The Changing Landscape of SEO or “How To Do SEO in 2014”
As a dedicated server, colocation, and cloud hosting company, many of our clients are very focused on SEO and attaining the best search rankings possible for their brand. I’ve written this article to explain some of the best ways to do SEO in 2014 and highlight some of the things that should be avoided in today’s SEO landscape.
For search engine ranking purposes, unless you’re eBay or Amazon, chances are good that Google doesn’t give a damn about who or what your company is. The days of registering a domain name filled with keywords (like “free-website-hosting.info”) to get ranked highly on Google are long gone, and though that strategy is more effective on Bing, Google still retains nearly 70% market share, which means that you should be focusing on the things that work for Google, and the rest should come secondary. As Google’s SEO algorithms get more and more complex, Google does its best to scan the internet for the best and most useful content, and ranks those sites it thinks have better content higher. Years ago, one could “cheat” by simply paying inexpensive overseas writers to generate content and then “spin” it and republish it all over the internet to trick Google into thinking that your company was producing a lot of quality articles. In 2014, the landscape has significantly changed to the point that this practice is actually going to harm you more than it helps you. If you run a small marketing business in Los Angeles, you better be writing weekly articles about the latest SEO techniques and how to apply those techniques to a geographic niche, or Google is going to essentially see you as an advertisement rather than a producer of quality content, and your website traffic, and thus business, is going to flounder as a result.
First and foremost, Google generates its search engine results and rankings from links. Though there have been numerous attempts to use different strategies for crawling the internet, links are really the only way for a search engine (and thus, an end-user or client) to learn about you. Several years ago, the link-building empire was dominated by bots designed to spam the internet with links to your site. As Google’s algorithms have become more complex, this method became increasingly less effectual, since Google is able to recognize these links as being spammy, and anything that Google considers to not be genuine, it’s going to ignore, or in some cases, even penalize. A common misconception is that if you do spammy link-building in 2014, Google is going to penalize and delist you, which, though it may have some degree of truth to it depending on the extent and how the link-building is done, is for the most part simply false. Consider this: you’re a webhosting company, “webhostjim.com”, and you have a competitor, “webhostbob.com”. webhostbob.com doesn’t like that you offer their plan for $1/month cheaper, so they use a spammy link-building robot to blast the internet full of links to webhostjim.com, full of mentions to Viagra and online casinos, just for good measure. Google is smart enough to realize that this may not have originated from webhostjim.com and that Jim could very easily be the target of a malicious attack from a competitor, so Google doesn’t penalize these links, but instead completely ignores them. Link building in 2014 needs to focus on quality, which means that you should be looking for websites with high page rank and negotiating for links there. Static links on the homepage of high-pagerank websites are going to be the most beneficial by far, and it will be fairly evident that they’re helping when you look at your Google Webmaster Tools.
Use Google’s Tools
Google provides numerous tools to help you ensure that you’re getting the best rankings out of your website that you possibly can. Google Webmaster Tools will analyze your site for errors (like duplicate title tags or missing pages), and will even show you where most of your external links are coming from. Google Analytics will provide even more information and show you everything you could possibly want to know about your visitors – who they are, where they’re coming from, what they do on your website, etc. etc. You should be checking these statistics daily and modifying/improving your on-site content, code, etc. to better cater to your user base.
Your business/organization should have profiles on every widely-used social media platform that currently exists. Don’t underestimate the importance of having a Facebook profile, Twitter account, Instagram, Reddit, etc. However, with this also comes a certain amount of responsibility: while you don’t need to be making hourly posts on all of these mediums, you do need to keep them fairly updated and publish quality content on them. This doesn’t mean that you need to write 10-page essays about the meaning of “colocation”, but it does mean that you should try to publish a tip-of-the-day, or even just an amusing image related to your business. Once you start doing this, you’ll be surprised how many new people start “liking” your posts and sharing them with their friends, etc.
Keep Up With New Techniques
Google just announced that they’ll be rewarding websites that use HTTPS (the secure HTTP protocol) and giving them priority in search rankings. This is huge news, and indeed really fantastic news if using HTTPS wasn’t something you were previously doing. That means that one small and relatively simple change is going to have a noticeable and verified positive difference in your search rankings (the news came directly from Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team). Check websites like Moz for updates to Google’s algorithm on a fairly regular basis, and it’s not a bad idea to even follow Matt Cutts (@MattCutts) on Twitter, since you’ll likely get the inside scoop before others have it. Try to implement any changes that are suggested as quickly as possible so that you’ll gain the maximum benefit from it.
Monitor Your Site
Set up website monitors to make sure that your site is always up and accessible. If you’re using a $5/year “unlimited” webhost for your mission-critical business website, there’s a good chance that it’s down or loading slowly a significant percentage of the time. Not only does this turn off prospective clients (website load time has been proven to have a direct impact on visitor perception of your site), but if Google is unable to access your website, especially multiple times in a row, you run the risk of being demoted in rankings, or even completely removed. Consider spending a little bit more money on a quality host that can provide you with dedicated resources for your website(s). If you’re getting a significant amount of traffic, you may want to consider renting your own dedicated server. Otherwise, if you prefer to purchase your own hardware and manage your own machines, colocation is a good fit. Keep in mind that the location of your hosting is also important – if most of your traffic is from China, for instance, you’ll want to be sure that you’re in a location that not only has good routes to China, but also has reliable power, network, etc., such as Los Angeles, California.
Though QuadraNet isn’t an SEO company, the hosting industry is closely interlinked with the online marketing community, since hosting is an integral part of SEO. If you have questions about SEO or how QuadraNet can help your company accomplish its SEO needs through better server or cloud hosting, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.