This article was originally written by me in 2014. I’m in the process of updating to meet the current standards and best practices in 2017. In short, I believe many of the best practices remain the same, with the addition of compute, web service resource utilization, and as always good content to draw your audiences, then retain them with new, relevant and important information about the topics they are searching for. I’m also a big believer that media is still, and always will be, an important part of SEO. You overall effort, quality, and activity are still essential.
The following is an edited version of my article of SEO tips and advice from 2014:
SEO in 2017 is the year a lot is changing, in my honest opinion. I keep getting asked questions repeatedly about backlinks, I can assure you that if any SEO has heavy emphasis on backlinks they are clearly steering you in the wrong direction. Why? One example is my blog. It has virtually little to no backlinks and the places I do have little to no PR to pass on; yet I still manage to rank incredibly well, on the first page of Google for competitive search terms. I had someone recently tell me that “backlinks 2017” wasn’t competitive. Okay, really? Never assume you know more than the next guy. Don’t assume that a lower volume search term isn’t more valuable compared to a broad, higher search term with a significantly reduced conversion rate.
As is the case with most the web now, there are very few sources with high PR that wont set your link set to “no-follow”. No follow is a disposition which a webmaster can explicitly tell Google not to follow your link, don’t pass PR from their web page to your page. The majority of the web has become this way, any highly authoritative backlinks must be earned.
So how do you earn the highest, most credible and valuable links on the internet? I’m glad you asked! I’ll give you a few hints, it doesn’t involve spending hours a day or week creating anchor text from other websites and pages back to yours. Start by creating compelling, one of a kind content. I sort of feel like a broken record because I swear every other blog post I’m writing has a similar theme. Stop “link building” and start creating original compelling content in 2017 or get left in the dust!
In my opinion a compelling title and description are more important than your backlinks. Why? Because Google is known to measure CTR (click-through rate), it’s displayed as a performance metric in Google Webmaster Tools and it’s known to carry some of the heaviest weight when determining your keywords Quality Scores in AdWords. Why? Because Google looks as CTR as one of the highest indications of relevance between a users search and a click on the title. So trust me, your titles and descriptions are more important than ever before and must be a primary focus in 2017. If your hired/contracted SEO professional isn’t talking about how to write better, more compelling title and description meta tags then you’re probably headed in the wrong direction! If your SEO isn’t talking with you obsessively about structured data markup schema (a.k.a. micro-data) then you’re definitely headed the wrong way, TURN THE CAR AROUND! Micro-date or structured data markup schema was introduced back in 2011 and is considered the golden standard in SEO these days.
Another thing I’ve noticed a lot of lately, are SEO “professionals” that are using SEO oriented websites to build/duplicate links in mass volume. If there’s no contextual relevance between a website about SEO and your pool supply company, then guess what? Google is either going to consider those links as spam and/or manually penalize your website and force you to remove them. Now you’re having to double up and undo all that “work” you did.
So here is a summary of a couple important things Google looks at:
- Is there contextual relevance between your website and the website linking to yours? i.e. shouldn’t anchor text/backlink from a website about SEO to a pool supply website.
- What’s the websites reputation that is linking to you? Has anyone ever heard of it? Does it provide good relevant content?
- What’s the quality of your website content?
- What’s the quality of the websites that link to you?
- What’s your websites history and reputation? Have you or your SEO been found building shady backlinks before?
- How are you using micro-data, or Rich Snippets, do you use data highlighter / marker to test, and are you measuring/managing your data.
- What is your CTR? Are you even measuring it?
You can take my advice or leave it. Agree or agree to disagree – I have clients who get thousands of dollars (sometime tens of thousands, or more) worth of traffic to their websites every month and that’s not even counting conversions and new business opportunity I acquire from my readers – that would just be a comparable cost if I had spent it on AdWords.
What are your thoughts? Do you have any questions? Leave a comment below! I’m always happy to elaborate on these concepts in my weekly/bi-weekly updates.