Doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that stands the test of time is something I have been preaching for a long time. This post is no different.
Why are short term SEO strategies a waste of time? What SEO strategies will continue to work in 2016 and beyond? How does one stay focused on long term SEO?
Let’s dive into each question in detail, shall we?
#1. Don’t Waste Time with Short Term SEO
As humans we tend to think that we are the exception. Sure, Joe and cousin Dori got lung cancer from smoking, but I won’t. Why would I? I exercise regularly and try to eat healthy two days a week. Also, I only smoke half a pack per day so, my chances of ever getting cancer are drastically lower than they were for Joe.
Or – seeing I live in motorbike country – I don’t need to wear a helmet. I’ve been riding motorbikes all my life and don’t take unnecessary risks, so chances of anything serious happening to me are very slim.
I don’t smoke (aside from the odd cigar). I also never ride a motorbike without a helmet. But I have come to terms with the fact that I am not the exception.
Truth is, if something can happen to anyone, it can just as easily happen to me. That is the reality of life. Once I came to terms with this, it was a freeing feeling.
The same thing holds true when I do SEO. Even though I would have never admitted it, I (deep down) believed/hoped that I would be the exception and that Google would not notice me using black hat tactics to get top search engine rankings. And I – proudly – was the exception for a few months… until Google showed me that I was just like anyone else.
Why should I be the exception?
When Google finally de-indexed my site (for using black hat ranking techniques), I was devastated. And yet relieved at the same time. The worst that could have happened, happened!
It was good while it lasted, but here is the truth: It wasn’t worth it. As profitable as that site was during that short period of time, it did not make up for all the time and money I spent to get it ranking high.
Moral of the story? I am no exception. You are no exception. Your sites are also not an exception. If you use black hat techniques to get top rankings, stop. You will get caught (sooner or later). It just isn’t worth it!
#2. SEO Strategies to Focus on for 2016
You don’t need to look into a magic ball to predict the future of SEO. In fact, to predict its future, you need to look at its past. Let me explain!
Google has been around since 1998. It has evolved a LOT since then – especially its ranking algorithms – but a few core principles remained the same.
I talk about each of these in a bit more details in my “3 Steps to Dominating on Google” post, but let me give you another quick layout:
- Relevancy: Is the content relevant to your topic? When a searcher lands on your site, will they find exactly what they’re looking for?
To make sure your site covers the exact topics most often searched for (in it’s niche), you will want to do some keyword research. Unless your site addresses the very thing the searcher is looking for, chances of Google recommending your site to them are very slim.
So be sure to do some keyword research and be sure to include those keywords once or twice in the content you’re hoping the searcher to land on. The keyword tool I use and highly recommend for this is Long Tail Pro.
- User Experience: Aside from finding the right keyword to write about, make sure a user actually enjoys reading your content on the topic. In other words, make sure the content on your site is of utmost quality.
If you’re a horrible writer, find someone who is good at it. Don’t settle for someone with OKAY writing skills, find someone who is at least pretty good. It will cost you more, but you get what you pay for!
A good user experience goes further though. It goes as far as: Is your site mobile friendly? A very high percentage of searches take place on mobile devices now, so you want to make sure your site can be properly read from such devices. If you use WordPress as the base for your site, chances are really good that the theme you’re using is already mobile friendly. To be sure though, open it up in a mobile device. Is it easy to read and easy to navigate?
- Popularity: Is the site popular in it’s niche? As in, are other relevant sites referencing (and linking to) your site? If yes, how many of them are?
A good strategy to get other site owners to link to you is to offer to write a few guest posts for them. If your site meets the previous two points (relevancy and a great user experience), getting site owners to link to you is a whole lot easier.
If you have an incredibly hard time with this, go with your next best option: Private Blog Networks (PBNs). I talk about them more extensively in my “Do PBNs Still Work Today?” post, but the long and short of it is: If you use someone else’s network, be extra careful.
The one I keep going back to is Jon Haver‘s (check it out here).
You will also want your content getting shared on social media. For that to happen, you will need to make it easy for your visitors to share it. Assuming it is excellent content and the site provided a fantastic user experience, the chances of your readers liking and sharing your content drastically increase when you make it super easy for them to do. So make sure you use one of the many plugins out there that add social buttons on top or beneath each of your posts (assuming you use WordPress). The plugin I use on this blog is called ShareThis
It’s true. A lot of the “how” in SEO has changed, but the “what” never changed. As in, you used to be able to meet the requirements for each of the points above differently, but the core principle of each never changed. And it likely never will change.
This is what I love about SEO. Once you truly get it, it is sooo simple. No tricks or secrets, just basic common sense 🙂
3. Stay Focused on Long Term SEO
SEO is one of those things you have to commit to. Especially if you’re counting on the majority of your traffic coming from search engines.
I used to approach SEO as “let’s see what I can do” and I would get lucky (occasionally).
When I changed my mindset to “It’s not a matter if it will rank, it’s a matter of when”, I started looking at SEO as something you do strategically and not something you do in hopes to get lucky with.
If I wanted to get lucky, I would play the lottery, not SEO 🙂
I will outwork and outlast my competition until I outrank them. I am not hoping to outrank them, but am busting my behind to make it happen one way or another.
If a keyword is worth ranking for, it is worth ranking for long term (generally speaking). So do it properly or the odds will always be against you. Give the search engines what they want to see instead of trying to force them to show what you want them to show.
To do that, focus on strategies that have worked all along: Be relevant, provide a good user experience, and find a way to become popular in your niche.
Commit to making it happen – no matter how long it takes. Go the extra mile and know – if you follow each step consistantly – it is only a matter of time before you dominate your niche.