So close to Christmas and the end of 2014 many websites have been inviting us to contribute tidbits to articles about how SEO will change in 2015 and what businesses can do to be ready. These fluff posts are fun, and they’re always an easy way to earn a link for websites like ours, but we should also exercise some caution when reading these posts.
SEO hasn’t changed a ton in the five years that I’ve been running Image Freedom. There have been websites caught doing shady things, even SEOs blacklisted by Google for such tactics, but the very basic “SEO 101” details very rarely change. Matt Cutts from Google would tell you that Google wants you to make the internet a better place, and that is certainly a very “Google PR” way of saying it but he’s not that far off.
Clean Up Your Code – I may have told this story a dozen times already, but it’s a very valuable lesson. We had a client who was frustrated by how slowly their rankings were improving, they’d even fully canceled their service. I went digging through analytics reports and reviewing what seperated the websites that were truly thriving from those who were moving up the rankings much more slowly.
What distinguished the best ranked sites from the least was simply that we had designed the website. I realize that sounds very self-serving to say, but we didn’t control the code, we didn’t write the navigation, and the website was simply not designed by an SEO. You can see above the jump their traffic took once their code was cleaned up and an SEO was allowed to dictate the process from start to finish.
Usually the cost of the new site is the biggest thing holding a company back, but not making the investment in clean SEO-friendly code could also be the thing holding your revenue back. It is one of the few investments that pays for itself so quickly.
Build Honest Links (No Shortcuts) – Link building is the hardest part of SEO, we fail to gain a link many more times than we succeed and so finding people who thrive in a high failure environment is a challenge. Finding people who can work with that success rate, stay positive, and who are fluent on the internet is an even bigger challenge.
This is why so many companies come out and say they can “automate SEO” or have “link submission services” because REAL link building is really hard to do month after month, and they’re happy to take the money of those who have given up or want a short cut.
If you take shortcuts in your link building or in your SEO it will come back to haunt you. We’ve had to repair the SEO of many companies who have dug a hole for themselves that took months to climb back out of. This is nothing new, this is nothing that is trending in 2015, you could have said it was trending in 2010. If your link building isn’t honest and Google can look at your links and doubt that you deserved them, you’re going to wind up with a penalty and that could set you back into 2016.
Bottom Line – SEO does change, but not as much as some people would like you to think. The most important SEO tactics that we utilize are the same tactics that have been working since Google started to ignore the Keyword meta tag. If your on-site SEO is wrong, all of the bandwagon tactics in the world aren’t going to help, and while you might feel like you’re chasing the cutting edge, that feeling is as much marketing as the person who wrote the post telling you to do it.
Real SEO is boring, simple, & straightforward. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.