Seo strategy

Create an “ethical” SEO strategy

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Anyone with online business interests, especially small and medium-sized businesses, probably knows that Google continually updates its algorithms to improve the quality of its search results.

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SEO, as a result, has become a bit of a dirty word, with many webmasters shying away from it altogether for fear of being hit with a penalty and losing valuable organic traffic. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

Entrepreneurs can still create a high-quality user experience on their site by using ethical SEO strategies, while avoiding practices that can end up doing more harm than good.

Here’s how:

Focus on the user. Google wants everyone to focus on providing a great user experience.


So before every change you make to a site, ask yourself the following question: does this change make things better or worse for my visitors?

Related: Send an SOS: How to Avoid an SEO Disaster

In terms of SEO, the happier people are with your site, the more likely Google will give your page ranking a boost and the more traffic you will get.

There are a number of algorithmic updates responsible for directly measuring user experience. A good example is the layout algorithm which penalizes sites with too many ads above the fold.

It makes sense to put a limit on the amount of advertising that can be crammed at the top of a page, because otherwise visitors end up having to search for the content they want, which can be infuriating.

Improve technical and structural referencing. Many businesses fail to reach their full potential due to unnecessary technical issues that they may not even be aware of, even if Google is.

Even seemingly minor technical issues can lead to significant traffic loss. Many smaller sites tend to have poor performance, which slows server response times and page load times. Also, many business owners lack the technical knowledge to ensure that their sites return the correct server response codes.

Make sure you understand your web platform and that Google crawls and indexes it properly.

Generate only original and quality content. It’s far better to have one great article that tops the search results in your particular niche than to waste time generating dozens or hundreds of mediocre articles.

Related: 5 Very Simple SEO Tricks to Save You Time

But, at the same time, know that Google is simply not able to understand what you have written. He cannot pass any judgment on the intrinsic quality of what you said, he is wrong frequently. The problem here is that because Google can’t decide if your content is valuable, it instead relies on a host of other signals (like domain authority).

This means that the best articles in the world will not rank well unless other people read them and talk about them.

This creates dangerous, honeypot conditions for content creators and writers trying to attract an audience by writing guest blogs or allowing content curators to post their material.

Don’t fall into the trap of sharing your content with curators. While Google supports many curators with high rankings, it may well penalize you for duplicate content or simply rank the duplicate version above the original.

It’s only worth creating content for other people if there are significant benefits in terms of exposure and visibility. There is little to no search benefit in guest blogging and article marketing.

Avoid paid links. Most webmasters mistakenly assume it’s not a “paid link” simply because they didn’t pay directly for a backlink.

Indeed, any link that is not an editorial decision (ie a link placed by the author because it is beneficial and relevant to the reader) can be considered a paid link.

Related: Why The Rap Genius Story Is Really About Google

Keep in mind that you can only earn backlinks, you cannot buy them.

Many small businesses have been caught off guard after hiring an offshore SEO agency for $5 an hour to promote their site. The only thing that can be bought for $5 an hour is thousands of low quality backlinks that will give you a Google Penguin penalty.

Penguin penalties are extremely difficult to clear. Not least because once your backlinks have entered the toxic, spammy underbelly of the web, they continue to persist and grow long after you’ve halted payments.

Avoid link schemes and anything to do with paying for backlinks.

Don’t focus on research. The current situation tends to exasperate newcomers to the web.

Google can’t recognize quality content directly, and it won’t rank that content highly without other strong signals like high visibility, trust, authority, and backlinks. But, you are not allowed to build links artificially, so it is difficult to build domain authority.

The answer is to treat SEO and Google as icing on the cake. Build your business on the power of relationships and face-to-face networking and marketing (or at the very least via social media).

It takes a long time to do things like this, but companies that build their own authority and influence are the ones that ultimately do well in Google.

Related: Drive Traffic to Your Site with These 4 Blogging Alternatives