Ethical SEO techniques should be learned by every webmaster who wants to holistically grow their site and are in for the long haul, not looking for a quick buck off their website. The meaning and idea of optimizing for search engines has drastically changed in the last couple of years. Considering how frequently Google updates their algorithms and what is, in general, considered ethical, I deem it necessary to educate my readers about ethical SEO techniques that are up to date today.
Ethical SEO is all about following the Google Webmasters Guidelines, in a nutshell. You should definitely read and understand the spirit of this document.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, has been around since search engines and before Google. The definition of ethical SEO has kept evolving over time. It is important to keep up to date because when it comes to best practices with respect to SEO, these keep changing with time and if you are not well informed, can be left in the dark when it comes to promoting your site online.
Recently, Google has accelerated in its quest for weeding out questionable SEO techniques and penalizing websites using them. It started off with the (in)famous Panda Update that left Article Marketing Obsolete. There were plenty of smaller updates with the Panda. The most recent Google algorithm changes have to do with including social data in the search engines.
A lot of “grey-hat” SEO techniques are also being punished. For instance, recently, Google began deindexing paid blog networks which affected quite a few websites. It is also worth nothing that a number of internet marketing/SEO blogs had actually promoted their use and many webmasters were taken by surprise because they considered this to be complete within the realm of ethical SEO techniques. Well, guess what, it is not! It is simply a disguised form of link-spamming with thin content that hardly adds any value.
In such turbulent times, best practice dictates that you stick with core Google values and do the following –
1. Build Quality Content
2. Build Quality Links (most penalties are in this area, be ethical!)
3. Provide a great user experience, user interface and look to keep visitors hooked on your site.
4. Promote your site on Social Media, including Google Plus
These are the essential fundamentals of ethical SEO techniques.
At the heart of ethical SEO lies quality content. There is no denying the fact that ultimately, the purpose of search engines is to dig out the best quality content and present it on top. There should be no substitute for this. Not even Google can be perfect in this – perhaps you have written an entry that is better than Wikipedia but you will be beaten by Wikipedia every single time. That doesn’t mean quality content means nothing. Never compromise in this aspect. Good quality content spills over to all the other aspects of SEO as mentioned above as well.
The most contentious part of ethical SEO comes with respect to link-building and most efforts to trick Google using black-hat techniques have to do with link-building. Essentially, you don’t want to spam the internet with your links, try to build links as organically as possible so it is most “natural”. Follow the dictum – if there were no Google, how would you use link-building? You would still want your links on high quality blogs and sites so their readers can discover you and you won’t bother about crappy blogs that exist solely to provide backlinks to other blogs. Do the same with Google present.
This is hard to measure, but Google is certainly taking the overall user experience into consideration when it ranks websites. This involves a slew of metrics from the bounce rate and time spent on the site to the time taken to load the website. As a webmaster, you should be involved in this process and try to provide the best user experience to your visitors. Does Google have to tell you to do this?
This is another new addition to the list of ethical SEO techniques from Google. The more people like and share your articles and website on social media, the better it is. Social media is also harder to game – for example, how can you ensure that a piece goes viral without it actually having the qualities of going viral? You cannot log into your friends of friends’ Facebook accounts and share your link now, can you? Don’t spend all your time on social media though, optimize your time and effort.
The bottom line is that ethical SEO techniques cover a broad range of topics and not just looking for backlinks for your website. Take a holistic view of the internet and search engines and understand why they exist and how you can align their purpose with yours. You should be able to do well in the ethical SEO realm, don’t resort to black-hat SEO and other questionable techniques. Don’t blindly follow everything you read from the “Gurus” either. Think on your own and understand what Google wants.
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