I recently had the pleasure of joining a discussion panel in West Palm Beach where the topic was WordPress & search engine optimization. The room had a variety of user levels and thus a variety of questions. Because I am constantly talking to my clients about SEO on their websites it was interesting to hear what other people were doing to try and get better rankings. Many times, the topic came back to how to get around the rules, and beat Google.
Today’s SEO Tricks are Tomorrows No No’s
For quite some time Google looked favorably on a website that had lots of inbound links. The more reputable the site that the link came from, the higher it would rank that inbound link. The idea was that the more quality inbound links you had, the higher your ranking (in addition to all of the other factors Google used) would be. The issue was that with enough quantity, the quality of the link was not that important. And so, link farms poppped up. Sites who’s only purpose in being was to offer in bound links to sites. And you could get hundreds if not thousands of inbound links if you paid an SEO company to set them up.
Very recently Google changed their algorithm and not only caught on to the scam, but it is now penalizing sites that use this technique. There are plenty of websites out there that deal with this topic exclusively so I will not get into it here, except to say that you need to stop thinking that you can fool Google.
In all of the attempts I have seen where people are trying to get higher rankings through manipulation, it inevitably ends badly. The old trick of white text on a white background, using meta keywords inaccurately, duplicating content throughout your site all became targets of Google and the site suffered for it.
Stick to the Basics
The topic of SEO is enormous and I would never be so dumb as to think I know it all, but here are just a few basics that should be followed:
- Format the HTML so that the H1, H2, H3, tags are all in the correct place. This goes for all of your HTML tags.
- Use a unique Page Title on every single page.
- Create content that is important to your customers. And don’t make it all fluff. These pages should have insiders tips, industry insights, how-to’s, etc. Anything that you have gained specific knowledge about because of your expertise, let it be known. Google will see that your site has valuable content (don’t ask how, they just do) and will promote you for it.
- Get reviews on Google Places. This is a new one that Google is placing a lot of importance on their user generated reviews. Register your business, and ask your customers for reviews. Next time someone says you did a great job, ask that they put it in writing on Google Places.
- Title your images appropriately and use ALT tags
- Create search engine friendly URL’s
- Create Youtube Videos about your specific area of interest. And, be sure to link to your website from the video and describe it properly. If the video is of no use to anyone and receives few views then don;t expect it to help. Try to make videos that are informational and will get views.
There are many many other ways to optimize your site, but these are the basics. Stick to good content and don’t try to trick Google. They know the tricks and they will penalize you for them.