SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) can seem incredibly complex to the uninitiated, especially since the experts will tell you that it’s a constantly changing discipline that demands a great deal of flexibility from practitioners. However, while the effectiveness of individual tactics and strategies can vary depending on updates to search engine algorithms, there is still general sense of where the industry is going and there are definitely certain guidelines that should be followed at all times.
Based on this, we can identify several ‘golden rules’ that every business needs to follow in order to maximise the effectiveness of their SEO strategy and to avoid making costly mistakes. Let’s take a look at some of the most widely accepted rules that all good SEO’s should adhere to.
Create value for users
While this rule may seem rather broad at first, it isn’t hard to understand what Google means when it tells you to always focus on creating value for users. Basically, unless search engines become something completely alien to how we understand them, they will always benefit from an abundance of original, authoritative and high quality content from the websites that they index.
Think about it; people are more likely to use a specific search engine if it always gives them the best results. This means that search engines are more likely to rank your website highly if you are contributing to those ‘best results’.
As search engines become more advanced and ‘human-like’ in the ways they evaluate online content, this rule becomes more and more important for practitioners to follow. This can be seen in the way search engines like Google will serve harsh punishments, including outright bans from their search index, for websites that sacrifice sincere quality at the altar of short-term profit.What does this all mean? It means that whatever kind of content you create, even if it’s ostensibly serving a commercial marketing purpose, needs to provide genuine value to users.
Search engines like Google tacitly endorse content marketing that ‘plays fair’. When creating content for SEO purposes, you need to make sure you understand and follow certain rules lest you incur the wrath of spam-fighting search algorithms.
Disavow irrelevant backlinks
This one is pretty simple; if you have a link pointing to your domain on another website that’s totally irrelevant to yours, it looks bad for you. Search engines see this as a failure on your part to disassociate your domain with these irrelevant websites and this will bring down your SEO efforts quite significantly.
For example, a link pointing to your domain on an adult site will look pretty horrible if you’re in the childcare business. While that might be an extreme example, it illustrates the importance of not allowing your URL to be hosted on domains that are totally inappropriate for your business.
Luckily, disavowing links to your domain can be taken care of very easily. For example, Google has a disavow tool that lets you upload a simple text file that lists the sites you want to disassociate with your domain.
Make sure your website looks great and performs well for users
This golden rule of SEO probably won’t go out of fashion anytime soon since having a website that provides an excellent user experience will always be favoured by search engines. The look and function of your website is just as important as the content hosted on it when it comes to keeping users on the page.
Search engines want their users to find what they’re looking for in as few clicks as possible. This means that a high quality website that loads quickly is going to have a higher chance of leaving users satisfied with their search.
As you have probably already guessed; search engines love this and will reward these high quality websites with a significant rankings boost. At the end of the day, it’s all about the user and the experience that search engines want to give them.
When performing any kind of SEO always make sure that you keep the above rules in the forefront of your mind so that you can ensure none of your efforts go to waste. Sticking to these basic guidelines is the best way to ensure you don’t annoy search engines and incur any penalties or bans that will kill your digital presence.
As our marketing manager, James takes on the responsibility of overseeing the creation of original, persuasive and high quality content that is an integral part of how we achieve success for our clients. Through his experience working in the SEO field, James has developed a robust understanding of core digital marketing principles and has a particular interest in the growing importance of sincere and engaging content in world where issues like ‘fake news’ have become a major talking point.