SEO Tactics – Which Ones Work?
If you are unfamiliar with the term SEO it stands for Search Engine Optimization. If part of your business is promoting your site on the web then you already know what it means. If not then you need to catch up. I read a great article titled “5 Outdated SEO Tactics – and 5 Alternatives” by Ken Lyons who wrote it for Website Magazine. I would like to take a moment to summarize it and educate some clients and friends on this topic.
Just five years ago SEO specialists were using all sorts of tactics to try to get results. A good result was your webpage link showing up on the first page, if not the at the top when searching for a keyword related to your business. Things have changed and search engines are smarter. Google’s “algorithm” is a big Harry Potter magic box. No one really know what’s in it or how pages are ranked, but they have a pretty good idea what does work and what doesn’t.
Making Your Content Count
Lyons’ article begins with a term called “keyword stuffing.” Previously SEO magicians found out that if they bombarded a page with the keywords it would rank better when it ranked for those keywords. Effectively they would place these keywords in the body of the document and have the text color match the background color. If you are just barely following along, that means that the text would be virtually invisible to the reader of the page but not to the spiders that crawl the page. Now search engines are smarter so doing that will not only not have any effect you site may actually get penalized for doing such underhanded things.
The solution is to use those keywords you want be prevalent on that page but in content that makes sense. Write a story, product descriptions or include those words in your “about us” section. Just be true and you can’t go wrong.
Spamming Comments On Blogs
This is really my first blog so I am only now aware of these techniques. For businesses that have blogs, reviews or some way for the customer to engage with your business you need to watch for these kind of effects. I have only heard in passing that there are software packages for SEO scientists that do exactly this! Be cautious. That is another way that can get you in big trouble with search engine giants. Make sure that the people you hired for your SEO agenda do not succumb to this method.
The reality is, as Lyons’ mentioned, Google values blog comments etc. as very low on the SEO scale. In fact, the words he used was “Google introduced a nofollow link tags” which effectively tells Google spiders not to pay any attention to those links in the comments of blogs. So, as far as Google is concerned it doesn’t doesn’t even matter.
The Search Engine Submission Racket
If you hired or a looking to hire a SEO specialist and part of their package is to “submit to search engines” – start running. Google’s ability to discover your pages and or update your pages in search engines is so far advanced from years ago that there is no longer a need to submit to search engines directly.
If you do want to speed up the process (the little that you can) the article suggests that you can make your updated page get discovered quicker if you submit your link through a social media route. Sure enough I did this through twitter and bingo! Google crawled it and I had it flagged as a Google alert. Amazing!
<META> Tags – Do They Work?
This is a great question. Do they work? Previously, part of making sure you rank for your selected keywords is putting those keywords in the <HEAD> of your webpage. Regardless you still need META tags. The tags that describe your site are very important as well as other META tags. You really can’t ignore that control. Lyons states that Google is on record with saying that META tags with respect to KEYWORDS just do not work. Again, META tags with respect to KEYWORDS do not work. That felt good to say it twice.
Now, this just increases the value of blogs on your site. Remember that categorizing your posts and tagging your posts will help with search ability. Thank you to Zach Posner, our teacher at USC for Annenberg’s Online Communities Masters Program (APOC) – Web Technology for fixing my blog and pointing out that file names matter too. Check out the URL for the story your reading right now “SEO- Tactics-which-ones-work.” What could be more perfect.
Link to Me Please
Just like in business, word of mouth means a lot in SEO as well. If there is a well respected blog or site that mentions your Web site, you can bet that it will be worth a lot of points to Google and affect your ratings. Again, be careful. Getting involved in SEO techniques that put your links in link farms could mean bad news. Google doesn’t like it when you link to people in bad “neighborhoods” so always be on top of what your SEO providers are doing for you.
As the article by Lyons suggests, getting testimonials or vendors you work with you mention you via links in creative ways will do the same trick. Remember to be sincere, upfront and transparent in what you are asking for from your link-listers. Don’t be afraid to ask to name the link (i.e. Christopher Bazin instead of click here) either.
Hopefully this lays our the SEO street along with a good guide on avoiding the basic potholes. These techniques work. If you are confused on how to implement them, feel free to send me a comment and I will respond. Thank you again Ken Lyons for that great article in Website Magazine.