I suppose I should preface this post by saying, “Only five ways?” Not to be a pessimist, but SEO has become a lot harder over the past few years and it just continues along that path. I don’t say this to discourage you from trying to optimize your site. Rather, I feel it’s important to be realistic in these matters and to have a clear idea of what you can expect.
Here are 5 ways SEO is set to become harder as we head toward 2015.
Fresh content has always been an SEO mainstay but it becomes increasingly important as the years tick by. High quality content is wrapped up in SEO like never before and that means generally more effort required for marketers.
Why does this require more effort? For starters, it demands a dramatic change in perspective. While the focus used to be placed primarily on link building and on-page SEO, you now need to widen your focus to include content marketing in a big way. You will still need to do keyword research and delve into the specifics of what your competition is doing, of course, but the majority of your time will be spent creating original high-quality content that demands to be read, commented on, and shared.
This is obviously much harder than the SEO tactics of old where all you needed to do was conduct some keyword research and create content around a few targeted terms. Back then, you’d see your site rank for these terms and that was that. Now, however, every single business out there has competition, which means no matter how much on-page optimization you do, you won’t necessarily see your site rank well.
Enter the allure of high quality content. When you write content that is targeted to your industry, relevant to your audience, and is highly valuable, it serves multiple purposes. It’s useful for people to read, yes, but it’s also more likely to be linked to. It’s more likely to be shared on social networks. And it’s more likely that you’ll hit upon several long tail keywords. Google’s getting smarter, people, and looks for context and relevancy. All the more reason to make sure your content checks off those boxes then, right?
There was a short-lived period of time just after Google authorship launched that saw anybody who went to the trouble to establish authorship receive an author photo and byline in relevant search results. It was pretty cool.
But now, authorship is becoming a much more specialized thing. Just setting it up doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a full rich snippet along with your article in the search results anymore. In fact, if you’re not logged into Google, you won’t see any head shots in the results anymore. That’s only reserved for the personalized results you receive on a search while logged in. The only bit of authorship that remains in standard non-logged in search results is a byline. The byline is linked to the author’s Google+ page of course.
So, whatever boost people were seeing as a result of author photos appearing next to their articles in search results has dropped significantly. Now, the focus is on building your reputation within personalized search results. And even then your photo will only accompany a result if you’re in the searcher’s Google+ circles and are relevant to them. Relevant here means you’re an active and engaged G+ user.
Basically, the best authorship perks are reserved for the most dedicated Google+ users. Establishing a robust presence there has never been more important, which means a lot more time will need to be spent on posting and engaging there. Well, you know what they say — there’s no rest for the wicked!
If you keep up with the SEO world at all, you likely heard about Matt Cutt’s statement that guest blogging was pretty much done. What he was referring to in this case was guest blogging for links. You know, the kind of posts you could write up in 20 minutes to submit to a blog that publishes everything from nail care tips to home refinancing advice and has virtually no control for quality?
Those sites are designed solely for providing backlinks and that looks spammy to Google. If you want to make guest blogging work — and I think it’s a worthwhile tactic to pursue — you need to put in the effort. That means writing high quality posts that appeal directly to your target audience then submitting those posts to relevant, high quality sites in your niche.
That’s the only way to make guest blogging work for you and it is, indeed, work.
On the surface, social media might not seem like it has much of anything to do with SEO but that’s likely because you’re thinking of it in an outdated way. SEO encompasses a whole lot more now than just keywords and site rank. In fact, a lot of companies out there have slimmed down their traditional SEO strategy in favor of a more robust social media strategy.
The two are inextricably linked now, which is a big change for people comfortable in the old world of SEO. The idea here is to build traffic to your site without the aid of a search engine. An active social presence can net you a ton of referral links and a dedicated follower base, which some might argue has even more value than a high rank in the search engines. Regardless of how well you’re doing in the search results, however, you need to take the time to develop a social presence, too. Even more work for overworked SEOs, yes, but necessary just the same.
SEO is all about diversification these days. Think you can rank for one hot keyword in your niche and call it a day? Think again. That’s just not how the game is played anymore. You see, where your site winds up in the search results relies on way too many factors. Personalization is huge. That means people logged into Google will see results based on more factors than just Google algorithm. Their results are affected by browsing history, personal interests, social network presence, and more.
Those are things all outside of your control. Bummer, I know. But it’s just the way of the world now so you have to get used to it. And even though SEO might not be as familiar to some who’ve been in the game since the beginning, the principles are still the same. You still need good on-page SEO. You still need good content. And you still need links. The emphasis is taken off the idea of ranking for particular keywords and instead placed on how relevant your site is to your niche and to your target audience. It’s about the big picture and quality now.
You will definitely need some elbow grease to get any SEO traction. And it’s poised to get more complicated as time goes on. But don’t let that discourage you. A good website is a good website. You just have to put in the effort to make sure other people know that, too.