The only logical strategy…
I rarely post the words of others. However on this occasion the founder of MOZ, Rand Fishkin gets to say it in his own words. Why? Because he is without a shadow of a doubt, totally and utterly right.
“The ‘find and abuse exploits’ era of SEO is ending. The only strategy today is to be so good that Google looks bad taking you out.”
There is no longer any point in asking ‘what trick did my competitor use to get a few places above me in the Google search results?’ Unless you have a team of tens of thousands of geniuses working on your SEO (and you dont!) you will never unpick the ever changing Google algorithm. Besides, every time Google see an anomalous result, they change the rules to try and remove it.
So logic dictates that the only path to success is to consistently build your brand. Integrate your marketing across platforms and above all, make your website useful to your readership.
Talk like this frightens the little guy, and to an extent it should. When small companies try to compete with big companies directly the odds are generally stacked against them. This is as true of the web today as it was for fishmongers in the middle ages.
However, just as true is that company confound the odds. Just because the fishmonger down the road is bigger doesn’t mean you cant prosper. You just have to get up 10 minutes earlier and get the freshest fish from the dockside back to your market stall before he does.
Or, to translate that into the internet world, to beat the odds, you need to make your website do one thing that people want and do it better than the competitors.
However there was this brief period of 15 years or so when small startups beat the odds, not by being good at something, but by being sneaky. The web (or to be specific the search engines) presented them with a system where the market visibility of their website was disassociated from the quality of the content on that site.
For many MDs it was a case of “forget the quality, hire me an SEO specialist and get me to the top of Google.”
But as Fishkin (who always wears yellow trainers at conferences to help those with poor facial memory remember him better) says, those days are over. You might still hear old school SEO people promising results regardless of the quality of the website, but they are dinosaurs from a bygone age. The web is evolving. You might, or might not like the fact, but it is evolving nonetheless.
Quality of content is getting more and more important as the search algorithms evolve. So, if you take a drop in visits or search ranking, look at your stats: Drop out rates, time spent on page, pages per visit, conversions and a whole host of more complex metrics have had to replace Google position for a particular term as the prime way to view your web marketing success or failure.
Now comes the really important bit. Close down your analytics, visit your own website with a fresh pair of eyes and ask yourself.
“Is this website the best it can be?”