Millions of people around the world are constantly trying to adapt to the ongoing changes that search engines are making to their ranking algorithms to ensure that their sites stay on top. The result is a digital stampede of new strategies and marketing tactics whenever a company like Google makes the slightest modification.
The simple fact remains that search engines will never stop evolving until they can reach their ultimate goal, which I’ll get back to later in this guide. Instead of trying to scramble to keep pace every step of the way, the real key to long-term success as an internet marketer of any kind is to adopt an SEO strategy that will stand the test of time.
Search Engine Tunnel Vision
The big problem, especially for marketers that are exclusively affiliates for networks like Amazon, is the fact that they are after a quick buck, and this results in which I like to call “Search Engine Tunnel Vision”. I’m going to use Art as an example here to make this easy to understand. If you move into a new house and want to decorate it with some type of art, like a painting, what would you do?
Does it make more sense to go out and buy a painting that is ready to hang on your wall, or should you go to art school and make your own masterpiece? Hopefully I can just leave that as a rhetorical question without additional explanation.
The same thing goes when it comes to building websites and optimizing content for better search engine rankings.
There is no need to learn the ins-and-outs of how everything works to try to find a “secret”. This leads down a dark path of feeling a need to know about the details of every single Google update, and then going frantic to get everything done to your sites before Google slaps you (if they didn’t already). I call this tunnel vision because you become so focused on the minor details that it becomes easy to lose sight of what is really important: the visitor of your website!
Correcting The Problem
If you have tried to get sites ranked in the past and failed or had success but lost it, there is hope. First, completely forget everything you already know (just about SEO, you still need to know how to think and type).
Next, for people that already have a site that used to receive traffic and no longer does, you need to figure out what damage has already been done to your sites. As long as your site exists in the index of a search engine, there is still hope to recover. If Google completely dropped you, you may just want to move on. You can always appeal for reconsideration to be included in the index, but there would need to be a good reason on your end to want to even attempt that process.
You can find out if a site is in a search engine index with the “site:” command. Just type the word “site” into Google, followed by a colon (“:”), and then your domain name. This might give you something like “site:example.com”. As long as this search turns up results, you’re good to continue.
A Timeless Yet New-Age SEO Strategy
You’ve probably read a hundred SEO strategies before, but I guarantee you’ve never seen one exactly like this before. I’ve gone all out to reveal my personal techniques and approach to one of the most commonly rehashed topics in the marketing world. Whether you are about to make your first attempt at building a site or have done hundreds already, you’re about to learn a simple method that you can put into action that will stand the test of time.
The real key here is addressing what search engines really want – their real goal: to deliver relevant and useful results to their searchers. Once you understand and accept that simple point, you can then move on to build a site that will never become a victim of erratic search engine ranking updates.
My entire SEO strategy can be summarized with five words:
When you were a kid, did you ever take a magnifying glass into the sun to try to set something on fire? At first, the ray would shine down on the ground in a large circle but nothing would happen. Then, as you moved it closer to the ground, the circle got tighter causing smoke on something like a leaf, and then fire as the beam was concentrated into a single spot. The same thing goes when it comes to building websites and selecting a subject, which is known as a niche. The more targeted your niche, the more SEO “heat” you will generate.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a general rule of thumb when it comes to deciding how focused you’ll need to be to succeed. However, I like to think about it this way: could I ever write about every single topic within that niche? If the answer is “NO”, then I need to dig deeper.
The point here is that a major search engine, like Google or even Bing or Yahoo, has a broad reach of content indexed in their system. When someone performs a keyword search, they will look at that content and basically ask the question: “Who knows the most about this subject?”.
Some people think of this as “authority” and typically attribute it to major websites like Wikipedia that have knowledge on almost any topic. However, search engine authority can be gained at any level. If you are alone in trying to build the content for a website, you cannot expect yourself to be able to be the authority of everything, so you need to pick your battles wisely to win.
Once you have a niche picked out for your website, break that down into a few main categories and then list topics for each category. Try to list anything you can think about that you could write about in each category. This is another good exercise to ensure that you have not picked a niche that is too broad for you to cover.
Think about your niche, each category, and each topic within that category as being a separate page on a website. You want to be able to make a site that is 20 pages or more in size, but you also don’t want to be faced with a multi-hundred page site to build either.
Each page of your site will need content, which is basically an article. Once upon a time, marketers got really lazy and took this statement very literally. They figured that any content was good enough. Since it takes so long to write an article on just one topic, why even bother with doing it over and over again for an entire website?
If you syndicate content (use writing that already exists online), you are shooting yourself in the foot. You also want to avoid repeating the same content on multiple pages of your own website. This is known as duplicate content by search engines, but there is one big thing to understand here. You don’t have to completely avoid it, but you can’t completely depend on it either. Keep syndicated content to 33% or less on your website, only use duplicate content when necessary, and you’ll be fine.
Think about this from the perspective of a search engine for just a minute. They want to please their searchers by helping them find what they want. In most cases, this will even mean offering them some variety within their search parameters.
If you search the name of your own city, you wouldn’t just want to get a list of sites that have a bunch of historical data about the city, so search engines like Google might show you some recent news from the city, a government site or two, some information sites, a site for the local sports team, a site for the local newspaper, and even a personal blog from a resident. If you want more specific results, you have to provide more specific search keywords to get there.
Ultimately, search engines aren’t dumb programs anymore. Google has basically created an artificial intelligence that analyzes everything on the internet. Why do you think they even bothered with creating free sites of theirs like Gmail and even a social network? They want content, and more than anything else, they want it in it’s raw and natural form.
Google figured out that marketers have altered and will always alter the natural flow of language and the written word to try to influence search engine results, so they needed other massive sources that weren’t influenced by money. When you understand what type of power that really gives them, you can then begin to come up with a real world SEO strategy for your niches that will stand the test of time.
What you want to do is write about a subject in a natural manner instead of forced. For most marketers, they may not even know about a topic and simply try to wing it. It used to work 10 years ago, but that strategy will never fly again.
Instead of targeting a keyword phrase and repeating it over and over again (keyword spam), try to write “about” a keyword phrase. I’ll use the word “baby” as an example here. Think about some words that relate to that word but don’t contain that word at all: stroller, diaper, mommy, birth, car seat, and pacifier. These relational words are the ones you really want to focus on when you write about the main subject / keyword.
Once again, here are the two key points to take away: write unique content and do it using natural language and sentence structure.
It is not enough anymore to just write a couple hundred words about a topic to get search rankings. You need richness and length to your content these days to really get noticed.
One thing that many people do not understand is that they are not limited to just writing words. Pictures, audio, video, and more can be used to add richness to a page. Google detects all of these things and more, so they know when you cheap out by just slapping up an article that you outsourced for $5.
Don’t fake richness either. If you’re going to go through all of this trouble, just do it the right way. You’ll win over search engines and even the searchers once they find your site. A lot of people make the fatal mistake thinking that they only need to get people to their site to succeed and forget about keeping them there or even getting them to return in the future.
Old SEO recommendations used to call for 300-500 words of content. Even I used to say this a couple of years ago, despite being on the high end of that scale. However, I would now recommend 1,000 words as a bare minimum, but really, the sky is the limit and the more the merrier. Even Google can’t resist super content pages, no matter what type of algorithm update they are performing or what type of animal people are calling it.
Marketers have been using link building for decades to boost their search engine rankings, but they always considered quantity to be better than quality. The truth is that the opposite is true. I always stuck by that statement even before Google made updates to force that perspective upon the masses.
The key again here is to remember what search engines want. They like it when sites link to each other because it connects related content together to build more value, but it becomes negative when those links are simply there to influence rankings.
With that said, you want to build the reach of your site by linking it with other relational sites. Yes, incoming links are good, but outgoing links are good too as long as they are relevant. In fact, a minor amount of outgoing links is normal while a lack of them can make you easily stand out as a potential spam site. The same thing goes for links that you build to your site – they should be natural and relevant as well.
Once excellent way to build reach is with authority sites such as YouTube. You can build targeted video content there and get a link back to your site for each topic. This brings in traffic and SEO power at the same time, while also giving your potential visitors some trust in you before they even reach your site. This method isn’t viewed as spam because of the value it offers to visitors.
One last thing that is really out of your control in the grand scheme of things but still worth knowing about is age. The age of your domain name can definitely influence your ranking potential, so don’t give up if you don’t get success overnight.
Once your domain tops a year old and even additional years, you’ll notice a nice boost of power as you progress. This can really make things exciting when a forgotten about site comes to life after it’s first birthday.
One other thing to consider with age is whether your site is stagnant or not. Google is always going to favor freshly updated sites over those that haven’t been touched in a year, so be sure to continue to add new content to your sites as they get older.
Some people may feel like they need to update their sites every single day to stay fresh. Although it can certainly help to do that, you don’t have to kill yourself to earn and maintain good search rankings. Even one update every month or two will be enough to keep your site from being viewed as stagnant as it gets older.
Whether you are a marketing newbie or an expert, an affiliate marketer or a developer, I hope that my SEO strategies will offer you some insight on how you can come up with your own approach to building your next site in a manner that will maintain good search engine rankings for many years to come. Just remember that optimizing for search isn’t about tricking the system – it is about embracing it to make your sites the perfect result.