Online brands can’t afford not to optimize their web properties for search engines. According to a study from BrightEdge, organic search drives 51% of all online traffic, while social media only accounts for 5%.
Unfortunately, creating a viable long-term SEO strategy is difficult, because Google is constantly changing its algorithm to stay a step ahead of spammers (or catch up to them, however you want to look at it). Many of the old-school SEO strategies just don’t work as much anymore.
Antiquated SEO strategies often involve the following:
- Building links through directories, article farm sites and other low quality sources
- Using spammy “guest posts”
- Filling your site with empty, keyword stuffed content human readers don’t care to read
If you are still following these practices, it is time to stop. Here are some reasons that doesn’t work anymore and what you need to do differently.
Low Quality Sources Are Disappearing
I remember building my first affiliate site seven years ago. I used a lot of article directories to build links, such as Article Base and Article Factory.
I just looked over an old list on the top article directories from 2010 (the year I started). It seems about half of those sites have fallen off the face of the earth. They were deindexed by Google for spam and decided to close up shop.
If you plan on using low quality “content marketing” strategies, your options for second-tier sites are now few and far between. You will probably be wasting your time anyways, because many of the existing sites you do get links from will disappear soon.
Other Spammy Sites Are Nofollowing Links
On September 11, 2014, Ezine Articles made an announcement that almost shook the SEO community to its core. They stated that all links would have the “nofollow” tag added to them.
This was a big deal, because Ezine had always been the number one linkbuilding source for many SEOs for years.
Plenty of other sites have followed suit. Squidoo and HubPages currently nofollow all links.
If you want to build dofollow links these days, you need to earn them from quality web properties that aren’t made for that purpose.
The Google Webspam Team is Out in Full Force
You may be able to get some unnatural links that boost your SEO, but it won’t last if Google does a manual review of your site or the portals you generated links from. Google has been spending more time than ever looking for sites that don’t follow their quality guidelines.
This was most obvious in 2013 after Matt Cutts, head of Google’s web spam team, announced that guest blogging for SEO was dead.
“Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.
Back in the day, guest blogging used to be a respectable thing, much like getting a coveted, respected author to write the introduction of your book. It’s not that way any more.”
Cutts and his team started chasing down guest blogging directories and penalizing their users. Numerous sites that were part of MyBlogGuest, PostJoint and other guest blogging communities were promptly deindexed.
If you want to have a long-term SEO strategy, you need to use natural links on quality sites. Filling third-party websites with spammy, keyword optimized links may work well for a few months, but Google will eventually slap your site hard.
Social Signals May Replace Links Soon
Matt Cutts has suggested that Google will eventually value social signals more than links. They don’t seem to have the technology to do this yet, but soon they will. Instead of spending all your time building links, it may be good to start investing in your Facebook presence and buy Instagram likes to show Google you are a real site with an actual community.