Google has been cruel this new year 2012 (as usual). A lot of websites suffered ranking drop this February. SEO consultants & companies have been quite busy solving the new algorithm puzzles set forth by Google. You will find a lot of discussions on net on all what’s happening and how to cope with the changes Google is making this year – and a lot that we are anticipating soon after Google announces change in how it indexes sites and how searches are going to be affected going forward. Running an SEO company has become more pain than fun as it used to be in the past. Here is some quick feedback, evaluation of the situation and my suggestions on what happened this Feb and how to get along with these changes to my all SEO colleagues, webmasters and e-marketing executives.
On the brighter side, things have changed towards betterment if you are fond of ethical link building and give proper consideration to your on-page stuff prior to starting an aggressive link building campaign. Last year Google Panda was active finding low quality or duplicate content and this year Panda is cracking on low-quality, unnatural links. As a matter of fact, nothing changed as regards to an SEO strategy; it’s only that usual ways of doing SEO will not work anymore. I wrote an article in September last year “think human, think Google” where I stressed upon the need of developing a site’s popularity as naturally as possible keeping in mind the human users of your site and NOT the search engines. I believe that stays the best strategy for this year as well.
Cutting to the chase, here are top 10 Do’s and Don’ts of SEO strategy in the year 2012:
- On-Page Stuff: On-page is your winning horse this year, more than ever. Have a thorough review of your site again, check for duplicate content through Copyscape or copying pasting in Google with quotation mark. If you find someone already scrapped your content, go ahead and make necessary changes to keep the theme with different wording. This is lot easier than going after website for removal of your original content in my opinion.
- Keyword Stuffing: The old methodology of 3-5% of your main keywords stuffing will not work. You need to concentrate on writing for users and wherever your keywords come naturally put them as you go. Believe me, even if your keyword density goes down to 1% but it’s natural, it’s going to be much more effective than a 5% density that “looks” written for search engines.
- METAS: Make sure your META title and description are well written, and while reading it makes a complete sentence or proper sense instead of a keyword stuffed sentence.
- Keywords Per Page: Try ranking each page for not more than 3 keywords and ideally only one keyword and its derivatives for each landing page. Google is cracking more on homepage than inner pages, reason being most of the link building and SEO effort is being done on homepages, so to avoid coming under Google radar, try most of your SEO effort on inner pages and only your branding effort and a couple of top keywords for your homepage, it will save you a lot even if you get in trouble with Google for homepage, you will still be generating good traffic if you are ranking 80% of your keywords on other landing pages.
- Anchor Text Variation: Google is penalizing sites which are getting backlinks using identical anchor text. It looks quite unnatural that 100 of sites linking to you are linking through the same anchor text, doesn’t it? So, make anchor text variations properly. If you are following my advice in #4 and using minimum keywords on each page, variation will be much easier without affecting your link juice. If you are targeting a lot of similar keywords on different pages, anchor variation will actually spoil your each page strength and you will start seeing Google giving results to the URL different than what you were doing SEO to. Never exceed your anchor text links more than 40% of the whole linking profile. Use your URL as your anchor text, Greek anchors like click here, this site etc.
- Linking Profile: Make your link profile as natural as you can. Mix follow with no-follow links, every now and then mix a Wiki link along with your anchor text link. Dont depend on one method of link building, diversify it. Use blogs, forums, PRs, link profiles (only natural, as normal link profiles are losing their effectiveness), web 2.0, tier II and III linking.
- Technical Analysis: Have someone take a look at your backend, codes and make sure nothing is violating Google guidelines. Wrong canonical tags were the reason of penalty for one of my client’s site. Excessive codes, how text appears if Java is disabled etc. All this to make sure you don’t get hit by a penalty when Google is getting tougher day by day.
- User Blog: Create a blog if you don’t have one. If you already have one, use it for writing interesting articles for your readers. Make sure your articles are not advertorial about your own products. If you are selling tennis shows, you can write articles on shoes in general, foot care etc. This will increase your site’s popularity among users and authenticity in search engines.
- Social Media: Make social media the integral part of your SEO campaign, without it you are not going to be much trusted by Google. Create facebook, linkdin, twitter, youtube profiles and link your site to them. Do regular activity on these social media sites to promote your site and link your pages to it. Increase your fans, likes and members to give signal to search engines how popular your site is.
- AVOID: Avoid paid linking, HPBL (homepage backlinks), Sitewide links and any link that show unnatural and looks paid and spammy. Google doesn’t hate more than a paid link (as it competing with Google adsense). Avoid any automated backlinking software, blog networks, link juicers, automatic article submitters, spun content etc etc.