Creative Commons image by  NOGRAN s.r.o.

Creative Commons image by
NOGRAN s.r.o.

If you’ve been marketing your business online for a decade or more, your understanding of what makes good search engine optimization strategies might be less than up-to-date. Part of keeping your SEO where it should be is keeping up with the latest trends. Here are a few tips and hints that can get you out of the Dark Ages of Internet marketing (okay, really just into 2016 and beyond).

Keywords are not what they used to be.

You already know that content quality is important and that keyword-stuffing is very much out (right?).A� What you might not realize is that when Google sifts through your content, it’s not necessarily looking for keywords in their own right. Instead, it’s looking for your intent. That’s why if you Google, “greatest show in the world,” the search engine knows that chances are good you’re looking for the Ringling Circus, which is the “greatest show on earth.”

What this means for you is that while keyword research is helpful because it can steer you in the right direction, sticking to specific keyword phrases, particularly long-tail phrases, is not important. Make sure your content is well-written and focuses on the point you want to make, and it should be classified correctly in searches.

Link wheels are a big don’t.

Ten or so years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for SEO companies to recommend “link wheels.” These were websites built for the purpose of all linking to one another. For example, if you had a website where you sold cleaning products, you might develop one site about floor cleaners, which linked to a site about bathroom cleaners, which linked to a site about window-cleaning, which linked back to the floor cleaner site. These were sometimes complex designsA� if drawn out, creating figure eights, spokes, and other shapes in addition to (or instead of) a simple wheel, but the premise was the same: Manipulate linking to boost SEO.

Nowadays, this doesn’t work. First, Google catches onto this sort of thing and will penalize sites for doing this. Secondly, backlinking works best when the sites linking back are authoritative, and not just fake sites or sites built specifically for backlinking or link-wheeling purposes. If you were wondering whether building a link wheel would be a good strategy, it’s not. It was iffy a decade ago, and it’s definitely black-hat now.

Local SEO is a completely different animal.

Between a requirement for mobile-friendliness and changes to the layout, local SEO looks almost nothing like it did a decade ago. Think about it: Ten years ago, people weren’t using their smartphones to look for a “cake bakery near me,” like they are today. Keeping your Google My Business listing up to date and making sure that your site is optimized for mobile devices are two actions you can take right now to boost your local SEO rankings, if you haven’t done them already.

There are undoubtedly many other ways that today’s best SEO practices are not the same ones you had success with ten, or even five, years ago. If you aren’t sure where to start with your digital marketing and local search, contact Most Optimal for help.


Creative Commons image by medithIT (Flickr)

Creative Commons image by medithIT (Flickr)

Youa��ve probably heard that content is king when it comes to SEO. In a way, the adage is correct: Google looks for well-organized, engaging content that human readers find interesting and worth reading, linking to, and passing on. What if you dona��t have the time or the budget to create such content, however? It turns out you dona��t need to worry: You can still market your business and optimize your site for search engines (and for humans) without writing (or hiring someone to write) content. Here are some tips on how to do it.

Make Your Site Useful or Entertaining

There are tools and features that you can add to your website that dona��t need much, if any, content. Consider some of the sites that you use regularly. Amazon.com, for example, does not depend on content to bring in business. Neither does Google, Hotwire, eBay or many other sites. Now, you might not have the next superstar site like these listed, but you can take your cue from them and figure out a way to make your site appealing to people. Consider creating a forum where people can discuss topics pertaining to your service or product line, for example.

Make Your Site High-Quality

Consider websites that youa��ve been on that are appealing, even if you dona��t read their content. Chances are great that theya��re not only intuitive and easy to use, but the have features such as a responsive menu, an easy way to contact the company (most likely with a a�?contact usa�? form), an easy way to access reviews, and a format that is easy to see when using a mobile device. If you dona��t know how to do these things, ita��s important to hire someone who does. While you will need to make room in your budget, having a high-quality, responsive site is even more important than having good content, so make this a first priority.

Make Your Site Shine From the Back End

One of the most important facets of search engine optimization is not even visible from the main page of the site. This is the back-end SEO that only you and the other site administrators (and search engine crawlers) see. They include a title that has been carefully chosen, relevant meta tags and descriptions, good (and properly formatted) images and professional interlinking and, where applicable and appropriate, backlinking. This is another job that you might need to hire out, but once ita��s done, ita��s done, aside from minor tweaks, most of the time.

If you dona��t want to or cana��t add excellent content to your site, all hope is not lost when it comes to search engine optimization. While you might need to have a web developer or SEO specialist help you with your website, you wona��t have to worry about keeping content updated if you find another way to boost your rankings without writing articles or keeping up with a blog. Of course, these methods are also excellent in addition to having great content; ita��s not necessarily an either/or choice. Most Optimal can help you market your business, with or without content included, so contact us with any questions you may have.


Creative Commons image by Olga Berios

Creative Commons image by Olga Berios

Google has a way of keeping us guessing, and while there are definitely SEO practices that can boost your ranking with the search engine superstar, no one has actually a�?cracked the code” of the exact algorithm used. Still, there are some tips that anyone who knows anything about SEO will tell you if you ask. Recently, Andrey Lipattsev, the Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google Ireland, answered some questions about the top three characteristics that Google is looking for. They come as no surprise to those in the know, but here they are, in no particular order, for your consideration.

Content

Remember a few years ago, when a common catchphrase was a�?content is kinga�?? Well, it turns out that this is still a valid and large piece of the algorithm. If you have a web page that doesna��t actually give any information, is stuffed with irrelevant keywords, or is poorly written, Google is going to take notice and send you careening toward the recesses of the double-digit search result pages. So, what are the characteristics that your content should have? A few include:

  • Scannability and a clear, easy to read font.
  • Compelling. Include information that people will want to read and share.
  • Concision. Dona��t go on and on about nothing. At the same time, though, strive to keep your pages over 300 words.
  • Original. Plagiarism? Dona��t even think about it.
  • Accuracy. Make sure what youa��re including in your articles and blog posts is actually true and verifiable.

The takeaway here is to write for human readers and Google will soon follow.

RankBrain

Speaking of human readers, youa��ve probably been aware for some time that artificial intelligence is rapidly catching up to, and in some cases even surpassing, the brainpower of humans. RankBrain, Googlea��s AI system, is an important piece of the algorithm puzzle. You can take a look at what RankBrain is all about and how it works, on Search Engine Watch.

Backlinks

Sometimes considered a gray-hat SEO technique, making sure that other sites are linking to yours is actually important when it comes to ranking well on Google search results. The actual links are a good thing, if you handle it the right way. If reputable sites are linking to you, Google will assume that you have good, actionable, useful content. If you are posting your link as spam all over other peoplea��s blogs, however, ita��s not going to work. Here are some link-building strategies can can work for you.

Ita��s important to keep in mind that there is no simple formula for ranking well with Google. Even if you have solid backlinks, great content and a good rating on RankBrain, you still might not make it to the top of the first page of results. On the other hand, if you arena��t achieving these basics, then ita��s almost definite that you arena��t going to find the success you are looking for. Google uses the best tools available to put engaging, actionable sites toward the top of the results page. Ita��s in your best interest to write for human readers, incorporate some SEO techniques into your site, and contact a reputable SEO company, such as Most Optimal, to help you get the best results out of your efforts.