7 Directives to Help You Navigate the SEO Landscape of the Future

Think of a Rip Van Winkle like scenario where an SEO who went to sleep a few years ago, woke up today. Will he be able to recognize the current SEO process? Probably not – it’s changed drastically. With Google trying to make search a better place, all its algorithm updates have one core focus – get rid of spammy links and fetch only the most relevant search results.

As SEOs, we need to revisit our strategies and sort them out to navigate the changing landscape. With the way things stand, you must ensure your SEO strategies are future-proofed to add a semblance of consistency and solidity to your campaign.

Here are seven tips that should drive your SEO efforts in 2015 and beyond:

1. Google Wants “Quality,” But You Define the Threshold

Link building isn’t dead; it has evolved. Building links to your site still remains a crucial SEO activity. It is how you create these links that matters. Google wants you to earn these links and what is even more important – build links for humans and not search engines; the kind of links that are not only meant to increase rankings but also direct people to relevant content.

Your links need to be useful and take people to content that provides a solution for their needs. Link spam needs to be avoided at all costs. When building links, keep in mind that directories are over, commenting on blogs strictly to build links is a bad idea, and social should be an important part of your strategy. The whole idea is to sweat it out while building links and employing a bit of creativity to attract natural links towards your web pages.

2. Relationships Are the New “Add Link” Buttons

If you want to build backlinks, you need to build a relationship with various stakeholders. This includes influencers, brand advocates and your target consumers. If you really want to build high quality backlinks, you need to interact and engage with real people.

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Relationship-based link building is the way ahead. One of the first things you must do is target the influencers in your niche. Tools exist that let you search for Twitter bios of people related to your niche and sort them out on the basis of their social authority. Now, get in touch with these niche influencers and thought leaders.

This initial contact is important and sets the stage for a more fruitful relationship. Leave insightful comments on their blog posts, send an email, or connect at conferences or even on Twitter.

And keep at it. Once you start interacting regularly with influencers, give them a reason to link to you. What you want to offer is a mutually beneficial quid pro quo. One of the better ways of asking for a link is offering a high-quality blog post in return. In this particular case, they get readymade content that can be published on their site and you get a link, usually by way of an author bio.

The fact that you’ve spent time getting to know them and they know you means they will be amenable to this idea. If not, you could even ask them upfront for a link and what they would like in return.

3. Go Big or Go Home

Make SEO a part of your larger marketing efforts. Yes, if you get your SEO strategy right, it will go a long way in improving rankings. But why not leverage it a wee bit more? Think big.

Looking at SEO from a brand building prism will put things in perspective and also streamline your efforts. Ask questions like, “How will my optimization tactics benefit target customers?” “How do I make CRO an integral component of my SEO strategy?” or “Will organic traffic be the sole metric to calculate SEO ROI or will lead generation and sales figure in the ROI as well?” It would also help to ask how SEO can strengthen a brand, increase brand messages, and improve reputation and credibility.

4. When It Comes to Keywords, Long Tails Will Take You Far

If SEO has still not lost its relevance, why would keyword research? It’s still as important as ever, although the spotlight is now on long-tail keywords, which have risen in prominence partially due to Google Hummingbird. Gone are the days when Google would pick certain keywords from a search query and fetch results.

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Creating high-quality content that revolves around long search queries of your target users will allow you to scale SERPs. This also gives you more scope to come up with content that is user oriented more than anything else. You can move away from focusing purely on keywords.

5. UX Is the Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow

UX, including mobile, is super important for the success of your SEO efforts. While there is no clear indication from Google that UX is a ranking signal, there is a reason why offering a satisfying UX can influence search results.

Take site speed, for instance. If your site loads quickly, it’s a clear indicator of a satisfying UX. But if your site loads slowly, there is every chance it will suffer high bounce rates. And a high bounce rate is rumored to be bad for rankings.

On the other hand, fast-loading pages mean visitors tend to find what they want quickly, or even dig a bit more, which is characteristic of a site that is actually delivering value. This can boost your rankings.

Google recommends responsive web design, which means you need to take time out to make your mobile site look great. Other UX aspects that need to be factored in include call-to-action button sizes, readability, accessability, broken links and navigation.

6. Your Brand Is Social

While Google has categorically denied social signals are a ranking factor, the importance of social in improving your business’s search rankings cannot be stressed enough.

You create share-worthy content; ensure this content is easy to share; create social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms; interact with people through these accounts; share links to your content and other curated pieces through your accounts.

This will increase social media referral traffic to your site. Your content will be shared by your fans and followers with their fans and followers. Your content gets the potential to go viral, get more brand mentions and links, and reach more people.

7. Do Your Own Thing

The online world is saturated with content revolving around SEO and how you need to go about your optimization efforts. More content is being published every day. Your job is to sift through all this information, follow reputed blogs and thought leaders, and read/hear what they have to say.

But, at the end of the day, do what you feel is right for your business. Rather than focusing on and reaction to Google’s updates, be comfortable with your SEO strategies. If you are not confident or don’t have the knowledge needed to use a particular tactic, the effort will come across as half-baked and won’t deliver the results you are looking for.

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