Some SEOs are idealistic others are unrealistic and some are both.
The Panda updates have done a lot for the industry but there is still a shortfall – there are many websites that utilise ‘grey-hat’ techniques that still rank above competing websites that refuse to employ anything other than the whitest of ‘white-hat’ techniques.
Sadly, great content isn’t quite the trump card it should be… yet.
Less sophisticated linkbuilding tactics still yield results but quality, authority and user experience will be the pillars of search results in the future. Therefore it’s important to devise a strategy that blends the two ‘hat types’ together.
The techniques work in sync; one in effect cancels out the undesirable qualities of the other whilst accentuating the respective strengths.
SEO is like building a house
If you’re building a house – you want to see progress in the short term but you also want the thing to be standing in 20 or even 200 years time which means you have to balance making the quick wins with building a solid foundation that’s unlikely to crumble at the first sign of bad weather.
Step 1 – The Blueprint
Just like building a house, when it comes to SEO you need a plan.
- Keyword Research – helping you to understand your ‘building materials’.
- Website planning – map out your house…structure, content strategy, promotional strategy
Step 2 – The Foundations
- Branding – fundamentally understand what you’re ‘selling’, cultivate a story and a persona that will last you years into the future.
- Technical aspect – clean coding, fast loading, no 404s, user friendly navigation etc.
- Fundamentals of a quality website – get into Google’s mindset.
Step 3 – The Brickwork
- High-quality content – content will be the building blocks of your website, create content cornerstones too that will support the rest of the structure.
- Social Media Marketing – social building blocks support the cornerstones and make up the rest of the wall.
- Strategic linkbuilding – the mortar that holds the whole structure together…guest posting, linkbait and other forms of creative link encouragement.
You never want a weak supporting wall i.e. skimping on the brickwork and heading straight for the insulation (see below) – Google has a tendency to unleash its wrecking ball once in a while so don’t leave yourself open to being destroyed in one hit.
Step 4 – The Insulation
This layer of your building/website offers extra warmth or fuel for your site’s search engine performance but if the winter gets cold and Google bites back, at least the house will still be standing. If you have a balanced link profile you might even see multiple winters through snug and warm towards the top of the search results.
Your insulation might comprise some of the following less-sophisticated linkbuilding tactics:
- Directory submissions
- Social bookmarking (see Does social bookmarking still work?)
- Article submissions
- Press release submissions
All are valid forms of insulation provided you commit to a minimum quality standard. For example, you might build a mix of themed and general directory submissions to ensure you mix relevance with link volume. The same goes for social bookmarking, as general submissions can be used to beef-up a link profile and themed/niche might provide a relevant link with some traffic.
Putting out high-end content on an article directory is damaging to ROI, your very best content belongs on your website or as a good guest post so have moderate-quality content produced specifically for use in these kinds of activities.
Be sure to balance your profile because you can always inject extra insulation in the future if for whatever reason a certain link type isn’t as effective as it once was.
Why optimise a site in this way?
- For your own sanity – you won’t fear the next Google update. This way you are anticipating the future of search and you’re prepared for it.
- Long term business stability – building a house on sand will come back to bite you one day.
- It can be a powerful mix – as standalone strategies, each has a downside…but together they make an exciting, potent hybrid.
- Build solid foundations, don’t build on sand – create a website and a promotional strategy that will stand the test of time
- Build in fail-safes – don’t over expose to a particular tactic, link type, anchor text etc
- Commit to a minimum quality standard (even for low-rent linkbuilding) - otherwise you’re asking for trouble.
- Focus on results rather than which hat you’re wearing – balance longevity with quick wins
- I’ve no real idea how to build a house
(Note: This isn’t supposed to be a white-hat SEO/grey-hat SEO type post because I really don’t subscribe to the whole ‘hats’ debate, I’m just trying to describe the techniques in a way that is familiar to most people. If you’re interested which ‘hat’ Skyrocketeers wear, well, we concentrate on what works for the client. We always include strict safety measures to protect the client and factor in their attitude towards risk as well as our knowledge of the industry so the mythical hat is irrelevant.)