be yet more tighter and stringent guidelines.
One things for sure though, and that’s whether you are a blogger or a webmaster, you’ll want to protect the hard work and effort that went in to the development of your website or sites. But how can you make sure that all your time and effort isn’t wasted? To answer that question in more detail here are my top seven SEO tips for 2013:
- Diversify. Most of the single-tactic approach to search engine optimization is short-term at best. What do real companies, real link profiles, and real marketing strategies have in common? They are rich with variety. Diversity can be a vague term, but pursuing diversity in your online strategy is high up on my top tips for SEO this year.
- Make Your Anchor Text Diverse. Aggressive inbound link anchor text can be problematic and a little bit too hard-sell, as such the Google Penguin update picked up on that and reinforced the message. If every link to your site does not read coherent or says something like “buy best (insert brand name) cheap (insert brand name) today!” then the search engines will read and interpret that as spam—especially if it is sandwiched between a sentence that would have made a bit of sense. Most SEO tips skirt around this issue and as a result, people think that it’s okay to insert some hard-sell (and incoherent) message in an unrelated sentence. Instead make your anchor text seem natural—stop obsessing over it. Anchor text is a useful signal, but a good and solid link profile will need to use relevant text and appear in the context of said relevant text.
- Ensure Diversity in Your Links. Most top tips for SEO stress on the importance of links, and there are a wide variety of ways to ensure their abundance in your site. As of 2012, we have seen the proliferation of guest posts on SEO blogs, which sound like a great idea to build links. However, any method that is abused to near death can be a low quality link-building tactic. The problem here is that someone will come across SEO tips saying that guest posts make good links, and they publish the same thing on thousands of other sites—which resulted in the significant decrease of rankings. Look at the main source of your 2012 link portfolio, and consider doing something different this year.
- Shake Up Your Traffic Sources. Most people who use search engine optimization are highly dependent on Google for traffic. If Google decides to tighten up its guidelines, it’s becoming blatantly clear that we have no other choice but to conform to these guidelines, otherwise we are penalised for not following the rules and for using black-hat tactics. The more we follow the Google Algorithm, the more obvious it is that a change in the search engine user interface and feature landscape might be more important than the core algorithm. If something drastic happens—such as the sudden shift to video snippets (and you do not have any videos) or if your niche veers toward paid inclusion (and you do not have the ability to pay)—your traffic could drop instantly even if you have followed all the rules. The best way to shake up your traffic sources is to think beyond Google—yes, it will take time and money, but as I briefly touched on at the end of my last post, if you are in business for the long run, then a bit of foresight definitely won’t hurt.
- Branch Out in Your Marketing. Good old fashioned marketing is an important aspect to learn in the business of search engine optimization. Developing and doing something amazing can be marketing if you believe that what you do is amazing. However, if you are churning out trash that you know is not worth anything, you can use marketing to fool the unsuspecting into thinking that you are amazing. However to earn a customer for life, you at very least have to make them believe that you are amazing, and to also deliver on your promise. Stop looking for and trying short-cuts this year— analyse your current value proposition. From there, both content and marketing strategies will flow naturally. Discover the main aspect that makes your company unique and exciting, and build on that to build a better relationship with your subscribers and/or customers.
- Expand Your Point of View. Having a fresh perspective and a burning passion for search engine optimization is not something you can develop through perusing hundreds and hundreds of SEO tips. Instead coming at the problem with the right attitude has to be the best approach. Try looking at things in a different light and you might notice things that you haven’t seen before; (ever experienced that with a movie?) It can be highly profitable (and enjoyable) with your business! So try looking at things with curiosity, even the things that are of less interest but are perhaps essential (SEO can be a good example of this), only If you are bored with what you do, chances are that your prospects and customers are bored with what you do as well.
- Understand What Good Content Is. Make sure that your content is not only creative—it has to be unique, direct, exclusive, and definitely not duplicated. Make sure that you can offer original and useful content that can benefit your prospects and users. Follow this simple process: create the content, check for possible errors (in grammar, facts, etc.), analyse revise if necessary, publish, monitor, and interact with your intended audience. Then repeat the same process all over again. The next time you post in your blog or website, you can capitalize on your individuality and use it as a defining factor of your site. Also, if you rely heavily on Google for most of your traffic, it wouldn’t hurt to check out the new quality guidelines and make sure that not just your content, but your entire SEO strategy for this year is in alignment with them.
Paul Graham Online.com