It can feel like SEO rules change on an hourly basis, and sometimes they do. It’s necessary to stay in the information loop if you have a website you want people to visit on a regular basis. SEO is how you get them there, and how you implement SEO must change to reflect the latest Google rules.
Viral content isn’t as valuable as you think
Even with millions of pieces of content published every day, unique content stands out. Viral content is incredibly rare, and usually random. You aren’t going to be able to predict what will capture the attention of the people of the interwebs, and devoting resources to create the next big thing is probably not the best use of your SEO dollars.
Don’t get me wrong. Viral content is great for country-wide or global businesses with a wide customer base, and some advertisers have a knack for hitting just the right notes to create viral commercial spots. The right kind of advertising can boost your business and help establish your brand in the minds of consumers. But for brick-and-mortar businesses with a local audience, chasing elusive viral content is a waste of time and money. If an SEO company promises you viral content, don’t hire them. You don’t want to deal with an SEO company who lies to make sales.
Bad SEO is bad for business
Have you ever seen an old western? Old as in it had to be redone in Technicolor to be in color, kind of old. Well, way back in the day bad guys wore black hats and good guys wore white hats. Some clever wordsmith in the wild west of the Internet decided that analogy should carry over, and the term Black Hat SEO became a thing.
Just as in movies, what determines bad practices over time. Black Hat SEO evolves as search engines (I’m looking at you Google) change the rules about what’s good, and what’s bad. Tactics that were once acceptable become toxic as Google works to block those seeking to game the system.
Here’s the good news. Google goals have not changed. As long as you understand that the end result of all these tweaks and upgrades is to deliver quality results to the end user, you have nothing to fear. Fill your website with quality content, link only to other quality sites, and stay on top of innovations (like mobile web), and you’re golden.
Duplicate content can hurt your SEO, but not always
Speaking of how black hat status changes over time, duplicate content isn’t as bad as it once was. As long as you use canonical tags when you republish content on your site, duplicate content isn’t as devastating for your ranking as you might imagine.
You should still report sites using your content without permission, but there is less need to worry about Google consequences.
Incoming links are not always good SEO
Incoming links are awesome and a great way to boost your ranking, right? Yes, mostly. Except when the place that is linking to you has some sort of authority issue. Questionable domains and sites unrelated to your industry can hurt your rank. Quality is far more important than quantity.
Everything must be relevant
The SEO Handbook from GoUp points out that everything you write or code on your website must be related to your website’s focus, or at least to the focus of the web page. Image descriptions, HTML tags, title, subheaders, and other page attributions should all be semantically related to the purpose of your website or the page itself.
You can be your own SEO expert
One of the biggest secrets in SEO is automation. Everything you need to know about your web traffic and customers can be accessed with data processing software simple enough for any novice to understand.
To be clear, someone with experience will be up on the latest trends and know more than you about how to fix problems. There is a learning curve, and SEO experts have already rounded the bend. But that doesn’t mean you have to hire someone to manage your SEO needs. You’ll just have to learn how to use the tools.
You must be mobile friendly
Have you recently looked around at a restaurant, doctor’s office, library, baseball game, or anywhere else humans gather? If you weren’t looking at your own mobile device and did happen to glance around, you would have noticed most people focused on their phones instead of talking to the other people around them. We won’t analyze what this means for society as a whole, but you do need to think about what it means for your website.
If your site is not mobile-friendly, and you won’t rank in mobile search results. All those people using Google on their phones won’t see your site. Tsk. All that potential business lost. Mobile search is the pinnacle of local SEO. Your site could be dominating the mobile SERPs, because most local businesses still don’t get it. Is it? What’s the point of worrying about SEO if you’re throwing away more than 60 percent of searches?