Back in 2005-2006, keyword stuffing, shady link building, and other seemingly risky ways, that you can’t even think of right now, worked like a charm. Did you happen to think, what would happen to my site once Google takes action? Many didn’t. That’s why the internet is flooded with ‘My site got hit by Panda/Penguin‘ articles.
That’s why, if you care about a site that you’re ranking currently by gaming the system, now might be the right time to move away from high-risk SEO practices to SEO strategies that are guaranteed to be safe, and will matter more than anything else in the near future.
Here are a few effective, future-proof SEO techniques that you can start leveraging, as soon as you finish reading this article.
#1 – Ways of Getting Backlinks
How your site gets its share of backlinks will very much matter in future. Here’s a few types of backlinks that still work, if gained smartly:
- Web 2.0 links. It basically means creating numerous web 2.0 properties, like sites on WordPress.com, Tumblr, Blogger, etc. with often the only goal being building links to your primary site(s).
There are Tier 1 sites [that link directly to your main site(s)], Tier 2 sites (that link to your Tier 1 sites, giving them more power), and it goes on…
- Press Release links. Google recently updated their ‘webmaster guideline page about link schemes to include this in the ‘unnatural links that violate our guidelines’ section:
Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.
- Low-quality guest posting. Guest posting only for the sake of gaining backlinks to your own site. When you do guest post, make sure your guest posts are actually valuable. Here’s what Matt Cutts thinks about guest blogging for links:
If you care about the future of your site, don’t leverage these to build links. Instead, you can rely on:
- Unique content that attracts natural editorial links. You can check out Awesome Web Design’s writing tips for SEO.
- High-quality guest posting. Use of varied anchor texts.
However, there’s still a slight risk if you do too much guest posting. As with rel=author, Google can easily track that you’re linking to your own web properties again and again from the sites you’re guest blogging on.
- Relationships with industry leaders. If you maintain good relationships with the leaders in your industry who own websites, it’s easier to get links from them once you produce high-quality content. And you know what? Naturally given editorial links tend already to be the most powerful ones, so it’s logical to speculate that their values will remain high in the foreseeable future.
- Site network, consisting of valuable, content-rich sites.
#2 – Author Rank
How many times have you heard of the term ‘AuthorRank’ in the last few months? According to Moz’s Search Engine Ranking Factors 2013, a lot of Search Engine experts think that Google will soon be giving AuthorRank significantly more importance in its algorithms.
The thing with AuthorRank is, it’s tied with creating quality content. If you create great contents, no matter on which site, that get read and loved by people, get shared in social media sites by influencers, attract authority links, your AuthorRank will be improved. So, next time when you post on a relatively unknown site, your post will automatically have an edge in SERPs because of your high AuthorRank.
Various claims have been made, suggesting that Google doesn’t use AuthorRank yet. But, Matt Cutts has suggested in an interview that Google is indeed interested in identifying authoritative authors. So, now might be a good time for you to focus on creating awesome contents and linking them to your Google+ profile using rel=author.
#3 – Structured Data
Structured data might be really important in future for structured data specific searches. Structured data helps Google and other search engines to understand more about site contents, and return rich snippets in SERPs.
Rich snippets necessarily mean — “detailed information intended to help users with specific queries. For example, the snippet for a restaurant might show the average review and price range”.
For certain queries, Google has started showing video screenshots, ratings, date, author information, product price, and a variety of other things directly in SERPs. To leverage rich snippets, you should upgrade to a theme or site design that has native support for schema.org or similar microdata, and implement Open Graph tags in your site for better social media visibility.
#4 – Co-citations / Co-occurences
I’ve written about this before. Co-citations or co-occurences refer to the text surrounding the links that point at your site.
Rand Fishkin has suggested that Google can move away from an anchor text only model to an anchor text, co-occurence model to determine link relevance. Generally, if your site’s about academic books, you’d want the links pointing at your site to be surrounded by academical related keywords.
Here’s how it can be leveraged on a blog network such as Technorati:
So, stuff like this made think “WTF Google!” and won’t likely work in future:
#5 – On-page User Activity
Google has started giving more importance to certain on-page factors — such as a webpage’s perceived value to the users and on-page user actions, which are directly dependent on that.
If many organic visitors bounce off your pages back to the SERPs, that’s not a good thing for your site. In any way, if your site’s bounce rate is too high (over 80%), then it might be a good time for you to re-evaluate your design, perhaps by taking the help of a web design agency, or analyse how good your site contents actually are.
With user-satisfaction being an actual ranking factor, if your site doesn’t satisfy most of the organic visitors, chances are it won’t satisfy Google either. So, don’t be surprised to see your site contents vanish off the first few pages of Google one fine morning.
#6 – Social Media Influence
Social media signals (likes, tweets, g+’s) can actually affect your site’s search engine rankings. However, like links, Google is likely to take a look at the social metrics of a page more qualitatively, than quantitatively.
In easier words, what matters or will mater is who shares/likes/favourites/+1’s your content.
A share by a social media influencer with thousands of real followers will obviously be more important to search engines than a share by a new user with a few followers, about whom you can’t even be sure whether the account is real or fake.
#7 – Site Thickness
I’ve used thick primarily as an antonym of thin. You probably have read about sites that are tipped as ‘thin sites’. These are mainly affiliate sites or similar ones with monetary goals. Google, Bing, and other search engines have been actively penalizing thin sites filled with hundreds of affiliate links.
Here’s a co-relation between content length and search engine rankings.
So, in short, if you plan to create an affiliate site, be ready to fill it with useful, valuable, detailed content before you think about search engine rankings.
A great example of an affiliate site is WPBeginner. It’s a thick affiliate site. It’s filled with thousands of useful posts, tutorials, guides, plugins, themes and other WordPress goodies. It’s also a community-based site, giving importance to its visitors. Yet, it makes money through affiliate marketing. As a beginner looking to make money from blogging, that’s the kind of site you should aim to create if you wish to utilize affiliate marketing as the primary monetary medium.
If you want your site to climb through the top ranking spots in the time to come, give these effective techniques a try.
It’s important that you don’t make any crucial mistakes with your serious site that tons of webmasters made back in the early 2000-s. Google is getting smarter everyday, so you too have to be creative about the SEO of your site.
A good thing about SEO is that anyone with a working brain can predict the future of it.
How do you think SEO will shape up in future?