(Take it from one who knows.)
I’ve lost (and regained) the same 30 pounds more times than I can count. Short-term weight loss schemes simply don’t work. So it is with quick-fix SEO tactics, where someone promises you that if you only do x,y, or z your rankings will shoot to the moon in only a few short weeks. Sometimes these tactics work, mostly they don’t, and inevitably, the gods at Google figure this out and adjust their algorithm accordingly, with the result that your ratings plunge down down down.
This was underlined by a recent article by Ruth Burr on SEOmoz which stressed that SEO needs to be approached as more of a process with a long-term outlook versus an event that you do 1x.
It certainly seems much harder to repeatedly create high quality content and establish valuable linking relationships than it is to hit up link directories, spin content to syndicate on article sites & blog networks, drop a few comment spam links and buy a few links to cap things off. But these dubious SEO tactics are being proactively punished as a result of the latest Google algorithm update.
In the same way that exercise and eating healthy never stop working for weight loss, there are some tactics that will never stop working for SEO:
1. Get your keywords right.
Research the terms and phrases people use to search for your products or services and then repeatedly use those terms and phrases on your website – but not to an obsessive or excessive level. If they don’t seem to work straight away that’s OK, the key is to keep researching and experimenting until they do.
2. Make your site easy to crawl.
Make sure a search engine can find every page on your site, read the content and figure out what the page is about (i.e. what keywords it should rank for). Flash introduction pages may look fancy but they actually make this task harder for the spider assigned to crawl your site.
3. Fix the broken stuff on your site.
Remove all duplicate content, fix crawl errors, and make your site faster and easier to navigate. Create a Google Webmaster Tools account for your site and use it to find and fix problems.
4. Create compelling content.
I’m sorry, but your newest product feature does not count. Create valuable, relevant, fresh, engaging and shareable content. Help your prospects by increasing their understanding about – or making them better at – something important to them. It’s about them. Not you.
5. Build relationships to build links.
You probably know the best way to rank in the search engines is to build links to your site from other high-authority sites with whom you share a topic or audience. But for the best results, build relationships with those sites that can earn you links again and again. Drop an email to a real person, have a conversation, look for common ground and ideas. Offer to do one guest blog for them per month and vice versa, for example. Fewer healthy, valuable relationships is better than a multitude of superficial ones.
6. Make it easy to navigate.
Provide a superior user-experience for visitors so they spend more time on your site (search engines will reward you for this). When was the last time you audited each page for internal links?