Just about everyone with a website has received a sales pitch from a pricey SEO firm. They promise unicorns and rainbows — pushing you to top rankings on your main keywords in a matter of days.
Many of these companies rely heavily on loopholes in search engine algorithms (the proprietary formulas used to rank websites for search) to deliver "instant" results without taking the time to optimize site content.
The problem for website owners who take the easy route is that Google and other search engines are constantly modifying their algorithms to improve the quality of search results for users. And this means closing loopholes and optimizing searches to reward sites that provide informative content.
With search companies putting greater emphasis on quality content, the best option for businesses is to invest their time and effort in boosting rankings organically. Here are five DIY ways to do it:
1) Update website content
Search engines are looking for clear information without excessive fluff. Make sure that you are not using industry-specific jargon that a search engine might not recognize. Also, avoid overusing key words and phrases because the latest algorithms penalize websites for "key word stuffing."
2) Continue to update often
Search engines notice when content is updated or added and they index sites accordingly. Websites that are updated with fresh content regularly are indexed more often, resulting in a ranking bump.
3) Optimize for mobile devices
With one of its most recent updates, Google has begun penalizing websites that are not set up to be mobile-responsive. If you have not considered switching to a responsive template or design, now might be a good time to do it.
4) Find and fix broken links
A large number of broken links can be an indicator of an old or neglected website. Search engine spiders will stop indexing your site if they encounter too many. Check your site regularly to make sure that links are up to date.
5) Encourage valid backlinks
Search engines use links from other websites to your own as one factor in ranking your site. One old trick used by many SEO providers is to create backlinks to your site from sites and services they have set up for the express purpose of hosting fake backlinks.
Newer search engine algorithms have begun to catch on, discounting links from websites that do not register as authentic. Work with industry partners and publications to ensure that your links and content are being placed on legitimate websites and disseminated via social media to gain true SEO traction.
Keeping up with changes in SEO can be frustrating, admittedly. But it's important to keep in mind that the ultimate goal of any search engine is to provide relevant results for the user.
To this end, search engine providers are constantly updating their algorithms to seek real, informative content that best meets the parameters defined by the individual doing the search.
Keyword stuffing, fake backlinks and other loopholes designed to fast-track search engine optimization by gaming the system will ultimately be blocked by search engine providers determined to maintain the quality and value of their product.
For many businesses, the best solution is to pocket the credit card and focus on giving their online presence a real polish.
Find additional tips for turning your website into an effective business tool atGoogle Webmasters.