School’s In Session: New School Vs. Old School SEO

I’m going to pull a dad move and give you a “back in my day” story. I’m not going to talk about how I used to walk uphill both ways in the snow to get to school — thank goodness. But I am going to tell a short story about old school Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how it’s changed dramatically. Back in the day (ok just a few years ago), you used to be able to rank well in search results by following a pretty simple formula:

  1. Pick the one term you want to rank well.
  2. Put that exact term into the meta page title and description as well as meta keywords.
  3. For good measure, add that term into your page URL.
  4. Make sure to add it to the actual title of the page, and then squeeze that exact term into the page a few more times (ok, as much as you can).
  5. Worry more about getting the keyword in there for search engines and don’t worry so much about readability for the user.
  6. Buy a few cheap backlinks.

Bingo, bango – good search rankings for that keyword.

New School SEO Has Changed the Game

Fast forward to today and things have changed — dramatically. To help illustrate this, we have put together a quick summary that compares old school SEO strategy to today’s standards:

Let’s dig into each of these a bit more:

The Keys to SEO Results Today:

  1. Incorporate more semantically related search terms.

    You can no longer just focus on one term and stuff that into your page. You have to use your focus keyword, related keywords and then secondary related keywords. Don’t focus and get stuck on one single term. Pick a topic, and then build in content throughout your page and your site that incorporates a variety of terms tied to that topic. Here is a great chart from Moz.com that illustrates this in action:

    If your target keyword is White House, you may also have to include content with terms like President, Washington, Government, Fake News, Russia (ok, let’s not get too political here). Google’s new algorithms look at searcher intent, semantic relationships, contextual indicators and much more to determine if you should rank well for a given topic or not.

  2. Improve Click-Through Rate, Time-on-Site and Other User-Experience Stats

    Google’s “Rank Brain” looks at statistics to determine if your site is relevant for a specific topic or search phrase. If Google sees that people are clicking on your search result, staying on your page for a while, visiting other pages on your site, and spending a lot of time reviewing your content, that tells Google they served up a great search result that was relevant. That’s how you improve and maintain your search rankings.

  3. Write for humans.

    Stop trying to keyword stuff your content. Instead, write good quality content and the rankings will come. As noted in #1 and #2 above, you need to write content that incorporates a variety of terms around your topic (not just a single keyword), and you need to keep people on your site once they click on your search result. It all starts with great, original and valuable content.

  4. Build more quality backlinks.

    In the past, you could buy a bunch of worthless links back to your website and game Google’s Algorithm. Google has smartened up, and they now look at the quality of your inbound links, not just quantity. If you can build a lot of inbound links back to your site from other highly reputable and respected sites, you’ll rank higher. Google looks at quality inbound links as a sign of trust and relevancy. If you’re trustworthy and relevant, you have a better chance of ranking well.

  5. Be mobile, fast, secure.

    More people are viewing sites from mobile than desktop. Build your site with mobile in mind first. If it isn’t responsive and doesn’t adjust to mobile devices — build a new site. Mobile experience is a big ranking factor. You also want to use a content delivery network, caching and current programming to minimize site load time and speed everything up. Finally, make sure you invest in an SSL certificate to make your site secure. The entire internet is moving to higher security. You need HTTPS across your entire site, HTTP is no longer cutting it.

Bonus Tip: Call BARQAR Marketing

Our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts will help evaluate your site, develop a list of recommendations to dominate search and offer ongoing support to drive more traffic. Contact us today at 888.576.6100 or request a free SEO analysis.

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