Future-Proof SEO

Future-Proof SEO :: How to Avoid Losing Everything

In his excellent article entitled “Google Kicked Me So Hard I Cried A Little Bit“, Dave B. Ledoux graphically describes what it was like to wake up one morning only to find that he’d wasted three years of his life.  Virtually overnight, Google had kicked out 570 of his sites, and took with them, a substantial part of his income.

→ In 2004, Dave was creating high quality sites, but these took time, effort and a lot of work.

→ In 2006, along came some shiny new toys that promised faster, easier wealth.  Dave (like many others) bought into them.

To be fair, some of those toys did make a lot of money for the people who used them, but it was never going to be a long-term strategy for an online business.

As the search results started getting clogged up with millions of pages of absolute rubbish, Google’s engineers kicked in and modified the algorithm to simply take the trash out.

Almost overnight, hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of sites each containing hundreds of thousand of pages were wiped out.

People went from making 5 figures a month to nothing….

Dave’s story has some great advice at the end so I encourage you to read it. When the curtain came down on his scraped spam sites, he noticed that the quality sites he was building back in 2004 were still indexed, still getting visitors and still making sales.

In a recent series I ran in my newsletter, I wrote an eBook called “Future-Proof SEO”.  The idea was to give my readers a course that would keep their sites safe for the next 10 years.  Obviously, there was a lot of skepticism,  I mean how could I predict what Google was going to do over the next 10 years?

My reply to the skeptics was simple.

Google will make a lot of changes to their algorithm, but the core concept behind these changes is very unlikely to change.

Google wants to serve the best, most relevant, high quality pages to their visitors.

If Google’s visitors are happy when they arrive at a site from Google search, then Google are happy.

The 4 Pillars of Future-Proof SEO

To be “future-proof”, your SEO strategy needs to be built on four main pillars.

Pillar 1 – Quality Content.

I don’t know how many times I have heard that the most important part of SEO is the back links.  I disagree.  I think quality content is the most important and I’ll tell you why.

Imagine you write a poor quality article, maybe even scrape one from an ezine directory.  All you do is add a little introduction and a closing paragraph to try to boost on-page SEO.  I am sure you will agree that this type of content does not really add much to the web!

You back link it heavily and watch it rise through the SERPs, and get into the #1 spot.  Yippee!!  You are #1.  A short while later, maybe a few days, maybe a few weeks or maybe a few months, your page disappears from the top 10, and is nowhere to be found even in the top 500.

What happened?

Well, the thing about Google is that they monitor user behaviour.  Login to your Analytics account and look at Bounce Rate and time on site.  Google has this data…

If your page consistently gets high bounce rates and short times on the page, Google knows it’s not serving the needs of the searchers, so your ranking will fall.  Maybe your site was even visited by one of those mythical “raters” – employed solely to check the top search results for quality.  The fact is, Poor Content Cannot Hide in Google.  That is why I believe good SEO starts with good content.

Pillar 2 – Site Organization

This may seem like a minor issue, but having a well organised site means that visitors can find what they are looking for more easily.  It’s also got to be esthetically pleasing.

You only have a couple of seconds to make a first impression when a visitor arrives.  If they cannot immediately see what they want, or the design of your site churns their stomach (or makes them go bug-eyed trying to read that blue text on a black background), they’ll hit the back button and record one more bounce for your page (and a short visit duration).

Silos are great for organising content because they’ll keep highly related content within the same site category.  WordPress related posts plugins can be setup to only show related posts in the same category for any page.  These internal links not only help with SEO, but they help keep your visitors on your site.

Pillar 3 – Authority

How much of an authority are you?  Imagine your niche was “microphone headsets”.  How much more confidence is someone arriving at your site going to have if they see your photo – the same photo they have just seen on a forum discussing microphone headsets? Or in the bio of an article they have just read on another site?  Or within the blog comments they have just read on another sites that was reviewing headsets?

Getting your face or your brand out there will lead to higher authority in the eyes of your visitors.  Think about the places you can get your face / brand out there.  Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Forums, Guest blogging, etc.  Not only do these sources increase your own authority from the visitors perspective, but you’ll also get back links to your site to help increase your authority in the eyes of Google.

Pillar 4 – What’s in it for the visitor?

Last, but definitely not least – what has your site got to offer a visitor?  Let’s face facts – if it does not offer them what they want, they’ll be off.

Having a good analytics program installed on your site is vital.  You need to know how people find your site and how they leave your site.  You need to know which pages have high bounce rates, and which ones don’t keep the visitor’s attention for more than 10 seconds.

If someone searches Google for “best Sennheiser microphone”, and they arrive at your page on “Plantronics microphones”, they’ll probably hit the back button (unless they spot that link to Sennheiser Microphones).

You need to choose which words you want each page to rank for, and work at getting the necessary links.

As you create content for your site, think “what does my page offer that other sites don’t?”  You need to stand out from the crowd and be noticed.

If you have a “tablet PC” review site, why not create a guide for buying a tablet PC and make sure your visitors can see it?  This is a great way to keep people on your site, and it also helps build their perceived authority of you and your site.

This article has only just scratched the surface on what I refer to as Future-Proof SEO.

If you want to read the free 35 page course, I hope you will find it useful.

Dr. Andy Williams has been studying & experimenting with search engine optimization for nearly 10 years and teaches his methods in his weekly Internet Marketing Newsletter, where you can download his free "Future-Proof SEO Guide" - no optin required. He is also a programmer, and has created a number of tools including Web Content Studio - a tool to help authors create better quality content.


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{ 35 comments… add one }
  • Dereck February 13, 2012, 6:45 pm

    I think that your 4 pillars for future proofing your SEO are spot on. “What’s in it for the visitor” is a mindset that I have taken on recently and has helped both my SEO and the interaction I am seeing on my blog.

  • Abel Pardo December 1, 2011, 9:56 am

    Quality for the visitor. We listend these words thousand of times but today they keep all their sense. We have to write for them, not for us, trying to find our niche and offering always satisfaction to our visitors’ needes. That’s the key!

  • Maria Pavel November 5, 2011, 1:45 pm

    People who are into SEO must bear in mind that just like any other businesses, there is no easy way to make money online unless you already know what you are doing. Actually, easier way can be dangerous at times because they are not providing quality backlinks nor quality site itself. Always think not only of your own benefit, but also your the possible readers or visitors of your site, give a high quality site.


  • Musthafa Ullal November 2, 2011, 10:15 am

    Yes, it’s absolutely true that we need authority as well as quality content for future proof SEO.

  • jeffkgross November 2, 2011, 4:38 am

    Think that most internet marketers only wants to earn big amount of money in short time, and they will not realize how important are three main facts described above in post. Andy said all what is really important to survive in online business. Quality, relevancy and continuously work with developing new ideas and following niche community. Thanks Andy on great words here!

  • Mandy Kilinskis November 1, 2011, 9:05 am

    Great post, Andy.

    Our company took a hit when Google introduced the first couple of Panda updates, but luckily, we’ve been focusing on content with our blog and (most of) our product descriptions.

    This is truly a “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket” scenario, as well. Besides building great sites with great content, we do need to act as authorities and network. Let older customers spread the word for us, keep up active social media, and comment on other blogs (in a constructive way, of course). Spreading your face and your message will always be “Google-proof.”

  • Arfan November 1, 2011, 7:46 am

    I think the first point is the one that should be heeded the most, great content! with the panda’s emphasis on usability of the site and how “good” your site is being measured (we assume) by time spent, bounce rate etc it is a vital that we dont “churn” out content but make it worthwhile.

    • Andy November 1, 2011, 12:43 pm

      Human reviewers will probably be asked if they trust the site (as in “would you make a purchase from this site”) so site design and the way it looks is also important.

      In fact, all 4 pillars are very important in my opinion, but I agree, without good content no amount of SEO will help as it will ultimately be judged on the content.

  • Dennis November 1, 2011, 7:26 am

    Hey Andy. Great stuff you got right here man. Your 4 pillars is amazing! I feel sorry for Dave though. Google has the power to make us rich and to take it away from us so we have to be careful.

    Thanks for your tips.


  • Daniel. October 31, 2011, 10:28 pm

    Nice article post, Andy.

    Very sad to here what happened to Dave.

    Google keeps doing constant Algorithm changes(500 in the past year alone) and there have been a number of sites heavily affected.
    As to methods that promise massive traffic or back-links, though they seem a bit dodgy, they probably are.

    For the most part I agree with what you’re are saying are the requirements that will keep Blog and Website authors in the good books with Google.
    Now for the other side of the coin. Often when I do keyword research(SEO) I come across a number poor quality sites, that have taken page one for top quality keywords. Many of the sites that have joined them on page one are Authority(Including ultra authority) sites, that have tons of back-links and often high PR.

    So, to be honest, I am in two minds as to what constitutes the correct path to follow, as far as having a successful Blog or website.

    I did gather a bit of insight into what Google is expecting of webmasters. Much of this information made sense, though, I do not believe that these were the only parameters Google is using to base it’s decisions on.

    • Andy Williams November 1, 2011, 5:14 am

      Hi Daniel
      Poor sites are often found in Google SERPs quite high up, but whether they stay for the long term is the main point. If they are ranking for very commercial terms, the chances are the sites will be reviewed by human “raters” and if they think the sites are poor, chances are they will get penalised and drop out of the top 10.

  • Tyler October 31, 2011, 5:37 pm

    Great article! I absolutely agree with your outlook on effective and valuable SEO. It’s too easy to get caught up in link-farming, spamming and other blackhat techniques that provide short-term gains with no lasting value.

    A large part of SEO is definitely about improving the search rankings of the site or company you work for, but it’s important to remember to do so in a way that adds value to the web.

  • Michael October 31, 2011, 4:15 pm

    Hey Andy,

    I’ve downloaded your ebook, and I have to say, anyone serious about building an online business should do so too – And read it of course!

    Really impressive information of high value given for free is not often seen. The sad thing is; It most likely not actually seen even downloaded a lot, because of just that reason – it’s free.

    People tends to believe (and with a good reason) that give-away report is crap, so even though they spend time downloading, they never actually read what they got.

    I did – and thank you once again!

    Regards 🙂

    • Andy Williams November 1, 2011, 5:15 am

      Thanks Michael. Glad you liked it. It was originally written as a 4 part series in my newsletter and I then bundled it all together into a PDF.

  • Bharat October 31, 2011, 3:13 pm

    An outstanding and awesome article. Future Proof SEO helps to maintain a blog for long promising years. Re-tweeted, because of the content present here 🙂

  • joseph brown October 31, 2011, 2:25 pm

    I think Good Content and then use social networks that is very good and your posting is good and very useful tips thank you for this

    • Dianne October 31, 2011, 5:35 pm

      Solid social networks are key these days. The last think you want to do is depend on Google for traffic.

  • Shoaib Ibn Abdullah October 31, 2011, 1:18 pm

    Hi Andy,
    Your post is very clear about seo(specially #1).
    BTW why don’t you write about creating good content. After all content is your first priority in SEO.

    Thank You Very Much

  • Steve October 31, 2011, 12:10 pm

    I believe that content is the King and helps any website to rule the web. It must be optimized though!

  • DiTesco October 31, 2011, 10:12 am

    Great insights Andy. I do agree with you that although SEO changes constantly, there are those variables that remain constant and would most likely never change. #1 for example is the one thing that will never change. On the contrary, greater emphasis will probably be put in to truly differentiate quality content from the others. Anyway, I think that the 4 pillars all work in conjunction and doing one or two and leaving the others will really not be that much of an impact. After all, it is difficult to raise a building with only two pillars, lol.

  • mike October 31, 2011, 10:05 am

    I agree with this, although not currently planning ahead, I think the authority point is important, if you are an authority i believe google will be rewarding these sites in the future.

  • tushar October 31, 2011, 9:30 am

    lovely post. right now i am concentrating on the one aspect of the above mentioned tips and that is QUALITY CONTENT. My first aim is to build quality content and establish myself among the community and then i will move onto the next step

  • Jamie Northrup October 31, 2011, 7:53 am

    Great post Andy, if you don’t try and “cheat” the system you won’t have anything to worry about, bring value, and you will be rewarded in the end.

  • Dave Lucas October 31, 2011, 5:20 am

    Talk about provoking thoughts!
    I might add that bloggers should avoid the books and PDFs by Blogging Gurus who, in turn for $27 or more or less will help dig your blog an early grave by setting it to fall just like Dave Ledoux’s!

    More on that:

  • Amit October 31, 2011, 5:01 am

    Very interesting and useful article. In my opinion (and Google’s opinion too, hehe), when building a website you should create the website for the users – not for the crawlers/search engines/Google. It’s important to focus on the quality, not on the quantity also, the content is very important. Thanks for sharing!

  • Mark October 31, 2011, 4:48 am

    Yes I agreed with you. According to my knowledge quality content is must for better SEO. Thank you Andy, I have gone through your article and this article has valuable information for me. As a fresher for SEO field this article will be beneficial for me a lot.

  • Ileane October 31, 2011, 3:31 am

    Hi Andy, I enjoyed the post and I will certainly take a look at your ebook. For example, I’d like to hear more about what you recommend as a tool for analytics. I’m assuming that you are going beyond Google Analytics but how do you take action on the data that you find there.
    Now that we have real-time stats from Google, I’m seeing that people are searching for stuff that doesn’t exist. I’m tempted to put together an ebook that’s called “Here’s all the stuff you are searching for that hasn’t been invented yet”. LOL
    Seriously Andy, thanks for the advice and I look forward to getting more.

    • Andy Williams October 31, 2011, 5:06 am

      Actually my book doesn’t go into Analytics at all. It’s just adds more information to the “4 pillar” ideas. I do actually use Google Analytics myself, maybe I need to write another article on how to take action from the data 😉

      • Ileane October 31, 2011, 5:32 am

        Andy, thanks for responding. I downloaded the ebook and I’ll take a look at it soon so I can give you some feedback.
        Yes, a follow up article would be great. If you want to share it on Basic Blog Tips, just use my contact form and I’ll get you set up as a contributor. Have a great week!

        • Andy Williams October 31, 2011, 6:37 am

          Now there is a good offer!

          I am really busy at the moment, but when I do have time for a guest post, I’d be happy for your site to have first refusal. Thanks!

  • Ryan Biddulph October 31, 2011, 3:29 am

    All points are powerful but #1 sticks out Andy. You become as valuable as your offering. If your content is usable and valuable, you will do very nicely in this business.

    Thanks for sharing!


    • Andy Williams October 31, 2011, 5:07 am

      Hi Ryan,
      Yes I agree that the content is up there as one of the most important. At the end of the day, if you backlink your way to the top, your content has to stand up to a human review sooner or later.

  • Shamelle October 31, 2011, 2:50 am

    It’s been drilled into every blogger that the focus should be on quality content. However, I still come across many blogs which look like rehashed blog posts.
    “New” blog posts are hard to come by these days in blogosphere. But you can give a “fresh” new spin to a fairly new idea.

    Also, write content for your readers first and then for search engines.

    • Andy Williams October 31, 2011, 5:09 am

      Yes I agree with your last sentence. Content must be for the humans.

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