Your website’s search engine ranking can make the difference between getting more business or getting a trickle of traffic. Did you know that websites on page 1 for a particular keyword get a majority of the traffic, thereby leaving websites on other pages with a trickle?
However, in the quest to make it to page one, some entrepreneurs execute strategies which Google hates. They work for a few months, but then Google updates their algorithm, and thousands of websites lose their top spot. Imagine spending a lot of time and money to get on page one, seeing an increase in business and then waking up to find that it is all gone.
I will be taking a look at the SEO techniques which you should remove from your strategy and the ones which will give you long term success.
The importance of great content
Before we delve into the best SEO strategy for long term success, we need to begin at the foundations: great content.
Over the past few years, we have seen a growth in freelance writers and a race to the bottom. However, the less you pay a writer, the less time they are likely to spend on the research required to craft an engaging piece. In a similar fashion, you need to dedicate time to content creation.
I was recently speaking to an influential blogger who mentioned that he spends at least 30 hours on a blog post. That might be too extreme for some; however, his blog posts get more traffic and engagement than anyone else. As he put it “If I were to die today, my site would continue to make $50,000 a month on autopilot”.
You see, when you reach out to influential websites to secure a guest posting opportunity or get a link placed, they won’t care that:
… You only spent a few dollars getting it written.
… You didn’t have time to craft great content.
… Your content doesn’t add anything new to the table.
All a site owner will care about is the quality of your content. Much like a house with a poor foundation, your SEO strategy will come crashing down without great content to hold it up.
Now that we have built the foundation, let’s look at the SEO strategies you should avoid.
1) Paying for mass submitted links
There are thousands of “SEO experts” who claim to know how to get your website submitted to thousands of websites in a few days in order to get “link juice”. To be fair, link juice is a real thing, but we will get on to that later.
What the “SEO expert” won’t tell you is that the websites they are getting you links from were created for the particular purpose of giving links. They don’t provide any real value, and are often blacklisted. Think of such sites like the public toilets of the web where websites go to get pulled down the rankings and executed by Google.
Interestingly, some people are literally paying for their sites to die in this pit of doom.
The key to link building is relevance. You need to get relevant links into the hands of relevant website owners so that they feel compelled to link to it. No matter what people might say, there is no software to getting your sites linked to by top sites.
It is a long process. But when it all comes together and a client’s site shoots up the rankings, I look on like a proud father.
2) Keyword stuffing
Repeat after me: “Mentioning the same keyword multiple times in my content has no bearing on search engine ranking.”
This might sound crazy to you, but let me explain. Google plays a sort of game with SEO consultants. As new SEO strategies are found and then exploited Google closes them. During the early days of search engines, you could rank any site by repeating the same keyword multiple times in an article.
Google closed this loophole many years ago, but for whatever reason, it is being taught by many “gurus”.
Besides the fact that keywords stuffing has no bearing on search engines ranking, it also reduces the quality of content. It makes sentences read very awkwardly. People buy products and services; therefore, you must make sure that every piece of content you put out delights them.
Copying paragraphs or whole articles from other sites isn’t just immoral, it can cause search engine rankings to plummet. Google’s algorithm knows who was the first to publish a particular piece of content. Subsequent publications are regarded as “unoriginal” content.
In the past this technique worked; however, search engines are getting very good at phasing it out. Original content can take a lot of time, effort and money to produce, but the long term impact can be astounding. Once you hit a home run piece of content, it will bring consistent leads, traffic and conversions.
Choice of website host
When choosing a website hosting service it can be difficult to avoid cheap offerings. There are so many web hosts that promise 99.9% uptime for a very low price. For SEO purposes, you want to host with an SSD VPS hosting provider.
Let me explain why…
Shared hosting plans are the cheapest hosting plans available. They are cheap because multiple people use the same server. Think of it like renting an apartment block in a large neighbourhood. You might run your website legitimately and do all the right things; however, you can’t control what your “neighbours” do.
For instance, if some of them run their websites in a way which is against Google’s policies and they get blacklisted, this will bring greater scrutiny to all the sites on that particular server. If this happens multiple times, your site could lose rankings through no fault of your own. If you are a good person but all your neighbours indulge in illegal activities, the value of your property is likely to go down.
Don’t let other people’s “mistakes” affect the search engine ranking of your site.
Moreover, sites hosted on shared hosting plans are slower than those hosted on VPS plans. This is because they are having to share multiple server resources with limited people. If another site gets a spike in traffic, it can affect the speed of your site. Notably, site speed is a search engine ranking factor.
How to build good SEO from scratch
Now that we have gotten all the bad practices out of the way, let’s look at how to build a strong SEO strategy from the ground up.
1) Get an VPS SSD hosting plan.
2) Get a responsive theme with an up-to-date design. Popups that load as soon as a page is loaded are a bad idea. Anything that might affect a visitor’s experience is heavily frowned on by Google.
3) Fill out the About pages, Contact pages and any other pages you have. Be as descriptive as possible without boring people.
4) Create a content strategy
Having a blog is an absolute must, but it doesn’t mean that it should be filled with nonsense. For example, someone with a professional services business shouldn’t use it as a platform to share their political views or what they had for breakfast. It looks tacky, unprofessional and confuses Google.
Your content strategy should be based on what the site is about, your target audience and what they are interested in. For instance, a real estate website would have articles based on buying, selling and renting. A content strategy should have focus, if you try to do too many things at once, the whole thing could fall apart. This is why I advise against having a site which aims to do too many things at once.
It is important that each piece of content is the best it can be. You should look at it, compare with other content pieces and think “My target audience are going to love this!”. It should be so good that you just want to shout about it from the rooftops. Exceptional content gets links, rankings and brings an avalanche of traffic.
You should post content on a consistent basis. If time only allows for once per week, then post once per week. If you can set aside time to post once per day, then do so. However, never post for the sake of having “something out there”.
You can then pitch your exceptional content to top, relevant websites in your niche. Look to place the following link types:
– Pages with broken links. You can use any free broken link checker, to find out if a particular page has broken links. If you have a piece of content that fits, contact the site owner and pitch your content to “fix” the broken link. These are the easiest types of links to get. Site owners are often impressed that I took notice and was able to provide a relevant piece of content.
– Resource pages
Some sites post “Top ten” “Best of” style posts. These can be outdated. Find top relevant websites using Google and pitch your piece to them. Tell them that they have an awesome resource page, but you have something which you think might fit.
– Reverse engineer the link profiles of competitors
Success leaves clues. Use a tool like SEMrush to ‘reverse engineer’ what is making your competitor’s websites get such high ranks. Pay particular attention to where their links are coming from, which of their content gets linked to the most etc. I use this for each client in order to draw up a list of target websites and use this to refine the content strategy.
5) Be consistent
A good search engine ranking can’t be gained overnight; however, it can be lost very quickly. It is a long term strategy. In fact, many of the top websites online have lots of content built up over time. The more they grow, the harder it is for them to lose their rankings.
In conclusion, I hope you found this post useful. I have tried to condense as much of my knowledge and experience of the SEO industry as possible.
Bio: Amit Raj is a freelance SEO consultant based in the UK, who specialises in white hat link building techniques.