The rules of the SEO game have changed over the years, but columnist Pratik Dholakiya has some solid strategies for increasing search visibility and authority that you can safely use in 2016.
Improving your rankings isn’t as simple as it used to be. As businesses have become more invested in SEO, search ranking algorithms have grown smarter and more sophisticated. The result is that many techniques that used to be acceptable are now considered gray-hat or black-hat — and in some cases, can even earn you a traffic-throttling Google penalty.
Still, the challenge remains: We need links, we need traffic, and we need rankings. How do we achieve this in an ethical manner?
Luckily, there are still powerful white-hat strategies you can leverage to improve rankings. Here are five of the best that we at E2M use successfully to this day.
1. Guest posts
Guest posting has been contested territory for some time. Back in 2014, Google’s then-head of webspam, Matt Cutts, advised that guest posting was increasingly ineffective at building links. If you’re doing a lot of guest posting, he warned, “you’re hanging out with some really bad company.”
It’s easy to see why guest posting has come under fire in recent years. After all, guest blogs used to be a really easy way to get backlinks — maybe a little too easy. All too often, the standard guest post is 500 words long, includes no links to sources (other than the author’s own website) and presents no thoughtful commentary or new insight.
I’m not saying you can’t have a worthwhile 500-word post. Of course you can. But the majority of guest bloggers aren’t looking at readers’ concerns. They don’t care whether you derive value from the post or not. They care about getting a link, and they’ve nailed the absolute bare minimum required to achieve that end.
That drags the name of the “guest blogger” into the mud. But it also gives you an opportunity.
Rather than focus on acquiring links, guest blogging can help with SEO in other, less direct ways. By consistently posting excellent, in-depth content on relevant blogs, you’ll drive up authority and get more social shares, along with signs of quality that Google takes seriously. You’re also more likely to get actual traffic to your website from high-quality content — which is what link building is supposed to be about anyway.
Stuffing low-quality posts with links to your site — or paid third-party links — may be a thing of the past. But guest blogging is still a powerful tool to increase authority and search visibility.
Infographics are a powerful way of getting a point across quickly and intuitively. That’s one reason why they’re so popular. But they’re also an effective way of getting high-quality backlinks quickly.
The trick to getting that to happen is in the embed code. After you create your infographic, you can use a tool like the SeigeMedia Embed Code Generator to build the code. This is the code that people who want to post your infographic to their own site will use.
So include a request to link back to your site, and make it easy by bundling exactly the URL you want them to use into the infographic’s embed code. That way, they can’t avoid seeing it. Sure, some people will ignore it, but most people will attribute your infographic when they post it — and make the attribution a hyperlink back to your site. Bingo!
To get your infographic in front of more people, use infographic publishers (Visual.ly is one). Most will want a 70-or-so-word description of the infographic; then they’ll store it, and when other content marketers and bloggers want a graphic, they’ll be more likely to find yours. The free infographic publisher landscape changes quite quickly, so to make sure you’re not putting your content on dead sites.
Want some extra juice? On those sites, you can search for infographics on the same subject as yours, then reach out to users who have accessed those infographics and ask if they’d be interested in yours. Our annual infographic on Google’s algorithm updates (now in its fourth year) was picked up by Entrepreneur, Social Media Today, Marketing Land and more!
3. Personal blogs of the CEO & other employees
Blogging lets you connect with your readers. Most blogs are written in an informal, conversational style that’s a long way from what you’d see in a newspaper or magazine. And that’s true of professional blogs, too.
Using personal blogs at work — the CEO’s blog, for instance — can be a way to generate content that feels natural and personal. These people can blog about their own interests, and those interests are bound to overlap with the company’s targeting.
Blogs like this are also a way to offer specific insights, because certain employees will know things no one else on your team knows. For example, what are the legal implications of the product you’re developing? Get someone from legal to blog about it. Suddenly, readers in a similar position at other companies suddenly have a reason to read this content.
Personal professional blogs can be done one of two ways. You can offer a multi-voice blog on your company website, either as posts within the larger company blog or as separate sections with their own visual branding. Or you can have team members blog on their own domains and occasionally refer back to the company blog when it’s appropriate.