[guest post by Alicia Honeycutt]
Whether it is a quick recipe for baking or to find the best deal on a smart device, search engines are made for users, not brands. Does this mean that marketers can’t do anything to help brands pop in searches? Wrong. You can outsmart the search engines but spammers often do it the wrong way.
Marketers who don’t want to follow the system enter the dark sided doors of search engine optimization (SEO). Does this pique your interest? Here are the practices spammers use to manipulate search engines even today.
- Pay websites for links. Sure, this is rather helpful for the brands because it’s easy to link and you don’t have to worry about the quality of the content but low-quality content may be now blocked by Google’s changing algorithms.
- Spam websites with baseless comments. Marketers use non-related comments to embed promotional links on high ranking websites. There are tools to help too. This interferes with the user experience.
- Content Creation with “copy and paste”. Plagiarism is a growing concern but since it’s easy to do, marketers do it to save time and effort.
- Changing content with spinning. Marketers take one article, push it in a tool that produces thesaurus versions. Changing the content makes it harder for search bots to consider it as duplicate.
- Stuffing content with Keywords. This is overusing the same keyword more times than necessary within the content to maximize visibility to search bots and increasing organic traffic to the page.
The practices mentioned above are “black hat” SEO strategies. These are risky because search bots that analyze every page and every phrase will find these sooner or later. Once they do, the website practicing these strategies are penalized by lowering the ranks or blacklisted. Although rare, some websites are even banned from searches altogether.
There is plenty that marketers can do if they follow the search engine systems (or white hat SEO strategies) and remember this goal:
“…make sure you’ve got high-quality content, the sort of content that people really enjoy, that’s compelling, the sort of thing that they’ll love to read that you might see in a magazine or in a book, and that people would refer back to, or send friends to, those sorts of things…”
– Matt Cutts (Head of Google Webspam)
You can play the system only if you create unique, engaging and exciting content that gives value to the readers. Let’s look at the white hat techniques one by one.
For your content to be unique, marketers have to use first-hand research. Article spinning is what we talked about earlier as a black hat strategy where existing content is spun into a “new” article by using paraphrases. Google search bots are now smarter to consider if a whole article is spun or if it’s unique. Unique articles with perfect grammar and written with the target audience in mind get high ranks from search engines.
Spammers use baseless comments to leave their links (for backlinks). These unrelated comments hamper user experience and may discourage readers from commenting on your website. Use this technique to build links by making a regular contribution, share insightful advice or tips within the comments and add links to the websites that are most related to yours. You can use a plugin that auto detects spam comments and remove them from your website.
If you use second-hand research to create unique content, remember to link to the sources that are high-quality. This means that the websites you want to link within your content must have a high domain authority (DA) score. Add links to useful anchors compelling readers to click and read further. Linking your other articles within a post is a great way to get more eyes on the rest of your website content. Besides, correct and useful content that is well-written gets shared more by the readers too.
Adding our website link to relevant directories is a great way to build links and get more exposure too. Search for a local directory with a solid reputation before you add yours to it. Also, check if the directories are moderated and updated regularly. Add your website to niche directories to boost your SEO. Adding it to an overseas or irrelevant directory would be much like a black hat strategy.
Your content has to be the best out there. Your marketing tactics for inbound and outbound must adhere to the search engine systems. When technology evolves, so will the rules of the systems.
Search engines will outsmart markets by changing technology, algorithm and artificial intelligence collected by search bots. You can outsmart search engine by being a step ahead of the curve. For example, now increase the SEO optimization for your visual content. Create relevant images and videos and optimize them with keywords, tags, and descriptions.
Since 40% of online searches are now via mobile, optimize your content for mobile. Incorporate voice searches on your website because with technology such as Siri and Google Now, voice searches are the future of search engines. Most important, stop using risky black hat SEO strategies to outsmart search engines.