As 2014 is coming to a close, it's time for search marketers to scrutinize the strategies they have been using to determine if they are still viable. With a year's worth of Google algorithm changes and widely-publicized manual penalties as your guide, here are three SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategies you need to leave behind in 2014, plus good alternatives for the upcoming year.
1. Guest blogging for links.
Google never said that guest blogging as a whole was a bad thing. They did, however, say that guest blogging using low-quality content and terrible pitches [https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/guest-blogging] should not be relied upon as a viable link building strategy.
Guest blogging as a link building strategy includes, at best, posting mediocre content across as many blogs as you can get to accept the post. As a result of the abuse, many major publications are no longer accepting one-off or unsolicited content.
What they are accepting, on the other hand, is requests for regular contributors who submit high-quality content. For example, Search Engine Watch [http://searchenginewatch.com/page/write-for-sew] is looking for:
"Occasionally, we have openings for regular columnists who can commit to a monthly or bi-monthly schedule (sorry, but we don't publish "one-off" contributions). If you have a unique perspective, we encourage you to submit a sample column so we may evaluate whether you'd be a good fit for such a position when it opens up."
In their guidelines, they eliminate one-off guest bloggers and let contributors know that their submissions will be evaluated for quality.
The alternative is to strive to become a regular contributor for a few great sites in your industry. In the process, you'll build up your authority and still gain backlinks.
The criteria you should use to determine whether a site is worth the quality of the content being published by the site and the amount of engagement by its readers:
- Sites that publish high-quality content from reputable authors in your industry
- The content is receiving a high volume of social shares and comments
If it meets these requirements you've found a good place to become a contributor.
2. Low-quality content.
Speaking of low-quality content, if you are using it on your website, then you will need to stop. You're better off having a few pages with great content than thousands of pages with sub-par content. Google is still updating their Panda algorithm, which attacks the rankings of sites with low-quality content.
The alternative is, of course, is building your content marketing with high-quality content. Your goal for 2015 should be to replace the low-quality content on your website with high-quality content. Start with the pages that are getting the most traffic on your website - improve the content, and then move on to the next most popular page. Not only will you make Google happy, but you'll likely improve the time on page and bounce rate of each page that you improve.
3. Link buying.
Still buying backlinks? It's a strategy that goes against Webmaster guidelines for Google and Bing. As search algorithms get smarter, they will be more likely to identify websites that are purchasing links throughout the web.
The alternative to buying links is to invest the money into other SEO strategies, such as creating the kind of content that will attract links. Then, instead of buying links, you can just reach out to relevant sites with your content that people are going to want to link to even more than your homepage.
The key to this strategy is to create the right type of content for the links you wish to acquire. Free tools tend to get the most links, so if you can think of a great tool for your industry, take the money you would have spent on buying links and have the tool developed.
You can't stop to mourn the SEO strategies of the past that are no longer viable in the world of search marketing today. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to try new things that will boost your search rankings and your credibility in your industry. Your website and your business will benefit!
Interested in getting things right in 2015? Read more on how we can help with your SEO goals and schedule a call that works for you.