Eyes wide. Teeth clenched. Boots quaking. Terror, doubt, and anger mixing in equal measure.
Every time a search update is announced, there’s a certain type of search engine optimization (SEO) specialist that always fears the worst. But not all SEOs are scared of Google’s updates; many SEOs welcome Google’s updates with open arms.
The fear creeps up on SEOs who rely on tactics that do not improve a visitor’s search experience. When you know you are not adding any value and are relying on tricks to manipulate Google, that is when you have good reason to be scared.
Good SEOs Align with Clients and Google
For SEOs, it often seems like an infinite amount of work can be done for your clients. Because of this, SEOs often have to prioritize. They identify the high impact activities with a long half-life and focus on those.
A good SEO determines those high impact activities based off:
- prior knowledge,
- client’s capabilities, and
- Google’s Guidelines.
Good SEOs Know Google’s Stated Guidelines
Google’s guidelines offer the easiest interpretation for what your priorities should be. Marketers should be familiar with their webmaster guidelines as well as their guide to search engine optimization.
Priorities can quickly be inferred from these guidelines — just take a look at the table of contents! A close reading of these two guides can help you sort out many uncertainties, so gray areas should be pretty minimal.
Google’s Webmasters channel is another great resource for some answering your uncertainties. Not saying these solve everything, but they lay out some surprisingly not-obvious limits to right and wrong.
Good SEOs Understand Their Client’s Capabilities
Getting to know the client is one of the best things an SEM can do. For example, if the client already has a PR team, then you may be able to coordinate offsite SEO activities with them.
Understanding your client’s capabilities are also going to dictate the strategy. Is the client interested in increasing the volume of their leads or do they need help improving quality?
If your client does not have the infrastructure for fielding dozens of upper-funnel leads each day, then your efforts are going to largely be wasted.
The bottom line is that a clear understanding of a client’s objectives and how they can contribute will help your team prioritize and deliver the best quality leads.
Good SEOs Stay Up-To-Date On Industry Trends
When Google updates its algorithm, it provides some direct insight into where their priorities. It often takes weeks, months, or even longer for that information to shake out, but it is there.
So what’s the secret for predicting these updates? Pay attention to industry news (Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, etc.), listen to industry discussion, and always have Google’s “Ten things we know to be true” in the back of your mind.
Aligning with the trends and patterns that emerge from these updates can help you prepare for when the next big changes roll out.
Wrapping Things Up
Bad search engine marketing will never completely disappear. Bad marketers will always use exploits and their clients will continue to pay the price when those exploits are updated.
However, there have been some very positive trends in the industry in the last few years and I hope we continue to see that. Educating clients and improving the user experience will never go out of style and it is the best way to ensure that you’re not on Google’s “naughty” list.
I also understand that this is a pretty big simplification of the issues facing agencies and website owners. Google is far from faultless and mistakes can be made. But, if you want to sleep soundly every time a Penguin, Panda, or other update is released, then don’t rely on shortcuts and put in some honest work. That much is the truth.