The 5 Most Commonly Used SEO Practices – Their Pros, and Their Cons – SEO Monday

By Nik

Here’s an interesting comparison of the 5 most common SEO practices.

I racked my brain to think of the 5 most commonly used SEO strategies because it’s really interesting to compare investments and approaches against one another to figure out what might fit a particular site the best.

What we’ll do is describe each tactic, give the range of approaches that fit this tactic, determine pros and cons, map them to their most relative Google algo update, figure out when that tactic is best used, and finally, add a tip that can make that tactic a super-performer. If you’re already bored, please send this to somebody who handles your SEO.

Let’s get geeky.

Tactic #1: High quality content

  1. Range of approaches: 150+ words of content for a page, articles, helpful guides.
  2. Pros: In line with Google Webmaster Guidelines, can help with indexation, ranking stability per page, and Panda stability site-wide.
  3. Cons: It’s easy to mess up – content is a negative signal when it sucks.
  4. Cross-over with: (a) indexation as it helps you stay in the primary index, (b) relevance as it allows you to naturally infuse target keywords into your page for more relevancy, (c) user experience which surely impacts revenue, and (d) Panda as it can either be seen as a good Panda signal or a bad one based on the quality and depth.
  5. When you should use it: Always. You should consistently keep a calendar of content-writing efforts for your site. It has worked for years and it’s only getting stronger and more stable. But – keep it high quality.
  6. Make it super: Do really good research for your pages – you don’t need to be an expert in a topic to write about it, but you do need to do your research in order to make it good. Analyze your page’s experience, similar pages from competitors, knowledge banks like Wikipedia and manufacturer sites – and do a data dive into your analytics to determine what long-term keywords individuals use to get to that page in the past. Use this new knowledge to create more comprehensive content that is mapped to valuable keywords. And – double check your spelling and grammar. Otherwise, you might be adding content that will hurt your rankings – follow these tips and you’ll be adding content that can really start making SEO/revenue waves for your page.

Tactic #2: On-page optimization

  1. Range of approaches: Body text, title, meta tags, headers, navigational elements.
  2. Pros: You need to clarify to Google what the topic of your page is – so it’s essential in making it easier to rank.
  3. Cons: Google’s algorithm is so nitpicky – it’s really hard to find the balance of keywords and body text – or keywords and title – that fit Google’s preferences, but don’t put you into some form of ranking demotion. Even if you, a human being, try to write naturally, it’s still somewhat likely that Google will calculate your use of keywords, or your use of grammar – as unworthy. In that sense, the effort to optimize can often result in lower rankings than if you didn’t try to optimize at all.
  4. Cross-over with: (a) the core algorithm that determines what pages should rank for what keywords – the core algorithm of 200 variables is stuffed with evaluations of relevance and prominence from a page itself, (b) the Penguin update that targets over-optimization on a page itself, and (c) Panda uses keyword usage as a sign of whether a page’s content is both comprehensive and unique from others on the same topic.
  5. When you should use it: When you have a good grasp of what’s appropriate in regards to optimization levels. Evaluate your optimization if you’ve been hit by Penguin.
  6. Make it super: Don’t use public tools to choose your keywords – like Adwords keyword suggestion tool. Your keyword footprint will be so similar to other pages trying to rank for your topical keywords that Panda will eat you like bamboo. Use your analytics to mine “supplementary” keywords that are unique and long-tailed for your content.

Tactic #3: High quality SEO assets

  1. Range of approaches: Infographics, instructographics, buyer’s guides, how to’s, product tutorials, egobait articles.
  2. Pros: It helps you connect with your users and allows them to create the type of natural signals that you want for your SEO efforts. They’re in line with Google Webmaster Guidelines. They help you develop a unique brand. They can have evergreen effects.
  3. Cons: What cons? They can be slow to make an impact at first and finding the right promotional plan around them can be a learning experience. Other than that, time to get on this bandwagon folks!
  4. Cross-over with: (a) indexation as it supports natural inbound links and spiderability, (b) core algorithm as it helps fuel a higher PR homepage that can then carry its weight downward through the navigation to your key pages, (c) user experience and engagement, (d) brand awareness, (e) Penguin as the backlinks are naturally distributed by natural efforts from your users, and (f) Panda as they are seen as very high signals of content (especially the written ones.)
  5. When you should use it: Start NOW. Don’t stop investing in this type of SEO – it’s not even the future, it’s the current state of where SEO is.
  6. Make it super: Use it at the core of your activities and holistically connect it to all your other activities. Make sure users get their eyes on this stuff when they visit the site – it will help them convert when they’re considering whether or not they trust you during buying mode. Use them in your email promotions and get your past customers to engage with the content. Support your user engagement through your social channels. Finally, use it as ice-breakers for publicity and making influential contacts through channels like Twitter and LinkedIn – or even personal email.

Tactic #4: Site error corrections

  1. Range of approaches: 404s, duplicate titles, duplicate meta descriptions, crawler loops through weird URL parameter structures.
  2. Pros: Keeping errors to a minimum will help you retain the attention of Google’s crawlers. If you’re nothing but bad news for those spiders, they’ll build their web elsewhere.
  3. Cons: Some efforts can be more work than payout. Routine maintenance is good enough here.
  4. Cross-over with: (a) indexation as the spiders need to be able to move freely without error in order to continue being sent back to your site at a healthy frequency, and (b) Panda as crawl errors can sometimes uncover many unknown instances of duplicate content.
  5. When you should use it: Once a quarter at least – check your webmastertools, or use Xenu linksleuth – and find your errors.
  6. Make it super: Use duplicate errors as a compass for finding pages on your site that are under-loved from an SEO perspective. Basic, natural optimization can turn up the dial on any of those pages and help make them valuable to your revenue growth.

Tactic #5: High volume, low quality links – everybody knows this one

  1. Range of approaches: Blog articles, blog rolls, article sites, directory submissions.
  2. Pros: An accessible, controllable way to make sure your site is in “good calculations” with Google.
  3. Cons: It can sometimes feel like running a marathon while a raptor chases you – Google is actively changing calculations and appropriate thresholds for this tactic – and you can easily go months without the rankings you are used to when heavily relying on this tactic during an algo shift.
  4. Cross-over with: (a) the core algorithm that utilizes link-building anchor text as a relevance vote, (b) the indexing protocol that uses links to find pages on your site, and (c) Penguin that judges naturalness of backlinks based on distribution of type and anchor text.
  5. When you should use it: When you need to smooth out the edges of your core SEO approach – making sure that your more natural efforts are supported gently.
  6. Make it super: Diversify like you’re Ron Conway – in this case, it’s not to hedge your bets or spread your fiscal progeny, but rather because “siloed” efforts leave monstrous footprints – backlinks are like an army, so if you’re a one-man army shoulder-to-shoulder with cutouts of Sly and Arnold, you’re not going to scare anybody or get the credit you deserve. Diversify with the anchor text you use, invest in backlinks that use your brand name, and diversify in terms of what type of sites you’re trying to get links from. Then, when Google calculates your distributions, they’ll see that you have a natural backlink portfolio and stay hands off… for now.