Amine is a tech entrepreneur and writer. He is currently the CMO at Regal Assets and CEO at IronMonk Solutions.
As the founder of two full-service digital marketing companies that have each been in business for over a decade, I’ve learned a thing or two about best practices over the years. For the most part, they’re fluid — what was once considered a best practice in 2011 may now be a major no-no in 2022.
However, there are some tactics that I wish I never would’ve taken seriously, even on day one. These techniques are neutral at best (i.e., they don’t benefit your marketing KPIs) and, at worst, can cost you dearly. In this article, I’ve decided to quickly touch on the top things I wish I’d done differently at the start of my SEO marketing career so you don’t have to learn the hard way.
1. Write For People, Not Robots
Far too often, SEO marketers write copy that’s stuffed with keywords and industry-specific jargon that is borderline impenetrable to casual readers. Avoid this as if your website depends on it — because it does.
Top-performing websites with lots of organic traffic and high conversion rates generally aren’t riddled with keywords in every sentence. Instead, they’re clear and value-driven. They don’t care about appealing to Google’s PageRank algorithm nearly as much as they care about creating a pleasant user experience for the visitor.
This is the golden rule of SEO. If you can create a value-driven website that caters to the needs and interests of your customer, you should be well on your way to ranking well.
2. Don’t Ignore The Technical Side
Technical SEO is huge, and I’ve found that it’s only becoming a more relevant ranking factor as time goes by. If you ignore the underlying technical elements that are responsible for your visitors’ user experience, then you’re bound to be penalized by Google’s algorithms.
There are a handful of technical SEO factors that you should keep tabs on:
• Each page should use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption.
• Each page should be optimized for mobile web browsers.
• Each page should load in three milliseconds or faster.
• Make sure duplicate content isn’t indexed in the website’s XML sitemap.
• Each page should feature structured data markups.
If these sound like IT mumbo-jumbo to you, you can either consult a web developer for assistance or check out online guides: Moz offers one, as does Backlinko. And don’t worry: I have no affiliation with either company. I just find their SEO tutorials super-helpful.
3. Diversify Your Content Offerings
An effective SEO content strategy incorporates so much more than blog articles. While these are no doubt the backbone of any rankable SEO plan, you should change things up from time to time to generate new traffic, build backlinks and establish your website’s brand.
For instance, I strongly recommend spicing things up by adding in one of these alternative content offerings every so often:
• Infographics (which have strong viral potential if people share them on message boards and social media).
• YouTube videos.
• Instagram Reels and TikTok videos.
• Quora and Reddit answers to community questions.
• Podcast guest episodes.
• Guest blog posts on reputable websites.
In other words, throw some curveballs into your SEO strategy. Don’t be afraid to broaden your understanding of what “content” is, and pursue new content delivery avenues fearlessly.
4. Don’t Lose Sleep Over Rankings
Search engine algorithms are fickle things that their development teams constantly tweak, refine and overhaul. Sometimes this means you could slide in ranking position from five to six overnight without explanation.
If this happens, don’t stress. Focus on your plan and don’t make any rash changes. Instead, wait a couple of weeks to see if it naturally corrects. More often than not, I’ve found that small ranking adjustments revert to their prior status after a week or two. If yours doesn’t, take the hit on the chin and carry on as usual with your strategy. If you focus on creating excellent content, you’ll usually be rewarded in the long run.
5. Earn Backlinks The Hard Way
Everyone wants to rank, but few of us want to put in the elbow grease necessary to snag a top SERP position. To build a rankable website, it helps to have other highly authoritative websites link to your website. These are called “backlinks” and, without them, ranking for a competitive search term is more difficult.
Back in the day, lots of website owners would collude by creating private backlink networks in which one website would link to another in exchange for a link that pointed back to them. Today, these are considered black hat SEO techniques and will elicit a penalty if Google detects them, as I wrote about in a recent article.
Never purchase backlinks or cheat your way into acquiring them. Instead, earn them by creating the best content available and by sharing it widely with interested readers. This is the only credible way to build a backlink profile for your website.
Put It All Together
Taken together, I believe these SEO rules are necessary conditions for success, but not sufficient ones. In other words, just because you follow these rules doesn’t guarantee you’re going to rank. Whether or not you rank also comes down to the quality of your content, your ingenuity and creativity, and the competitiveness of your niche.
With that said, SEO strategies should respect these rules in 2022 to remain legitimate. And, if you want to rank in today’s increasingly competitive SEO landscape, you should as well.