With Panda having swept through the SERPs again, and the big holiday marketing season on the horizon you may be thinking about the best ways you can use SEO tactics this year to give your business a boost both in the SERPs and in general. But just what are the best practices to follow any more?
SEO changes all the time, most people have realized that by now. And yet there are still some old habits that die hard, SEO tactics that worked a few years ago – sometimes – are now little more than a complete waste of your precious time and may actually damage your site in terms of its reputation with the search engines. Just in time for the busiest promotional season of the year for retailers here is an up to the minute look at just what is NOT working anymore.
Article Marketing Anywhere
Although Google’s Matt Cutts has been warning for well over a year now that article marketing – especially the placement of articles on sites like Ezines – may harm your site in terms of the SERPS and certainly won’t help it, some people still insist on making article marketing a part of their SEO plan.
Put simply, just don’t. You do need to make content marketing a part of any online marketing strategy but all of your great content pieces should be posted only to your website or your blog. You can then make use of social media and social bookmarking to help send additional traffic to it but all roads should always lead directly back to you, not to some shady article site.
Worrying Endlessly About Your ‘Rank’
Some people create content based upon the recommendations of a ‘rank checking’ tool that will (it claims) tell them just what keywords they should be using in order to increase their SERPs positions. Once they have (often awkwardly) jammed these keywords into their content they then keep going back to the tool, obsessively checking where they ‘rank’ for those keywords. There is however a very good reason that Google killed off their Keyword tool well over a year ago; they don’t work anymore.
There was a time, a couple of years ago, when these ranking tools could give you a decent snapshot of just how well your site was performing for certain keywords. Those days are gone now. Why? There are a number of reasons. A users search is now subject to all kinds of variables that mean no two users searches will ever be the same. The biggest include:
Personal Search History: A user’s search results page will vary depending on what websites they have visited in the past.
Geography: Google will show different SERPs depending on the current location of an individual and where they live.
Social Media Influence: If a user is signed into a Google account when searching, which many are, results that have good social signals from a user’s contacts, especially from Google’s own G+, will often be given preference.
Device: SERPs vary depending on the device being used to search.
All of this means that your site may rank fourth on page one for one user and page three for another. So does that mean you should stop caring about keywords and rank? Yes and no. You do still need to include target keywords on your site and in your content in order for search bots to better categorize it but as has been mentioned often in the past by people like Matt Cutts once or twice per piece is enough and the flow must be natural. And as ranking cannot be finitely determined anymore keep an eye on it (by performing a few searches yourself, from different devices) and concentrate more of your energies on the quality and relevance your all important content instead.
Ignoring Social Signals
These days most people are savvy enough to have plenty of social sharing tools on their website and on their blog but once there many people do not actually pay too much attention to what all of their social media activities mean to their bottom line or who the people sharing their content are.
Even if you are not paying attention to these social signals, Google most certainly is. Personalized results are more and more common in web-searches and one of the things that these algorithms pick up on are the social sharing activities of Internet users.
Check just who is liking and tweeting your content. Are you reaching your target audience? Are people you were not expecting to liking your content? What types of content attracts the best responses? Taking the time to get into the habit of checking these things now may make a big difference to the success of your holiday campaigns.