October 13, 2016
If there is one thing that is predictable about the SEO industry, it is constant and frequent change. And there have certainly been a fair number of changes in SEO this year. They may not be as revolutionary as the Penalty updates from a couple of years ago, but they are significant enough that SEO professionals (at least the ones who know what they are doing) have had to adjust their strategies.
But here’s the thing: There is no college or university for SEO. No regulatory body or organization. In fact, the idea of having search engine optimization courses or degrees at educational institutions is not pragmatic at all because by the time the curriculum comes out, there would be a whole new algorithm in effect.
So we have a highly lucrative industry full of opinions and subjective information. How, then, are we to determine which information is valid and which isn’t. The answers are simple.
Testing and Results
The only way we can know with absolute certainly if something is working more or less in SEO is by testing it. And it needs to be isolated testing. This makes it even more difficult because of the number of factors involved in the algorithm. This is one of the reasons why the SEO community needs to work together. Testing of this scale is nearly impossible to accomplish by a single company or agency.
The lack of proper testing leads to misinformation which leads to outdated and ineffective SEO strategies that will ultimately harm your website (in some cases, irreversibly) more than anything. With that said, let’s talk about some SEO trends that not many people are talking about. Highly effective and seldom discussed, here is your unfair advantage:
Link Quality Vs Quantity: It’s not just about how many links you have any more
It was not too many years ago that Google gauged the authority and relevance of a website purely by the number of incoming links. Think of this as the number of people endorsing you for your services or products. This is no longer the case. Google now goes by the authority of the websites that are linking to you AND if that authority is in the same industry as yours.
It’s rather smart of Google if you think about it. Quality is much harder to manipulate than quantity. By putting more weight into the quality and relevance of backlinks and by delaying the effects of those links, Google has made a whole lot of people believe that SEO does not work anymore and many of these people even leave the industry. This could not be further from the truth! Speaking of ranking delays, this brings us to the next hurdle that can be an SEO professional’s undoing.
Ranking Delays and the Price of Impatience
The days of quick ranking are long gone. Movement in the search engines is now slower than it has ever been. In simple terms, this is because there is so much good stuff on the first page already. Ultimately, this is great for the user because Google is trying to make sure that everything you see on the first page is established authority websites that have been around for a while and are not ‘churn and burn’ sites. Even if you do everything perfectly, you will still have to wait a certain amount of time before you see significant results. And once you get to the first page, movement can be even slower up that page.
Think about it like this: When you proactively work on your website’s rankings, Google is going to test you. It is going to keep you in the same ranking zone for a while. It could be the bottom of the first page or the second page. What are you going to do? Are you going to flinch? Or are you going to stand your ground and keep at it?
It seems Google’s algorithm has finally figured out how jealousy works. If you think that you can knock off a competitor with malicious spammy links, consider spending your time and resources elsewhere.
Everyone wants to be at the top. So if a website is established on the first page and it suddenly starts getting an influx of spammy links, it is very likely that Google will classify them as such and not let their rankings be affected at all. A website on the first page can get away with a lot more than ever before.
Almost all of Google’s updates for its search engine are geared toward improving user experience. This is not going to change anytime soon. So it only makes sense that if a multitude of users are not liking the page they clicked on and are leaving almost as soon as they get there, that page or URL is going to be penalized. Not necessarily a penalty that sticks, but it will drop in rankings for the keywords that those users searched.
The lesson here is to make sure that your pages are built to be interaction-friendly. Videos and blogs are a great way to do this.
Abrar is the owner of a local digital marketing agency based in Melbourne, Australia that specializes in search engine optimization. With the ever-changing landscape of SEO, Abrar has chosen to build an agency centered around proof of concept i.e. verifiable Google rankings.