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Update: You Need More Than SEO to Compete

May 8, 2012 · 17 comments

in SEO

More Than SEO to CompeteSearch engine optimization used to be so easy. It seems like just a couple of years ago you could just plug in some keywords you got from Google Keyword Tools, get some low quality links, and you would be ranking in no time. That is not the case anymore.

The recent Penguin/Panda updates have not been greeted too kindly by most in the internet marketing industry. Many believe that Google and Matt Cutts, Google’s head of web spam, is trying to manipulate search engine results and have contradicted many of the original commandments that they previously created.

That is most certainly not the case. Google, and Bing to some extent, are trying to make the best possible products for their users. There are trying to return each search result with the most relevant possible web page. They are not going to allow a websites offering sub-par products or services to rank ahead of tried and true companies that could genuinely be of benefit to customers. As much as I hate to say it, 80% of SEO is make the internet and search engines WORSE.

The recent update to the Google algorithm is trying to combat something that we have been adamantly working on for our clients for 2 years. Using the same anchor text for all of your out-bound links is not only obviously unnatural but is extremely easy for the web crawlers to pick out. Using various text in your link will not only help your site in the eyes of Google but also will help you organic keyword spread. The general rule is having  a maximum of 55% of your links using the same anchor text.

Rules to Live By

It is pretty easy to see what the search engines want, and have wanted for some time. They are looking for natural linking sites with quality content. Focus on what it is that you do. Do not just go after the keywords with the most traffic. If you sell cakes, do not include cupcakes in your title tag just because you HOPE it will send addition traffic. Even if it does, traffic that arrive for cupcakes will  increase your bounce rate.

I always refer clients to what we call the Trinity of a successful website. Quality, Direction, and Simplicity.

Quality is self-explanatory. If you have a blog, you should never post articles due to the sake of quantity. Always think before publishing an article, “Would I share this?”. If the answer is no, go back and revise or start over. The more sharable your posts are, the more natural links you will receive, and the better your site will do in the SERPs.

If you have an eCommerce site, focus on quality descriptions of each item. Is it going to take longer? Yes. But you will reap the benefits 10 fold.

Direction is key for any site. Users should be able to know how to navigate to the important sections of your site without even thinking. Large BUY NOW buttons, easy to read menus, and thoughtful navigation are key to optimizing your conversion rates and getting the most out of the traffic you receive.

Lastly, simplicity is important for customers and SEO. Make sure the search engines and potential customers know what you do and what they are there for. Nothing is worse than a site with five pop-ups, a chat window and 300 social media buttons on every page.

The moral of the story is don’t try to game the system. Provide great, clean information and do what it is that you do. As Google puts it “don’t be evil.”

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Shalu Sharma May 9, 2012 at 2:37 am

I agree, you are going to need more than SEO to stay afloat. Its going to be the battle of contents. Do you think its going to get more tougher?
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Corey Rab May 9, 2012 at 3:53 am

I don’t necessarily think it is going to get tougher, I just think I is going to take more thoughtful effort. Thinking about creating quality content first is always a good rule of thumb. Google is always going to catch on to those trying to cut corners and be malicious in the SEO world. Those providing great content and services are going to be the ones that succeed in the long run as Google and the other search engines continually update their search algorithms.

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Sylviane Nuccio May 9, 2012 at 4:27 am

Hi Corey,

To me almost any good post about SEO is a great post to read, because we can never know too much about it, especially me 🙂

I definitely think like you that Google’s main goal is to give their readers the most relevant result for their search and I so love it when you say that “80% of SEO is make the internet and search engines worse”. I really agree with that.

I like that what your describe here really makes sense and it’s so logic. After reading this I think that it’s really easy to never have any problem with Google.
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Amrik May 9, 2012 at 9:05 pm

I have noticed, that a lot of insurance sites had a shake-up.
Some times i not am sure if all the Google up-dates, are hitting and infecting the right sites.

I think Google is launching too many algo updates, and is not taking care of the “good ones”.
I still see a lot of spammers ranking after these updates ranking number one…
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marquita herald May 10, 2012 at 6:07 am

Well said – it’s always a balancing act of some kind, huh? I can certainly see where some niches and business models would have a tougher time than others. No one can really prepare you for all of the work that goes into building a business online – you have to jump in and experience it first hand and hope that you end up loving the process!
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Corey Rab May 10, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Exactly Marquita! Sometimes jumping in head first can be the best way to learn. And yes, some niches do have a harder time. In my experience, local small businesses can sometimes be a challenge. But there are other routes you can take with those. And the more challenging the project the bigger the reward.

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Lynn Brown May 12, 2012 at 5:04 am

I am very happy to finally see the search engines take notice of what consumers and online folks have always wanted …. good websites that don’t hide or distort anything. I agree with you Corey…. ‘don’t try to game the system’. Providing good content, products and services and making it easy for your audience to navigate and find the information they came for in the first place is a giant step for maintaining a much better internet experience.

Internet marketers, online business owners and entrepreneurs should know or learn how to engage with their audience and not talk at them. With each new social platform coming online it tells us exactly what people are wanting. And a big part of our success as online entrepreneurs is to know our audience and provide what they want.
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Herbert May 12, 2012 at 4:58 pm

SEO is not the only solution to stay on top, there are many factors to consider though it’s one good method but we should not rely on it all the time
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Raena Lynn May 13, 2012 at 1:52 am

Hi CoreyRab,

I thoroughly enjoyed this article on “Update: You Need More Than SEO to Compete.” I like the concept of creating your blog using the “Trinity of a successful website which is Quality, Direction, and Simplicity.” As long as these rules are followed, there is no reason to fear any changes that Google makes. Organic is the way to go and trying to manipulate your articles to lure the search engines, in my opinion is not going to generate the best results. On the other hand, we shouldn’t ignore keywords or optimizing. Choose wisely, write authentically and you will attract quality traffic that is seeking quality content.

I agree with what Lynn Brown says, “Providing good content, products and services and making it easy for your audience to navigate and find the information they came for in the first place is a giant step for maintaining a much better internet experience.” I love that summary!

Raena Lynn
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David Merrill May 13, 2012 at 8:04 am

I agree with your advice, Corey.
I get tired of hearing people trash Google like it’s their enemy. Without Google and Bing, we’re not likely to get ANY traffic, unless it’s within a closed community.
As you suggest, the big SE’s, chiefly Google, only wants what we SHOULD want… happy readers who receive high quality, relevant sites for their search and browse efforts.
If readers are repeatedly disappointed with poor results, spam sites and mediocre content (at best)… they’ll stop using the SE’s. Then where will all your conniving and machinations lead you?
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Zena Wehbe May 14, 2012 at 3:39 pm

I like.
The minute I read your first paragraph I got straight to work. I’m more of a content focused person and have no background in internet marketing, so even some of the basic things you mentioned on here were so incredibly useful. It even made me adjust some of my blog tags! As a content focused person, it makes me glad that search engines are putting a bigger weight on quality. But my question is, I still didn’t understand how can they detect quality more than quantity?? Can you explain that?
Thanks for sharing!
Best,
Zena
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Corey Rab May 14, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Hi Zena, I think you are correct in your assumption that quality is a difficult metric to quantify. However, I think that if you write with your audience in mind, rather that the search engines, you should not have much to worry about.

A lot of the time websites get the back lash of Google updates because they have unnatural looking content which is trying to stuff keyword density (not a metric anymore) or use the same anchor links for each inbound link (Penguin update). Just focus on your target audience and you should be in great shape.
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Amit Shaw May 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Hey CoreyRab Thanks for this article. I am agree with Herbert. We should not rely on SEO only. There are too many factors to cosider too.
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Steve Vernon May 14, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Nicely put, Corey. I especially like how you’ve laid out the “Trinity”, and you’re absolutely right . . . it all starts with quality content. How many of us have been led to sites that were at the top of Google searches and ended up being nothing more than sales pitches and spam! Thank goodness for the way Google stays on top of this stuff!
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Yorinda May 19, 2012 at 5:57 am

Hi Corey,

thank you for your great information.
The points you are making about quality content make sense – no point in stuffing keywords into your text just because of SEO.
Your suggestion about making 55% of your links the same anchor text made me realize that I need to study up on the link and anchor text issue, how to use anchor text with links. Maybe I have been doing it and didn’t know it.

Much appreciated!
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Scott Hopkins May 19, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Penguin/Panda updates are enough to remind all of us to stop writing directly for search engines. If you have a model that is not a junk made for Adsense website that you want to live beyond a tiny tiny tiny niche and something you are proud of that you wish to work with long term than SEO is not the most important factor.

I have discovered this first hand by trying to write for Google. Guess what!? It works! I saw many of my posts and pages front and center for the keywords I was targeting. I was starting to make money but before long, I was pushed aside by Google and removed from the SERPs for keywords, seeing my visitors and earnings fall dramatically. The reason? Penalization for too much optimization. I was not doing black hat or anything questionable, just writing the perfect anchor text each time, writing very similar articles linking back, title tags that matched the keyword tool, etc.

My advice is to write quality and write for social. Readers are going to appreciate it and it’s more likely to get shared the way you want it to. If it’s being picked up because it is quality content and because it is helpful, useful, insightful or entertaining then mission accomplished. A payday should be in store as well.
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