If you are like a lot of people entering the world of online marketing, time is likely a precious resource to you. I coach a lot of working-class folks trying to earn some extra cash to supplement their income and hopefully gain independence, and it is not always easy. Money can be an issues, which is why I always post articles about ways that people can drive traffic to their sites without spending a dime, but as much as economics is a factor, so it time. If you are working 40-48 hours on a weekly basis and have familial obligations as well, it can be hard to find the time you need to make your online business grow. That is why it is important to not only know what strategies work best, but also which ones don’t work at all, because you simply do not have the time to waste on ineffective strategies. With this in mind, I’m putting together a two-part post to help my readers understand effective SEO strategies. Next week I am going to share with you some of the most effective strategies, but before I do that, I think it is important to understand which strategies don’t work so that you don’t end up investing your valuable time on methods that don’t work.
1: DON’T FOCUS ON BACKLINKS
It is important to preface this by saying that backlinks can help, but when it comes to backlinks, the Google spiders that crawl your page are more concerned with quality than quantity. When search engines were still in their infancy stage, they relied heavily on the number of backlinks a page had, and the more it had, the higher its ranking was. Obviously online marketers caught onto this and simply started blasting backlinks all over the internet. There were spambots designed to drop links into forums, and dummy sites created just to host these backlinks. Companies like Google caught onto these blackhat tactics and shut them down. The Penguin and Panda updates evaluate backlinks, and if they appear on sites that have been flagged, the backlinks could hurt your rankings. So where should you aim to post backlinks to your site? It is perfectly safe to share links on social-media networks, post them on your own site to take readers to relevant content, or share them on blogs when you are swapping guest posts. The most effective backlinks are those that appear on websites that end in .org, .edu, and .gov, as these sites have much more credibility. Don’t, however, invest money in to ‘consulting’ agencies that promise to increase your traffic through such techniques as many of them create dummy sites that are overloaded with backlinks and can hurt your ranking. If you don’t know how to find sites that have backlinked to your site, use Google Analytics to see where your traffic is coming from, or visit the backlink checker at Small SEO Tools.
2: MORE PAGES DO NOT MEAN HIGHER RANKINGS
Neil Patel, from Quick Sprout, notes that having more pages does not always translate to higher rankings. As is the case with backlinks, search engine algorithms are more concerned with quality, not quantity. It is obviously difficult for a search engine to evaluate the quality of writing given how subjective a process that would be, but they do look at things like word count. If you have a number of posts that are overburdened with links and have very little actual content besides, those pages are not going to rate highly and they could end up hurting your ranking. Don’t focus on how many posts you put up, but rather the quality of the posts. I, for instance, only write one post a week, and during periods when my business consumes a lot of my time, I unfortunately am not able to post as regularly as I would like, but considering the amount of time I invest in my blog, I get a significant amount of traffic and revenue. When I do post, however, I try to make sure that there is quality content and I am not simply posting for the sake of posting.
3: DON’T OVER MONETIZE
Monetizing your website is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to generating revenue, however, you don’t want to go overboard with this. Given that Google is the leader in search engines, it is best to make your website compatible with their rules. If you want to put ads on your site, it is therefore best to use Google ads given that Google generates money from them as well and therefore is invested in the health of your site. If you overburden your site with ads, not only will your readers be annoyed, but your search engine rankings will take a dive. If you are looking at other ways to monetize your site, be sure that they don’t clutter your page, otherwise the search engine spiders that visit your site might assume that it is a dummy site meant to host ads and backlinks to revenue sites, which will kill your ranking. There are effective ways to monetize your site, and some people have seen great success working as an Amazon affiliate, but evaluate how much money you are generating from these other streams. If there isn’t a significant amount of revenue coming in from there, you may want to stop investing your time with these other methods, and clean your website up.
4: DON’T BE A CARBON COPY OF YOUR COMPETITORS
Last year, James Bloom published an article on SEO techniques at Audience Bloom, and in it he warns that you should always avoid mimicking your competitors. Just as you use a backlink checker to see where your links are, many people use it to see where their competitor’s links are. When they find out, they learn the strategy and then implement it. The problem with this is that you will always be playing catch-up with your competitor. They’ve already done this. Now, this is not to suggest that you shouldn’t use the same strategies, but do not rely on them. Create new ways and look into method they are using. If your competitors are using Twitter, Facebook and Reddit, employ the same techniques, but expand on them. Get involved with Upworthy, Bloglovin and Pinterest. As Bloom suggests, you should “try to fill the holes your competitors leave”. If people like a product, they are not going to leave a brand they trust so that they can get more of the same. You want to offer something comparable, but different. Just as Facebook manage to wrestle away to social media crown away from MySpace by offering a similar but uniquely different approach, you want to stand out from the people you are competing with.
5: DON’T WRITE FOR KEYWORDS
A lot of people will warn you off of keywords altogether. I am not in that camp. For the people I coach, I have seen how valuable keywords can be for bringing in traffic from search engines. However, you do not want to be writing content centered on keywords. You want your content to be authentic. Do not rely on ‘keyword stuffing’, whereby you find as many excuses as possible to write a given keyword. Use the word only when it makes sense to and include it in your keywords. Let this process be organic. If there is a niche that isn’t written about often, you will show up in search engines, even if you only use the word two or three times and include it in your key words. If the topic your are writing on is a popular one, including a given word more often is not going to bring up your search ranking. You want your content to be reader friendly, and if they have to read the same word 18 times in a single post, and see that all of them are bolded, they are going to be annoyed. I’ve experimented with this technique a lot, and have received input from the people I coach, and I know that nothing good will come from simply repeating a keyword or writing around a given keyword.
Some of these strategies can work, but as I’ve mentions it is often about quality and not quantity. Whether you are writing posts, generating backlinks, monetizing your site, or comparing your strategies to your competitors, you need to focus on your readers before worrying about your SEO ranking. Make reader-friendly content, and your SEO rankings will rise over time. Be patient, and don’t employ tactics that waste your time or spoil your content. Most especially, avoid any blackhat tactics and ‘consulting’ firms that make extravagant promises as these can irrevocably hurt your site and permanently ruin your search engine rankings. For tips on effective SEO techniques, be sure to come back next for the second part of this post.
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