Over the last years, SEO has turned to a never-ending headache for internet marketers, entrepreneurs and business owners looking to promote their websites online. Adopting a solid and white hat SEO strategy can minimize their efforts to keep up with the regular algorithmic changes made by search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing. According to Google, it makes almost 500 algorithm changes every year, meaning at least once every single day. Just imagine the efforts to change your SEO strategies if you try to trick the search engines first instead considering the basic SEO principles from the beginning.
Most of the old-school SEO practices are deprecated or already dead. 2014 is the year of challenges in terms of SEO. Considering off-page SEO, building high quality and authoritative backlinks from valuable pages should be the cornerstone of your efforts. On the other hand, your on-page SEO efforts should basically focus on creating original, informative and user-centered content to attract more organic visitors, social media shares and prospect customers who will likely enjoy your website and buy the products or services you sell.
In an Internet world governed by Google, every website owner must follow Google's webmaster guidelines. They refer to design and content, technical issues, and quality guidelines. The most important is the quality of the page - requiring webmasters to avoid spam (either it is for content and links or image tags or 3rd party ads), cloaking, hidden texts or links, sneaky redirects, scrapped content and more.
Considering the link building strategies in 2014, let's see which practices are still working:
1. Guest blogging with nofollow tag for links
This practice came into force back in January 2014 when Matt Cutts released a post on his personal blog where he declared the old-school guest blogging for SEO purposes dead. What does it mean? Well, Google has been warning webmasters about guest blogging abuse for years. This practice became too spammy in the last time (just imagine Matt Cutts himself received guest blogging offers from several internet marketers in exchange of a fee LOL 🙂 ).
But is guest blogging really dead? In terms of SEO to pass PageRank-YES; but in terms of acquiring quality traffic-NO. Matt Cutts stated in a comment on his blog: â€žIf the links are nofollowed, then they don't affect PageRank, so it would be outside the scope of my team at that point. A high-quality guest post with nofollowed links can still be a good way to get exposure to a new audience, branding, etc." So, internet marketers, advertisers and webmasters are suggested to avoid dofollow and spammy link building practices at all costs. Not only will they lead their websites into derisory but other websites currently linked from these spam pages will feel the bad consequences soon or later.
LeraBlog also suffered such penalization back in February 2014 but adding the nofollow tag to absolutely all external links was the solution and the penalty was lifted two weeks later. So I personally recommend webmasters of guest blogging sites to use nofollow for all external links and publish quality content only.
2. Web directories with high editorial discretion
What is editorial discretion? It refers to the web directory owners who apply a certain level of control on what is worth listing and what does not meet the quality requirements according to Google guidelines. In this video Matt Cutts explains the differences between a good directory and a link farm. Watch it for further reference.
Upon doing a research myself, I compiled a list with some of the best quality web directories which apply the editorial discretion at a higher level. Even though they are widely not free, the review fee you must pay is worth the consideration and possible inclusion.
- Yahoo directory - PR 8: $299 per year recurring fee.
- Dmoz.org - PR 7: Free-hardly approves your listing but worth trying.
- Botw.org - PR 7: $149.95 per year recurring or $299.95 one-time fee.
- Jasmine Directory - PR 6: $39 standard review fee or $79 express review fee (both are one time).
- Business.com - PR 6: $299 review fee yearly recurring.
- DirJournal - PR 5: annual listing prices: $59.95 and 99.95 - permanent listing fees: $159.95 and $249.95
- Aviva Directory - PR 5: $49.95 per year or $149.95 one-time fee.
Please note all these directories consider several details such as the content (your site must be somehow useful for end-users), the title of your listing (use your official website title only), the site description-avoid spammy or misleading descriptions like… â€žOur website offers the best phone services on the Internet for the cheapest prices." Not only such a statement is fake (how do you know that you offer the best service for the cheapest price?) but also poisonous for search engines. Avoid using promotional language and superlatives when describing your product or service.
I personally had success with all the directories above and they were worth my money.
For more information and a list with more quality web directories worth submitting to, you may consider this post at LeraBlog.
Infographics can prove a powerful tool to acquire natural backlinks to your website. An interesting, eye-catching and overall useful infographic for end-users usually generates a good traffic and backlinks to your website. Of course you have to leverage some marketing strategies to make the infographic popular on different environments such as social networks, discussion boards, forums, etc… Once it becomes even a bit popular, it will self-promote. It will naturally get quality and authoritative links from relevant web pages. Should your infographic become viral by any means-you are really lucky, my friend! In such circumstances the possibility to acquire 100's of quality backlinks is guaranteed.
4. Social media
Social media websites are a great source of traffic for your page. Even though links from social media websites like Facebook, Tritter or Linkedin are nofollow or redirected they can actually drive a huge amount of visitors. All you have to do is to write good content and to implement the sharing buttons on each and every page of your website.
5. PR placements
PR placements is a great way to promote your content and associate it with your brand.
Another important aspect you have to consider is the design of your page. Beyond basic things like title, description, meta information, etc… what really matters are the layout, the content and the website usability. These aspects indirectly influence the SE rankings. Useful and interesting content which is well organized in a beautiful and easy to use layout translates to a positive user experience. Users will more likely want to share and bookmark your content for further reference. Google uses this data to algorithmically determine the interaction between users and your website to â€žmake an idea" of its quality.
Applying the SEO techniques described in this article will help you drive quality and targeted traffic to your website and stay safe against future algorithm updates.
Should you have any ideas, proposals or questions-please use the comments section below.