The landscape of SEO has constantly evolved to keep up with the algorithm updates that the search engine powerhouse, Google, comes up with. The main component of SEO that changes every time an algorithm update comes up are the strategies that SEO practitioners use to rank up their web pages.
The fact that human beings are creatures of habit makes some of the outdated SEO strategies to still be regarded as important. This is why it is important for any SEO practitioner to have the capabilities to distinguish a truly great strategy from one that is only regarded as important because of the opinions from the general public of the SEO scene.
Knowing how to distinguish both of these strategies will either make or break your future as an SEO practitioner. When you have perfected the art of distinguishing these things, will not only help you be better at employing strategies but will also help your overall growth as a search marketer. Let’s get started.
Common Sense is Problematic
Countless years have passed since it was commonsensical for people to think that the Earth was flat. This is a great example that goes to show common sense is not always right.
Similarly, there is one problem with “good ideas”; it’s that they make a lot of sense and are generally reasonable. Let us go back to the example above, thinking that the earth is flat certainly makes a lot of sense and is reasonable – at least for the people that lived in that era – but, what our common sense will tell us now is that the Earth was never flat, to begin with, it was always spherical. This will tell you to never just rely on your common sense.
Causation is not Implied by Association
Here’s an example to help you understand the meaning behind this: a few years ago, an SEO practitioner noticed something that all top ranking sites had something in common; it was that they all had such strong presences in the social media landscape – specifically, Facebook likes. So, most people that are related to SEO in some way, started concluding that Facebook likes can help in the rank factor of a website. Any rational person would know that this makes sense, but they’re sadly mistaken.
If ever this happens again, there is an easy and simple way to know if it is either true or not. You can just review the latest information retrieval literature – academic research and patents – that is related to the ongoing issue.
If people had the initiative to review the literature would have proven that there is no research that can back up the claim that higher Facebook likes to equate to increased ranking.
Observation is not Always Right
The main problem with observation is that each person that observes any event or object has their own interpretation; which will lead to a clash of opinions, and eventually, the one with the loudest voice wins.
This usually happens in the SEO scene when an unannounced algorithm update comes out and the SEO world is baffled on what the update is for. Eventually, the interpretation that reaches the most people will become the standard on which the industry interprets the update; while the people with contrasting opinions are often ignored.
This is what happened on the very first Phantom update, which happened in 2015. When it came out, people immediately believed that it targeted websites that had a poor user experience. It automatically became the belief that most SEO practitioners would follow, but what they failed to take into account is that some blog posts from SEO specialists stated that their website was not affected the same way as people believed it to be.
It turns out that the Phantom update actually was not an update at all, but it is about Google tweaking certain parts of their existing algorithm. Nothing was added, but it changed certain parts of their core ranking algorithm. The criteria for something to be considered an update is that it should add something to the existing algorithm, and not just tweak it.
It’s Not Always About Spam
This is one of the most important notes to remember when an update is introduced: it’s not always about spam. Every time Google introduces an update, most people in the SEO industry interprets it as Google targeting a specific type of spam.
Historically, the updates that Google comes up with is just as likely to be trying to improve their algorithm’s understanding of high-quality content as it was to target low-quality content. But, the SEO industry is strangely preoccupied in interpreting it as a direct fight against low-quality content.
Here’s an example: if Google puts out an update that improves its understanding of high-quality content and relates it to the search queries of users, then the update is solely focused on high-quality content. So, when that algorithm is put out into the world, websites that have low-quality content and is unable to match the search queries of the users would naturally rank lower. The webmasters that were negatively affected by this update would automatically assume that it was targeting low-quality content. But, the real intent of the update is to improve high-quality content, which makes the webmasters that were stated recently, wrong.
Basically, the SEO industry should learn this one important aspect: Not all updates are about spam and low-quality content.
What most less effective SEO strategies lack is their review of patents and academic researches. They always disregard the importance of backing up a claim with scholarly literature. So, anytime you are questioning the claim of an SEO practitioner, always look for patents and research that can back up your argument. Solid proof is always better than personal opinions, anecdotes, and baseless claims.
Here are some SEO strategies that are unfounded, and could have been avoided if people did their proper research:
#1. Latent Semantic Indexing
Latent Semantic Indexing, or more popularly known as LSI, is all about helping search engines distinguish between the multiple meanings of certain words. This was used over 20 years ago.
In our society today, LSI has become obsolete in relevance to how search engines understand and rank web pages. This is all because of the existence of updated databases of information that helps search engines understand how multiple concepts such as things, people, and places relate to the keywords of websites.
#2. Keywords in Headers
This outdated strategy has little to no relevance in how modern search engines now work. Some SEO practitioners still don’t know that search engines are not trying to match keywords on web pages with the keywords in a search query.
The people who still does this strategy still cling on to the idea that keyword pattern matching is still a viable strategy. Well, it was popular in the 1990’s, but it’s 2017 and the SEO landscape has come a long way.
#3. Linking to Authority Sites
This strategy was first introduced in the late 90’s, but some SEO practitioners still incorporate this strategy in their day to day SEO activities. Linking to authority sites is based on the HITS algorithm, which is now irrelevant on how search engines rank websites.
If you are still unconvinced, there are absolutely no patents or academic research whatsoever to back up the claim that linking to authority sites will help rank higher.
Outdated SEO strategies can be detrimental to your pursuit of higher rankings. Always remember what was introduced to you today, and you’ll be avoiding any mistakes that most SEO practitioners make. It’s understandable to trust on the words of the general public, but it is important for SEO practitioners to be able to backup their claims and opinions. I only hope that there comes a time that all SEO practitioners learn how to get better in creating a great SEO strategy!
So, can you now create a better SEO strategy than the one that you are currently using? Tell me in the comments below, and let’s make the SEO scene a better place one step at a time.