You’ve heard it for years, how important SEO is for your company. Without it, your website and your brand will supposedly sink into the deep, dank depths of internet obscurity. But the big problem with SEO these days is figuring out exactly what to do. Go ahead and ask 10 SEO experts the best ways to get ranked in the first few pages of Google and you will get 10 different answers.
Up until recently, there were a number of practices that “experts” heralded as the best way to get you on page 1 of Google. Cramming your keywords into your web copy and meta data at every opportunity and throwing backlinks to your website up on any blog that would accept them are just a couple. Although these practices were considered “blackhat/webspam,” meaning unethical, many companies employed these practices to successfully increase organic search rankings for years.
And everything was fine and dandy until Google started to really penalize those practices. Matt Cutts of Google Webspam Team fame notes that these techniques don’t benefit users in the end, which is why they rolled out a major update that put many of these blackhat SEO companies in their place: Penguin. Originally called the “over optimization penalty,” this cute little Penguin is the content enforcer, a virtual police officer of the internet just waiting to throw you in the slammer for speeding your way past the good little law-abiding websites still using whitehat SEO.
The Penguin update is basically a big slap on the hand for everyone who was trying to fake the popularity of their websites with practices considered to be spam/bad SEO. Penalties have ranged from huge drops in organic rankings to being de-indexed or even blacklisted. This includes practices such as keyword stuffing, certain types of backlinking, and artificial or unnatural links.
So what does this silly flightless bird want from us?! Really, it’s just the basics: relevant and compelling content, with natural links and no spam. Lest we forget, “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” That last bit is the kicker: USEFUL. So while everyone out there keeps on coming up with new ways to cheat Google for higher rankings, Google is going to keep cracking down on those folks in an endless game of cat-and-mouse.
So make your links legitimate and useful, write high-quality content, participate in discussions on blogs and message boards with insightful tidbits, engage your social media community, and try to get noticed by industry experts with exciting events and announcements. SEO isn’t exactly dead, but it’s essential for businesses to take a step back and rethink how to go about it, because Google isn’t going to put up with con artists.
Sr. Marketing Executive, Soffront Software, Inc.