In 2006 or so you could easily learn everything you needed to know about SEO from reading blogs and hanging out in forums. It wouldn’t cost you a red cent for the most part. You could sit back, ask questions, and take place in stimulating conversations about search engine optimization. Fast forward to the present. It’s almost 2012, and the end of the world has already occurred for many websites, courtesy of the Google Panda updates. If you search the internet for information now, you’ll be assaulted by tons of self-serving scammy advice, paid product shilling, and closely guarded secrets.
SEO is big business now. In fact, “SEO” has become a subset of larger marketing efforts which are representative of big budgets. Mechanical SEO is not the sure-fire technique it used to be. In an environment where those who know don’t say and those who say don’t know, you can expect a lot of really bad information about SEO posing as gospel. I’d like to take a few moments to dispel some of these myths and offer some real world advice to anyone who is trying to generate search engine traffic.
Don’t overcomplicate things
If you look around at what some people are doing, they’ve made the process of SEO utterly too complex. What passes for advice now borders on the ludicrous. A simple question about building backlinks as a strategy will inevitably open the door for someone to suggest a complex pyramid of links. ”For example you will want to create a link whel, using web 2.0 properties such as squidoo, hubpages, blogger, and others. I’d say one link wheel per keyword/post you want to boost in the serp,” said a forum poster recently. ”Then,create backlinks to these web 2.0 properties you created. These could be social bookmarks, blog comments and forum profiles.”
You get the idea. You need to purchase multiple ‘link-building programs‘ that spam the internet placing your unwanted URL into as many open forms as possible. Since the links are so inherently weak, you’ll need to daisy chain them altogether. Worse, you’ll need to build backlinks to your backlinks! If that’s not enough work for you, you’ll need to keep replenishing your backlinks and your backlinks to backlinks because they’ll keep getting de-indexed! In other words, you’ll have to keep on paying every month for programs to create useless low-level backlinks that couldn’t outrank a wet paper bag!
Link building doesn’t have to cost big money.
You can build links as cheaply as you want. In fact, you can earn many links just by contributing your expertise to existing communities and blogs. Everyone is on the lookout for quality content. If you can produce excellent blog articles, then there are numerous high-traffic, high authority blogs that will post those for you and allow you to link back to your main website in the body article or bio box. Since these types of posts also bring traffic, they’re a boon for your blog or website. Organic links earned in this manner tend to be much more valuable than any backlink that can be generated.
Excellent content can also earn you legitimate backlinks. That’s right. If you build a really solid and informative article, you can expect to get links from real sources. This type of freely given editorial link is the Holy Grail of in-content links that Google really uses to assign rankings. Sure this type of link is the hardest one of all to get. Most things in life that are worthwhile are hard to obtain. But links like this can move your website out of the internet slums and into the higher rankings associated with life on the top of the search engines. You’ll have to work for these links, but they’ll last a lot longer than profile links which are being moved off into the wilderness every day by even more spam submissions.
Keep Your Own Counsel
People love following gurus online. The trouble is, many online gurus are over-inflated cream-puffs who don’t know that much about that which they speak. You know the old saying: “those who can, do. Those who can’t make videos about it.” People would love to sell you whatever spam program they’re offering that month. They’ll be happy to charge you for ‘coaching.’ If you’re going to spend money in this manner, you’d be better off putting the cash directly into content production or web development. You know, put the cash into making your website great! That could get you linked from legitimate sources faster than choosing the anti-social road of spamming successful people’s websites. Work with the internet community to build your rankings instead of attacking them!
Social Media Trumps Search
You know how I said earlier that SEOs have been ‘moving on.’ It’s been going on for years now. Successful SEO companies began morphing into full service agencies as far back as 2008. They realized the limitations of mechanical SEO, which can be performed by low-cost SaaS solutions. In order to charge companies bigger money and to actually help them get rankings in competitive arenas, they realized they’d have to offer a lot more value. Now they do press releases, public relations work, social media marketing, and more to help get search engine rankings. They don’t focus nearly as much time on mechanical SEO as they used to. Social ranking signals and brand clarity are now much more important than they used to be, so neglecting them just won’t work.
If you want to emulate “SEOs,” then follow the big agencies with the really big clients. Don’t put all your stock in what a ‘forum expert SEO‘ tells you. See what’s really happening in the real world. Take a look at truly competitive SERPs and you’ll soon realize that old-school SEO has long ago given way to an all-out full-media assault. Content quality is now expected to be very high, and companies are sparing no expense in creating engaging social web presences that really compel people to interact. You can do the same on whatever scale you choose to and have similar results.
Dance To The Beat Of Your Own Drummer
There’s more than enough ‘same‘ on the web these days. Don’t be just like everyone else. Sure, it makes a small amount of common sense to imitate what others do in order to try and find your own path to success. The problem is, the people you’re imitating likely are famous because of innovations. They didn’t set out to copy everyone else, and neither should you. Niches on the internet these days are very crowded and very little new information is being released. You should consider creating something that is different from everyone else. Failing that, at least put a very unique spin on your content. If not, people will think they’ve already seen it all before and they won’t visit again.
Get Your SEO Advice Straight From The Source
Google is still the main driver of search engine traffic online and should be considered the primary source of your SEO information. Although they won’t give any secrets away, Google has amassed a wealth of information that can help newbies who are looking to learn the basics about search engine optimization. Delve into their materials to get a solid grounding in all the basics, before you attempt to take on the internet with a spam program.
- Google Webmaster Tools. This is where it all happens. Submit your sitemap, verify your website and dig into the reports. Your account will show you how your website is being crawled and you’ll get a clear impression of how Google views your website. This is the most basic and important information about SEO you can have for your website.
- Google Analytics. Google Analytics is another free tool from Google that will help you analyze your website visitors. You need to delve into these stats to see which content of yours is most popular and how your visitors are engaging on your site. Understanding user behavior is the key to improving the quality of your website.
- Google Webmaster Forum. Check out the official forum for Google Webmasters. Be warned: there is a lot of unofficial trolling going on here as well, but if you read through some of the posts you can glean decent information on what’s ranking. Examine the websites that people post. That gives you exact information about penalties and ranking. There are many examples of URLs in this forum that have been penalized. Analyzing what they’ve done is a great way to make sure you don’t suffer the same fate.
- Inside Search. The official Google search blog. Learn about changes to Google’s search engine as they happen. Don’t wait for ‘gurus’ to report on and analyze Google changes. Do it yourself by following their official blog.
- Matt Cutts Blog. Matt Cutts is the head of Google’s web spam team and has long been their main online and in-person representative for search. He uses his personal blog and social media presence to converse with the public about Google search engine changes.
- Google Webmaster Help on YouTube. Matt Cutts and others on the Google search team have produced numerous videos where they speak about what’s going on in Google search. Almost every topic you can imagine has been tackled. You can get up to speed straight from the horse’s mouth through watching these videos.
SEO is a complicated field, but there are many basics that can be applied easily. If you produce excellent content and follow the basic principles of search engine optimization, you’ll have no problem getting traffic to your website.
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