While it’s seemingly impossible to predict how search engine algorithms will evolve over time, it is fairly easy to spot trends. There are consistent messages that make up the reasons behind each and every search engine change, update or new feature. Understanding what they are can help you avoid any future traffic plunges due to an algorithm update.
Whether it affects your website or social media accounts, the messages behind algorithm updates are simple and finite.
Be genuine. Be consistent. Be reputable.
Search engines are a business too, and exist for a very specific reason – connecting the user to what they are looking for. Just like any other business, if they don’t do it well, the user will move on to one that does. In order for search engines to be effective, they need ways of weeding out the spammy, low quality websites and connect you with information that a user would deem valuable. If you think of a search engine in terms of a brick and mortar establishment, they, Google specifically, have done what any business owner would do to protect his business. They implemented security, safety standards, rules of conduct, and set guidelines to ensure an even playing field for all “participants”. Whether your business has been around for 50 years, or you just opened your doors last month, you start out in exactly the same place in the eyes of a search engine.
A List of “Don’t Do’s”
- Don’t put your website in a link directory for the sake of getting a link to your website, especially a paid link directory. There are of course some directories that are wonderful to be in, but they usually involve someone else nominating you for an achievement of some kind. For example: A top/best list from local newspapers, magazines, online publishers, etc. “Seattle Weekly’s Top Restaurants“, “Seattle Metropolitan Top Doctors of 2013 “, or pretty much any one of the Forbes Lists are some great examples of what types of directories are good to be in. The only directories that would be beneficial to submit to would be Yelp, Angie’s List, or something of that nature where you’re ratings are based on customer reviews.
- NEVER pay for links. Never. (Excluding banner ads and PPC of course.) You can get blacklisted for this. Meaning your site will get kicked out of the search engine index.
- Don’t use your social media accounts purely for the sake of advertising, use it to engage with the public. For example, if you’re an online retailer, don’t clutter your social accounts with product images linked to the product page and shopping cart on your website. It looks like strings of spam. You aren’t fooling anyone, and you’re also decreasing your chances at future credibility. Occasional promotions and sales are great if they’re intermixed with other engaging posts. There is very delicate balance to manage on social accounts. You are selling your brand without the user knowing that you’re selling your brand.
- Don’t set up social media accounts and then just let them sit there. You don’t get credit for opening an account. That’s worse than not setting them up at all.
A list of “To Do’s”:
- Try and think about your website as if it’s a brick and mortar establishment. Just because it’s on a digital interface doesn’t mean it doesn’t need just as much upkeep and care as an actual store or office.
- Unlike a brick and mortar business, your website is available for your customers and users 24-7, from any corner of the globe. Making sure it’s chock-full of everything you want people to know about you and your products or services is important. Routinely updating your site content and writing engaging posts for your blog are essential as well.
- Don’t force keywords into your page copy. Regardless of the topic on the page, the keyword phrase or intent will happen naturally through the content writing process.
- Keep it simple.