As you know,
every year is always rocked by a plethora of changes in
the search engine marketing world. The acquisition of
smaller companies by the Big 3 changes the marketing landscape
as we know it every month and with every update to the
index that is made, we hold our breath and hope that we
come out better (if not, the same) in the end. So when
it comes to the new year, there are many things that we
should look out for to stay on top of the rankings.
1. Quality Content:
I say this so often and I cannot overemphasize this enough:
Content is KING! Search engine spiders, crawl the net
to find what? Content! Your site has information (hopefully)
that you want the spiders to see and include in their
index. By the creation and publication of quality content,
you give the search engines more reason to return. You
are feeding them what they want. In 2006, you should be
finding creative ways to get your content noticed and
viewed as well as finding creative ways to publish fresh
content on a regular basis. A very good way this is done
is through the use of message boards (hosted on your site)
and by blogs (enabling you to publish more frequently).
2. Don't Overextend
Your Link Exchange Structure: Backlinks were a popular
way to increase your rankings fast in the search engines.
The tradition holds: find a PR7 website and trade backlinks
and you'll be indexed in Google within 24 hours. That
strategy still holds true and is beneficial for new websites.
But in my opinion
the days of tremendous link-swapping are coming to an
end. Many websites have been founded with the purpose
of allowing you to exchange links with other websites.
This has caused a massive influx of webmasters who want
to exchange a ton of links with the hope that it will
help them in the search engines.
But what really
matters when it comes to links is the amount of quality
one-way backlinks that direct users to your website. You
want the balance of links to be in your favor, that is
what leads to success.
Also, there has been
talk of search engines taking notice of these "link-farms"
and penalizing those who take part in them. So if you
do take part in link exchanges, please be moderate in
respect to the number of exchanges you take part in.
3. RSS and XML:
Two new technologies that have begun to take center stage
especially in 2005 include a programming language that
has been around for several years called XML. XML is shorth
for extensible markup language and is a derivative from
HTML. The main difference is your ability to create descriptive
tags for your data.
This has led to the
advent of RSS or real simple syndication. RSS is a way
for you to publish your data to an XML file hosted on
your site. Users subscribe to your RSS feed via the XML
file and whenever you make a changes to your XML file
they are notified. It's become a major technology used
by news agencies and bloggers alike as a simple method
of publishing your information across a wide variety of
XML has also proved
useful with the Google Sitemaps program, newly released
in 2005. The optional tags available with the XML sitemap
allow you to be descriptive about the individual pages
on your site including dates the individual pages were
modified. There are some small things you need to pay
attention to when creating this: namely you have to follow
the Google xml schema, and you have to be diligent about
tracking and fixing errors in the code. But if used correctly,
it is a great way to help Google index the hidden pages
4. Stay away from
and eye catching websites. The most prominent problem
with the two technologies is that the spiders can't index
through them (at least not yet). This limits your ability
to have the search engines index portions of your site.
Many have speculated that the Big 3 are working on solving
this problem, but for the time being, avoid or limit your
use of these technologies.
5. Avoid Unethical
SEO: There are a lot of programs out there that help
you to acheive maxmum linkback ratios in a very short
amount of time. Some of them are good; some are bad. In
fact, some of them will waste your effort trying to post
trivial comments on blogs or trying to maximize your link
exchanges. In my opinion, you should seek success in SEM
the right, ethical way. Seek out honest web companies
to exchange a moderate amount of links with. Post only
relevant comments to forums and blogs because that behavior
leads to lasting link backs. Also, don't try to manipulate
your website to make it appear to have a higher PR than
you really do. Google sees that one!
6. Last, but not
least, Articles: There is a little bit of controversial
talk about whether it is right to post articles for free
use in directories. In my opinion, you are providing a
well needed service to webmasters and I don't see this
one as a potential loss for 2006. Information is valuable.
And websites that need content (especially fresh content)
desire what you do to make their efforts a success. So
it is natural for your website rankings to benefit through
backlinks from those articles. It's a win-win situation.
One other thought
on this subject. Right now, the search engines can
punish websites for having duplicate content, and that
is an argument that many will propose. But, the search
engines will usually only punish you if the html format
of a web site is similar, not a couple of articles. So
posting articles is safe for now.
But be cautious.
Many lucrative methods of ethical SEO can be turned into
a problem when too many people attempt to abuse the technology.
So that's it.
Short, but informative. SEO is both an art and a technology
that we have to use correctly for the right type of success.
Who knows what the year ahead may bring, but playing your
cards right, you can acheive success and avoid any pitfalls
that may come.