Business owners are constantly making decisions to improve their companies, and many are realizing that being at the top of search results is important. This is why hiring a Search Engine Optimization (SEO ) firm is an increasingly important step for successful businesses. Since businesses rationalize budgets based off of Return On Investment (ROI), this article will show that NOT all SEO strategies are the same. Typically most SEO strategies can be divided into two categories. Those that use their clients budget to gamble with Google or those that use it to actually invest in the company.
Gambling With Google
Growing up near Las Vegas, I would constantly see tourists who would go to the famous Vegas strip for the rush and thrill of trying to outsmart and outplay the casinos. There is a similar breed of these people in the SEO industry that are gambling their client's SEO dollars by trying to outsmart and beat Googles ranking algorithms in order to win big results of top rankings on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). I'm not saying that these tactics never work, but as you'll see with the following examples that these gambling tactics are becoming less and less effective.
Examples of Gambling With Google Tactics:
Keyword Stuffing - Excessively using your keywords in every part of your webpage. In the early days people would stuff the sides of their website with "Keyword" over and over and then change the words to match the background. What does the user see? A background. What did Google spiders see? A page that must be very relevant to "keyword" because it was listed a thousand times. Google has long since changed their algorithm to ignore such deception.
Buying exact match domains - This was a really popular tactic in 2010 where people would buy exact match domains, which were ranking well, and then have them redirect to their site. Google has begun devaluing the strength of a site solely on having an exact match domain.
Misspelled Words - This is when people create pages optimized for the misspelling of common words. Try Googling Weeding Dresses. Notice that Google now autocorrects and gives you "Wedding Dresses" but if you click on "search instead for weeding dresses" you'll find pages of now useless pages optimized for "Weeding Dresses", like this website.
Content Spinning - This is when people create crappy content and then change words with synonyms to make them "unique" so they can submit them dozens of times to different sites for links. This doesn't add any value but rather floods the internet with more crap.
Linking Networks- Along the same lines of content spinning, some SEO's will even go so far as to spin sites, which means they basically duplicate their site over and over and then link them to each other to make them seem more powerful. A lot of sites have been hurt by this lately because of Googles algorithm changes that have been devaluing link networks, which was the backbone of a lot of these sites link profiles.
Why I Don't Gamble With Google
- No Value - Walking around Las Vegas with a royal flush in my pocket is worthless. Likewise a lot of these tactics are designed to only fool Google into thinking that you have the best hand. These strategies really are just trying to bluff Google and are adding no value to the thing that powers Google, the user experience.
- Bust at any moment - You can definitely play the game for a few hands, but the Casino always wins. The same is true for Google: eventually they catch onto the tricks you're using to surge your ranking. Then Google penalizes your site and change their algorithm so it doesn't happen again.
- Always have to play - Since your SEO gambling strategy is not adding value to the user and is in constant threat of being busted by Googles algorithm you always have to be playing this game to try and stay ahead. Which means putting more time and money into a strategy that eventually will become worthless.
Investing In Your Company
Successful companies make sure to always invest a part of their profits back into itself to make sure that it can continue to be successful. This is the other style of SEO strategy, where the focus is on building up content and assets that add value to the site for the user.
Examples Of Investment SEO Tactics:
Helpful Resources - FAQ pages, industry glossary, and blog posts are great resources that can gain traffic from searchers with long search phrases or specific questions. EX: SEOmoz keeps a running list of all the Google Algorithm changes and has over 10,000 links to it from 270 different domains.
Tools - Providing tools that make your customer lives easier will keep them coming back again and again to the site. EX: A mortgage calculator which has over 22,000 links from 2,200 different domains.
How To and Tutorials - Educating your clients especially in a well done video or infographic builds trust with your clients and tends to get links from others who find the information helpful. EX: Article simply shows the 20 most expensive keywords in Adwords and has received 1,160 links from over 350 domains.
Why I Invest In the Company
- Strong Foundation - These type of strategies won't instantly rank your site but they also will not get penalized. They set the foundation of a strong link profile for your site to build on.
- Gain new investors - I know that I keep saying to "adds value", but the reason is because if you create assets that add value then you will attract people who will want to share, write, and report about your site. This attention ultimately starts driving traffic to your site from sources other than search engines. An example of this is the coverage that the Dollar Shave Commercial received from many authoritative sites.
- Can sleep easy at night - Building valuable assets that drive increased search, referral, and direct traffic that won't get penalized by Google allows you to not worry about your rankings and focus on other parts of your business.
I know that this is not a perfect analogy, but the bottom line is that the focus of a SEO strategy should be producing something of value to your customer that in turn generates valuable links and rankings for them. If you're wondering if your strategies are gambling with Google or investing in your company, ask yourself some of these questions and you'll start to see where you are.
Does this strategy build any value to my site?
Would someone in the industry find this helpful? Would they link to it?
Would Google penalize this?
Always look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments, so please share.