We all know that the world of search engine optimization (SEO) is constantly evolving and changing. What once worked ten years ago is likely to generate a huge penalty if applied to a website today. Having read up on and even tested black hat SEO tactics while trying to see what is working and what is not in the world of SEO I can tall you that about 10 years ago, anyone could game the search engines with cheap tools just by spamming their link across the Internet with whatever anchor text they wanted their website to rank for. I know it sounds crazy but once upon a time, spammy link building was king and worked really well.
If you look at the algorithms from Google over the past five years, you can see that spammy links will eventually penalize your site. Google updates such as Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird over the years were introduced to make it a lot more challenging to game the search results within Google. The number one search engine takes a lot more into account now than just the links your site has pointing at it. Looking beyond just the number of links, Google takes a look at your anchor text diversity. If you have your primary keyword as your main anchor text across the Internet, it is going to look a bit strange as what are the odds that everyone who links to your site will always be using your primary keyword? Having anchor text diversity is key to not triggering an over optimization penalty. Keyword stuffing in terms of on page SEO is also a big issue and can cause your site to become penalized. While keyword stuffing worked really well once upon a time, it was an easy way for people to game the search engines. Now if you have your pages built with too many keywords that you are trying to rank for, you can expect to see negative results as the search engine knows exactly what you are trying to accomplish and will deal with your site appropriately.
As social networking has really blown up over the past 10 years, new ranking factors have been speculated by many in the SEO industry. Social signals are any type of activity that occur on the larger social networks, such as a Facebook like, or Facebook share. Other social signals include number of Twitter followers, likes, and retweets, the number of Google Plus shares, or +1’s, how many Pinterest shares or re-pins you get. The power of social signals is currently a bit up in the air at the moment. Since Google does not have huge insights into Facebook, it can only crawl pages and collect names, likes, and shares, this does not make Facebook social signals very authoritative. Just as in the days of spammy links, it is relatively easy to gain Facebook social signals with fake accounts and automated tools. Other social signals that may be of stronger value are those from Google’s own Google Plus social network. As Google owns the platform, they have more more of an insight as to whether or not a social signal such as a +1 or share is from a real user or a fake account. Goolge and Twitter also have formed partnerships in the past to allow the search provider more up to the minute news related to tweets from users. It may be possible that within the partnership, Google has more access and insights to just names, tweets, re-tweets, and followers.
Many have speculated that social signals will eventually determine what ranks; however, this is currently not the case. While social signals might be helpful, it is important that the social signals are legitimate and from authoritative people within your niche. The same holds true for trying to gain links. If you are doing any type of link building, you want to try and get links from authoritative sources such as trusted news outlets like the Wall Street Journal, CNN, or The Huffington Post. Links from these sites are very authoritative and highly trusted by search engines. Obviously, not every website is going to have something that is news worthy; for them, it is important to try and get links from other niche relevant websites. If you have a product, see if a website would be interested in reviewing it. If you are an expert in your field, offer to write an article for a larger authority site in your niche. These are just a couple of ways to get your website a link from a trusted website which will help improve your website ranking in the search engines.
As I mentioned earlier, the SEO game is always changing. Right now, links still seem to hold the most value; however, it is important that you build your links the right way. If you do it incorrectly or try and be sneaky, you can bet that eventually you will be penalized. Once your site is penalized, it can be very difficult to fix going forward. If you would like assistance building quality links to your website or improving your social signals feel free to contact us for a free consultation and let us show you how we can help!