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Friday, 23 November 2012

Friday Guest Blog: The Changing Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Landscape

By Julaine Speight of First Internet

I believe that the SEO landscape of 2012 is hugely different to what it has been in the past. In this blog, I’ll explain how times have changed, what you need to consider when taking care of your website and the key strategies for link building.

When considering the changing SEO landscape of 2012, there’s almost too much to talk about. Over the past year Google has rolled out algorithm updates, which have put into practice all the principles they have always deemed important when ranking websites. However, the effects of these updates (you may have heard the terms Panda or Penguin knocking about) have wreaked havoc on the rankings of many websites, delivering results which aren’t perhaps as fair as Google might have us believe. Whether we like it or not, Google is still in charge and if you follow their principles then your site should stand a good chance of ranking highly.

Content is still king, and more so than ever. However, any attempt to “manipulate” the rankings using this content will almost definitely backfire. Keyword stuffing (the over-use of internal links and specific region-based landing pages) are a definite no-no. The content of your website needs to be the best content you can put together. It should be relevant, engaging and informative for the visitor. Important aspects of a website include FAQs and case studies , both of which are extremely helpful to the visitor and therefore will help the SEO of your website. Most importantly the content should look as natural as possible- making it both interesting and informative for the visitor.

Another tip is that over optimisation could kill your rankings. Google is more sensitive than ever to the over optimisation of your website. Anything that looks unnatural both on and offsite will wave a red flag to Google, something that could see your rankings completely disappear!

Whereas before your SEO company may have encouraged you to focus on a few important keywords, now if Google detects a heavy reliance on only a few phrases then it’s unlikely that you’ll rank for them. Spread your keyword net wider than you may have done in the past – it may take you longer to achieve the rankings you’re looking for but it will appear more natural to Google and will benefit you in the long run.

Offsite SEO should look as natural as anything you would put on your website. Many website owners found themselves saddled with bad link warnings through Google Webmaster Tools, which first came through in April, and have since been trying to get these bad links removed. Google has now introduced the Disavow tool for anyone struggling to remove all of their bad links – however this tool has the potential to backfire. Links, even if considered lower value, are still helpful for your SEO and disavowing too many of your links could potentially undo many years of good SEO work to build up your rankings.

Consult a SEO expert if you are concerned about bad links pointing to your website. They’ll be able to examine your “link profile” (links pointing to your site) and advise you on the best course of action.

Google’s SEO principles haven’t really changed; they’ve simply become stricter about enforcing the above rules, making it essential that your website is up to scratch and delivering the best possible results!

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