Being the top dog in the search engine realm, Google has the luxury of essentially dictating the state of the SEO industry. Whenever they decide to tweak their algorithm via updates like Panda, Penguin and Penguin 2.0, this heavily impacts which tactics are effective and which ones become defunct. To achieve favorable rankings and maintain them, it’s more important than ever to build your SEO strategy according to what Google wants in today’s post-Penguin 2.0 era. Here’s what’s working in 2013.
1. Create and Publish Awesome Content
Perhaps the best way to future-proof your rankings is by creating valuable content, and publishing that content to your website regularly. A few years ago, cheap tactics like article spinning, duplicate content and keyword stuffing could make a site rise to the top of the rankings. Now, these are considered black hat tactics that often lead to websites getting penalized. Emphasizing quality, and originality should put you on the right track and help maintain solid rankings, regardless of Google’s next move.
2. Cater to the Mobile Crowd
It should come as no surprise that smartphones and tablets are huge these days. A report from Marketing Land stated that “nearly 40 percent of Internet time is now being spent on mobile devices.” Understanding and basing your SEO efforts around this trend is important in 2013 and is likely to be a necessity in the coming years. One way to accommodate mobile users is to keep your website’s layout simple, and not overload it with excessive content.
Utilizing responsive web design is an ideal way to ensure a great experience on a variety of mobile devices as well as PCs, because it makes content easily viewable regardless of the screen size. Testing your site across a few devices should also help point out any issues that need to addressed.
3. Avoid Link Spam
Another strategy that worked not long ago but can now wreak havoc on your rankings is black-hat link building. Anything created solely for the purpose of acquiring a link is likely to be seen as spam and can end up hurting your rankings. That’s why it’s so important to clean up your backlinks by removing anything that could be deemed as spam.
4. Maintain Proper Sitemaps
Making it as simple as possible for search engines to index your content is crucial. Installing a sitemap is an excellent way to streamline this process, because it acts as a shortcut for indexing, allowing search engines to more quickly and easily find and index your content.
5. Use Safe Anchor Text
Not too long ago, it was popular to use exact-match anchor text for backlinks. This tactic worked, but it was an easy way for Google to identify unnaturally-obtained links. Google now sees this practice as a way to manipulate the rankings. Consequently, many sites have been penalized for an excessive amount of exact-match anchor text, which must now be avoided. Instead, diversify your anchor text so that it looks natural.
6. Publish Across a Variety of Media
While traditional text-based content still has value, integrating other forms of media like images, videos and audio can be helpful. Since you can add filenames and alt tags, this provides search engines with even more information to properly index content. Besides this, a variety of media should enhance the reader experience and increase the likelihood that content gets shared. Whether it’s a blog post or an email newsletter, peppering in one or more additional forms of media should provide a boost.
7. Engage in Social Sharing
People share the content they love through social media. Due to the massive volume of users on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc., it’s a convenient way for people to spread news and ideas. Capitalizing on this trend by installing social share buttons to your site can mean substantial exposure while improving search results at the same time.
By making it quick and easy for people to share your content on their favorite network, this can help it circulate over the web, reaching new audiences. Since Google’s entire aim is to provide its users with valuable and relevant content, the number of social shares that content receives is a terrific benchmark for quality and usefulness. For instance, a blog post that receives thousands of shares means that plenty of people find it entertaining or useful. Consequently, the more social shares you receive, the better odds you have of climbing the rankings.