When I first started out writing content on the Internet, I didn’t even know that it was a possibility for the average person to make some decent coin that way. When I first started out, I had a really basic mailing list consisting of mostly friends and family and I would manually send out my articles to them. When I did finally get around to having an actual website, it was powered by Geocities and it had one of those strange categorized URL structures where my website was effectively located on a subfolder of a subfolder of a subfolder under the Geocities domain.
At the time–this was in the late 1990s and into the early 2000s–there really was no such thing as search engine optimization for me, because the thought never even occurred to me. However, when this hobby started translating into a possible career, I was far more familiar with what it meant to run a blog and I started learning about SEO. While some of those basics may still apply, many of the “best practices” of the time have since been thrown out of the window.
A short while ago, Neil Patel of Quick Sprout posted an infographic describing the difference between what SEO used to be and what SEO is now. We’re not even looking at that long of a time frame, as much of “what SEO used to be” was really only a few short years ago.
If you thought you knew what you were doing with both internal and external search engine optimization tactics, you might want to rethink your strategy. The old approach is outdated and it could actually be doing you more harm than good.
Some of the key takeaways from Neil’s post include:
- Keyword research is far less important than good content creation and effective social media marketing. Google is paying far more attention to “social signals” and they’re looking for more active engagement with your site’s content. If more people are liking and sharing your post, particularly through Google+, you have a better chance of getting ranked than if you were to target the “right” keywords.
- Keyword intent has taken over singular keywords. Even when you are engaging in your keyword research, it’s more important to look at long tail searches (which account for 70% of search traffic) and keyword intent. This means that if you want to rank for “make money online,” you don’t necessarily want to target a specific keyword density using that exact match. It’s better to write for real readers and use natural language.
- Content marketing is “highly integrated” with a company’s SEO strategy. This is a big reason why keeping a company blog and really engaging with your audience are so important.
- Spammy backlinks don’t work anymore. Google has gotten a lot smarter about detecting “artificial” backlinks, which had previously done a great job at bolstering a site’s rankings. In fact, Google will punish you if it thinks you’re buying these links on garbage sites through a service like Fiverr. Instead, focus on building quality backlinks from more legitimate web properties.
If nothing else, the real take-home message here also extends to just about everything else you do online: adapt or die. The Internet will continue to change with each passing day and the onus falls on you to adapt to the new situation. Don’t get stuck in a routine that’ll just get outdated anyway.