Search engine traffic is vital to the success of many online businesses. As such, many SEOs are in constant search of new, innovative, and sometimes sneaky ways to increase organic search engine traffic. Sneaky SEO practices require a lot of guesswork and adjustment from algorithm shift to algorithm shift. As such, Google’s own algorithm is updated at least five hundred times each year, with some larger shifts occurring once or twice on average.
These changes are not implemented to destroy SEO, but to knock out the algorithm chasers that are trying to use SEO tactics meant to manipulate their algorithm. Rather than focusing on fundamental SEO practices and a positive user experience, they manipulate inbound links, guess at what may be penalized in the future, and sacrifice relevance and quality for volatile and short term gains.
The Fundamentals are Enough
The fundamentals of SEO are fairly easy to learn. Advanced SEOs will have more tools for beginners when it comes to mining keywords and spotting technical issues, but the fundamentals are fine for almost every website.
These fundamentals include well written and keyword rich title tags and meta descriptions, fast page load speeds, resolving any duplicate content issues, and using descriptive ALT tags for images and anchor text for internal linking purposes and navigation. There are some additional fundamentals, but these are quick, actionable and provide large results for little effort. If all of these are taken care of, then the final step is to conduct keyword research and create useful and dynamic content around those keywords.
Find the Users and Find the Keywords
Keyword research can be done using a number of research tools or even Google’s own external keyword tool. These are fine, and for many terms, they provide great information, but there is a better way to do research that will pay off with users, and ensure that the search engines never target your site with their next algorithm change.
This technique for finding great keywords that potential visitors are using is to take part in the conversation. Taking part in the conversation means becoming active in relevant forums, joining Facebook groups, following Pinterest boards, an interacting on sites like Twitter and Tumblr.
Many of the keywords found through most research tools are only good for the search engines. The keywords extracted by paying attention to current discussion are great for the actual humans that may visit a site. Fresh, relevant, unique and optimized content improves the chance of creating a great user experience and building authority in the eyes of the marketplace.
Building Engagement and Relationships Beats Building Links
The algorithm chasers look for manipulations in anchor text and link variety to outrank their competitors. The webmasters that focus on engagement with their users and who build relationships with other webmasters don’t bother.
Provide Value and be Rewarded with Traffic
If SEO teams continue focusing on every new algorithm shift, their efforts will eventually go to waste. A focus on appealing design, easy to understand site navigation, and content that is useful and also optimized to be easily understood by the search engines will have an incredible return.
The user’s opinion of a website will eventually dictate how the search engines see a site as well. Keeping humans in mind acts as a shield against algorithm shifts because the social signals sent and the links built by happy users results in authority and loyalty. When the next shift happens, those who focused on the user won’t even notice, while the search engine algorithm chasers will wonder what techniques they will need to learn next.