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Google is not stupid…Do's & Don'ts of SEO from experience

May 14 - Josh Doolan

OK I've been through the ring a few times with Google and I gotta say I'm yet to have a rocky balboa moment, In fact I’d go as far to say I haven’t even taken a single round off my fateful opponent…However I've learnt a few ways to dodge some of the blows, and this comes from experience – spoiler alert…they hurt!

The one thing that has left me in good step throughout my career when dealing with SEO is to not get complacent about how you can "fool google" - because the fact of the matter is, in the end - you can't. There are so many SEO fads that people rabbit on about ‘the great new way’ to rocket your rankings – don’t believe the hype. At the end of the day, ask yourself – am I trying to fool google? If you are – you have a long road ahead of you.

You hear all these SEO ‘gurus’ preaching “don’t take short cuts” white hat, white hat, white hat!!! – Whilst I do agree with this, there are however effective strategies that aren't necessarily short cuts but good practices when looking to improve your sites SEO.

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Here are the Don'ts

Optimize, Optimize, Optimize...Don’t

“Organic”: eat yoghurt, grow a beard and sip lattes…..not quite, when talking organic or natural in seo it's referring to the authenticity of your content - is it genuine, natural and not over-optimized? Keyword stuffing and leveraging the perfect keyword density is looking at it the wrong way in my opinion, here let me spell it out:

“If the keyword is there….Google will find it

Don’t get me wrong, please ensure your keyword is there but don’t bold it, underline it, italic and place it 76 times in your content pages – google will punch you.

Ensure your sites code is semantic, validated, has effective titles and metas and a solid overall page structure. Over optimising will hurt you – don’t read into the natter.

Focus on one keyword for one page only…..Don’t

If one of the pages you are working on has tones of high PR and authority backlinks for the one term, no matter the quality – you’re in trouble, diversify…quick.  Google dislikes a high percentage spikes on a single term, to them it will appear un-natural or un-organic and without a beard, yoghurt OR Latte. Diversify your backlink anchor text. Suggestions might be to simply promote your brand, your site name or even a targeted keyword variation.

“Link building is dead”...it’s not…wake up

Link building is not dead and if you think it is wake up to yourself. Google has done an effective job in making black hat SEO’s crawl back into their little holes in recent years and these days you simply cannot buy into link building schemes any more to gain rank…I mean you can, but if you want the TKO blow from google’s right upper cut, go for it pal. The Panda and Penguin algorithm really sent a lot of sites down the ranks with this update. Whilst they spruiked the percentage rates for affected search would be low – a lot of people didn't consider this would actually include them.

Google simply needs links, it’s one of the primary components that drives the algorithm - content simply cannot be found without it and Google has just gotten smarter about how they reward linked content. It’s now all about authority sites and yes, still PR... however if the site is a grade A student in eyes of google, which isn’t necessarily determined purely page rank but authority also, then that’s the site that is going to help you.

Social works – but how rocky, how?

I've seen some great results with social. I'm of the opinion, if google makes it – get it, use it & push it and you can’t really go wrong. Youtube, google+, maps etc anything – get around it, and where it will let you - add your site’s link to the profile pages even if it is a no follow. In the ‘social world’ nofollow links are calculated differently in google – it still really is one of the key ways google measures the “viralness” of particular content.

As well as being a part of all of the google social networks definitely get around the others, as many as you can. In fact 90% of the time these sites have a greater than 5-6 page rank – with high authority. Syndicate all your sites content through these every time you have something on your site worth sharing, it works.

Yes, yes, alight, alight... Content IS actually King

Ok I admit it – content really is the only way to succeed in SEO at the moment – and always has been when you look at it. Create good content, that has effective call to actions to relevant targeted pages – and you will be rewarded. Partake in some of the don'ts listed above– and it will work against you. Ensure your content is lengthy. Get it up over 500 words and slap in some H1 & 2 tags for good measure along with an image with alt tags. Use authority content sites to post good offsite articles with RELEVANT content and link to your RELEVANT site articles – creating a clear link path that google can, see, use & reward.

In conclusion, remember – google isn’t stupid, it will round house kick your site if you don’t play by the rules.

Continue to question your strategy. Webmaster tools has come a long way over the years and these days the guys at google pretty much spell out pretty clearly what they’ll nail you for – know this, and include it in your strategy.

The tips listed above aren't short cuts, they are tips to building an effective SEO strategy – and provided this strategy eats yoghurt, has a beard and drinks lattes; you’re on the right track to bettering your sites rank & traffic..... keep punch'n.