SEO has changed quite a bit over the course of the last few years, and many people attempting to optimize their website in order to gain higher rankings will now find themselves frustrated as they try everything they have been told or read online, only to have their rankings remain stagnant, or potentially even dropping to lower levels the more SEO is done. While there are many reasons that this can happen, we must keep in mind the SEO signals that provide value today along with those that do not. We must also understand that the “content is kind” expression that has dominated our discussions of SEO over the course of the last few years has been replaced by “quality content is king.” Lets take a look at how we got to this point, and how things have changed.
You used to be able to create rankings for specific keywords using a combination of meta-data, content and links. In the early stages, Google concentrated on identifying low quality links, or those that could be easily manipulated in order to flush out websites who were trying to rank vs those who were legitimately providing quality information. It used to be that you just needed links form other sites, and morphed into needing links from sites that were in the same genre of business as you, or maybe the same geographical location. This was soon exploited by SEO companies and the focus shifted to links coming from high quality websites in the same genre of business that wrapped the link in text that was on topic for the keywords that were used in the link itself. This became difficult to manipulate, and as such proved to be a viable ranking factor for Google. In addition, Google began looking for text on websites that was on topic, and began devaluing things like titles and descriptions as it got better at understanding what the theme of the article was. While titles and descriptions are still a viable ranking factor, they have very little weight now compared to the past, and obsessing about writing “SEO perfect” titles and descriptions is now going to not create the rankings boosts that it once did. Chances are changing the titles and descriptions of your content and posts might move you up one place, but rarely is it going to create any more of a move than that. Most of the time it will not do anything at all.
So what do we need to do for SEO in 2017? Concentrate on content both on your website and off of it. Do not bother posting content that is less than 500 words, and make sure it is completely unique and hand-written. We like to split our content 50/50 between onsite and offsite, and we like to link back from the offsite content to targeted pages within our site and not the front page. Use a diverse set of linking phrases, and avoid using the exact same linking phrase too much. Keep your text diverse and make sure that you post often. Keep in mind that SEO takes upwards of 12 months at this point, where we used to quote 3-6 months we are now saying 6-12. Google is using very developed methods of understanding your content and it is not going to shoot you into a number one position with one article on a subject. You are going to have to be diligent, always have a point, and make sure you provide good information on the topic.
Do that enough and rankings will come over time.