Search Engines are constantly changing the rules and formulas that they use to assign value and rank to web pages in their index in order to make searches more accurate and fair. Much of what the Yahoo, Bing, Ask or Google algorithms are not made public, making experience, research and patience an asset for SEOs and Search Engine Marketers. Lets start with what we know Search Engines like:
- External links from reputable sites
- User friendly sites
- Sites that are useful and unique
- Sites that are coded accurately and clearly without resulting to tricks designed to fool the search engines
- Text based (rather than image based) links
- Content that reflects the keywords a user might want to search for
With these guidelines in mind, we have found that there are techniques that have proven to work well for our clients. These SEO trends include, but aren’t limited to:
- Press Releases – to advertise a new product or service, announce updates or improvements, or draw attention to existing products or services.
- Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Linked-In, in addition to a myriad of industry specific social media sites, can improve Organic SEO while highlighting brands and companies via Social Media Marketing.
- Blogging – Setting up and continually updating a Blogger or WordPress blog can encourage community, build brand loyalty and encourage natural backlinks.
- Paid services (Ads, directory submission) – Google Ads and PPC help increase page views, and submission to top paid directories can have a positive impact on Organic SEO.
A good thing to remember when deciding whether a trend is bad or not is by asking yourself “if it wasn’t for SEO, would this technique be used?” If a SEO method is not bringing users new information or making their online experience easier, chances are the optimizer is either practicing unethical SEO or “black-hat” SEO or are using methods that simply don’t work:
- Blog Spam – Comment spam, or leaving many comments with links on many different blogs, is not an efficient way to build links due to the no-follow attribute.
- Bulk Directory Submissions – While submitting to low quality directories in bulk may not damage rankings, it isn’t likely to help either. Also remember that if your site is listed on a page with a huge amount of links, the search engines may not be able to find it (they index approximately 100 links at a time per page).
- Reciprocal Linking – Linking to a reasonable amount of relevant sites that also link back to your site is not going to hurt your site. Sites with link pages resembling small directories are examples of reciprocal linking run amuck and should be avoided.
- Search Engine Submission – An outdated, antiquated practice that has no place in modern SEO. (link to FAQ)
- Meta Keywords – There’s not harm in listing meta keywords in your site’s source code, but it isn’t going to help your SEO. (link to FAQ)
Many Search Engine Optimization Companies will use these methods as a feature in their sales package to entice potential clients. Don’t be fooled into thinking that these “methods” will affect the SEO of your site.
Unethical SEO is used by inexperienced optimizers in efforts to obtain high rankings very quickly. These methods are outdated, frowned on by Google, and can get your site banned from search engines or not indexed at all. At A Rank Above, we avoid the following black-hat SEO trends:
- Keyword Stuffing – Putting a lot of keywords on a webpage that are completely unrelated to the site itself.
- Link Farms – A group of unrelated websites that all think to each other for the sole purpose SEO spam.
- Manipulative Cloaking – Making the site the search engines crawl different from the site visitors see in attempts to unfairly skew rankings.
- Duplicate Content – Text or content is duplicated, verbatim, on different domains in attempts to manipulate search engines; content is either plagiarized/stolen from another site or it is unoriginal because it already exists somewhere else.
Exceptions do exist for honest tactics, however the algorithms themselves are very complicated and are become more sophisticated over time to counteract shady SEO practices and user error. An experienced SEO can you’re your company navigate this confusing industry.
Regardless of whether you choose A Rank Above for Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing, stay away from sites that have guarantees of high rankings. Such promises are either unsubstantiated, or are based on dishonest SEO practices.