There’s not much point in wasting time and money on an ineffective SEO campaign. The only thing worse is one that is actually detrimental to you, achieving the opposite of what you’ve set out to do. It’s entirely possible to find yourself in that scenario if you fail to appreciate the changing nature of SEO and you fail to adequately plan your SEO strategy with appropriate care.
The most important thing to know from a management perspective is that SEO is a dynamic and constantly evolving field. Consequently many things that were once considered good SEO practice are now considered to be bad, or at least not as good.
In particular, anything that could be regarded as a blackhat SEO tactic is now likely to bring a lot more trouble to you than any benefit you would gain from using it. Some of these tactics will work in the short term, but only until Google catches on to what you’ve done, and then you’ll really have a problem on your hands.
If you’re not offering anything back to the user, it’s poor SEO
How do you spot a bad SEO agency and the best SEO agency? They create an article of exactly 500 words (not more and not less, because somebody at some point decided this was the ideal number and widely published this as fact without a shred of evidence to support it). “Readers are lazy,” they said. “Big articles scare them,” they said. Neither of these claims is the least bit true.
Anyway, within their supposedly ideal 500 word article, there won’t be any genuinely useful information, the writing will be simply awful, and grammar won’t matter to them at all, as they’ll insist on including key phrases exactly as Google reports them in their keyword research tool. Apparently these jokers are unaware that Google doesn’t filter out bridging words of less than five characters. So for example a Google search for “fresh lobsters in Maine” is exactly equivalent to a search for “fresh lobsters Maine”, but in their SEO articles you’ll see awkward wording like:
“Our waterfront restaurant has the best fresh lobsters Maine, which we make every day to perfection. When you’re looking for fresh lobsters Maine you should come to our Maine seafood restaurant because we always have the fresh lobsters Maine that you are seeking.”
It’s not always as bad as that, but the point is that this could just as easily have been written:
“Our waterfront restaurant has the best fresh lobsters in Maine, which we make every day to perfection. When you’re looking for fresh Maine lobsters, you should come to our seafood restaurant.”
This way it’s more readable to a human and is not so obviously written for a search engine robot. Google will probably react negatively to the first example (keyword stuffing), but the second example is less likely to cause problems because:
- It is legible and makes sense to a human reader.
- The specific key words are there more than once, but they contain bridging words and are not in the exact same order too many times in a small span of text.
Even so, it’s still lousy copy. You should seek out a writer who can work those necessary phrases in to a document with a natural flow so that it doesn’t seem forced. Above all, the copy must be written so that it genuinely provides information. It should not be written from the view that it’s all about driving traffic to your site, it should be written with the intention of telling the reader something they didn’t know. Provide value to the reader through the quality of your copy.
An investment in quality copy is what makes content shareable
Social media has become a massive weapon in the SEO arsenal, and if you make the investment in creating quality content, users will reward you with likes and shares. When people feel that they have really connected with the content, they will usually want to express that. Even though national, Ecommerce SEO and local SEO used to be about fooling search engines into giving sites a higher rank than they deserve (for some people, at least), it no longer can be. Now your site actually does have to earn its rank, and there’s no good reason why it shouldn’t be able to.
Adding the ability to comment from social media can boost things more
If you just provide static information with no user interaction, that’s fine. If you add the ability for people to leave comments on the article, that can boost your rank a bit. If you include a plug-in that lets users comment directly from their logged-in social media account, however, that’s the real jackpot. Search engines pay attention to social media activities, and most social media services will report that the user left a comment so that all their friends know about it. This also makes the comments linked to a specific account, so you can more easily fight spam comments.
If the sole aim is to generate a lot of traffic, going out on a limb may be a good move
Normally for business sites you want to steer clear of anything controversial that may reflect poorly on you. But there can be times when it pays to use controversy as a strategy. You need to be careful with this, but it can work. The idea is to write something about some big scandal or event, and somehow work the thing you want to promote into the story (with a link). This will usually get a lot of attention and comments, which Google would see as “popularity”, and if this popular link building to your main site in a relevant way, it will effectively make your site seem more popular by association. It’s not an easy technique to get right, and really you need professional spin doctors to help you look positively saintly.
Really it’s just about common sense
There’s no big surprise here. Traditionally SEO hasn’t been very sensible and that was effective in the past. Now, nobody can afford to neglect the real needs of the users. It no longer can just be about you and your needs. Driving traffic to your site without losing ground is an art and a science, and it takes a long time to learn how to get the right balance. Looking to the future, you can expect Google to get tougher on low quality content that offers nothing of value to readers, so it makes sense to get in the habit now of providing good quality.