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.
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.