The Old Black Magic Era
Ever since 2008 when Living Streams added SEO to its portfolio of specialist skills, people have referred to SEO as black magic.
Perhaps there was an element of truth in that when hidden networks of topic focused websites offered a multitude of links focused on single search phrases (keywords). Nowadays search engines are becoming ever more clever at identifying and ignoring paid links, at identifying and punishing unnatural low quality linking.
There was a time when keyword density of your target keyword on the page targeted for high ranking was important.
There was even a time (pre-2008) when filling, with a long list of your target keywords, the keyword tag was part of search engines’ ranking algorithms.
The Current SEO Environment
But such times are long behind us now. Today SEO action should primarily be about:
- regular production of fresh content in which people are demonstrably interested
- demonstrating depth, width and currency of knowledge of relevant topics
- visitor experience – due to factors such as mobile responsiveness, page load times
- quality links from relevant sites that have authority themselves
That’s not to say that Google’s search ranking algorithm doesn’t still contain 200+ detailed factors. It is not to say that Google isn’t still making changes in the detail of its search ranking algorithm daily with at least one big change most years. But if you implement the above approach with honesty and produce quality content, your rankings should not be at risk of rapid falls: You will be implementing ‘Resilient SEO’.
That’s Not SEO – Yes It Is
As part of your SEO activity, you will be bringing people to your website to read your new content. The primary requirement is therefore for the titles and content of these articles to be on a hot current topical or address a perceived ongoing need for information on a subject. But what a waste if the people who visit to read your new content leave your site as soon they’ve read one article, probably in your blog.
Getting these people to visit the section of your main website that deals with the relevant topic and hopefully persuading them to provide you with their contact details is extremely difficult but should always be an aim.
Is the promotion of your fresh content well received with many pageviews, likes, shares and comments? Well that’s a good first step, but if people read your article and then immediately leave your website it will damage your rankings because the high bounce percentage, low average pageviews per visit and low average time on site per visit.
What about Black Hat SEO?
I still come across websites where websites are highly ranked despite implementing risky practices which Google condemns, e.g.
- Multiple duplicate pages apart from the town name which appears numerous times
- Keyword stuffed home pages which appear for a fraction of a second and are then automatically replaced with a more normal page.
- Keyword stuffed text on pages that matches the background colour and is hence invisible to the human visitor
I have even had the owners of such sites say that they want to keep these black hat methods because they’ve worked for the last x years and are still currently working. I walk away from such prospective clients after advising them of the risk they are taking.
Maybe black hat SEO is black magic – but Resilient SEO isn’t.
As a business owner or manager, the only bits about SEO that you need to understand are that:
- If you want to be ranked for types of apples, you have to write blog posts about types of apples
- Ranking is helped by social media follower interest as shown when they read, like, share your posts (Comments help too but you’ve chosen not to allow them in your blog)
- Regular publication of posts, the more frequent the better, is essential to social media follower engagement and helps rankings
- You need people to look at more than one page/post when they visit your site otherwise Google lowers your rankings and hence your organic search visits. People who only view on page/post and then leave are said to ‘bounce’: Your current bounce rate is 66% – you should be targeting to get it down below 35% for B2B business and below 25% for B2C
For most businesses, the support of a specialist consultancy should be used for ongoing advice and mentoring or implementation of (a) the myriad of changing detail that make the difference between mediocre and good high search rankings (b) website conversion mechanisms that result in your in digital marketing efforts producing a positive ROI (return on investment) in terms of reputation, leads and sales. They spend the time to keep up to date with all of this and the cost is spread over all of their clients: Businesses that do this for themselves carry the full cost of ongoing research and study – investment that is completely lost if the relevant employee leaves and results in a higher salary if they stay.