New Year's Eve is upon us and for some of us that means it's time to make some resolutions. For many of us that involves writing down things like losing weight, doing more service, and trying to get a girlfriend. Once you make your list of resolutions you know won't happen, take some time and make a list of some real SEO resolutions. Odds are there are some things you should stop doing and some things you should start doing. I've put together five items that definitely need to be on that list.
1. Take a Break From Guest Posting
I’m not saying guest posting is worthless, but it’s not the powerhouse link building tactic it used to be (and thank goodness). Guest posting when done right, is a fantastic way to build up a good link profile but it shouldn't be all of your link profile. If your entire link building campaign is centered around guest posting you better own a really soft chair because it will be awhile until you're up doing jumping jacks after ranking #1 for your key terms. Look for other ways to get links such as creating socially marketable content like infographics or videos, creative blog posts, or other viral content. Check out Rand Fishkin’s WBF on how to increase the odds of your content going viral. Creating content people love will produce more (and higher quality) links than manually going out trying to convince people to give you a link.
2. No More One Night Stands
We've all done it. We find a decent website, write up a good pitch, send them an article with a link, and once it’s published you never speak again. Not only can this be heartbreaking to the publisher, but it’s a waste of your time. If you published to a site you don’t care to ever publish on again, that’s a sign the website really wasn't all that great. Which means that “link juice” you think you just got was really more like "lukewarm link water." Start focusing on websites that you actually care about being on. Sure, that means you are going to get A LOT less links, but it’s also going to get you ranked A LOT faster. How do you do this? Content partnerships.
3. Start Forming Content Partnerships
This is going to be one of your most valuable strategies in 2013. Not only are you going to get super quality links, but you’re going to get links that your competition can’t. Make a list of websites you would love to have a link from. Don't be afraid to dream big. If you are a sports related company you are probably going to write down some big names such as ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report, etc. Then write down some smaller, yet solid websites within the same industry. There are plenty of PR 5-6 sports blogs out there with real communities. Sites with real communities usually don’t advertise guest posting which is a good thing. Use tools such as Followerwonk to build relationships with editors and contributors to those big sites. Then introduce the idea of forming a content partnership.
Notice I said “content partnership” and not “guest post.” You don’t want to be a “guest,” you want to have a real partnership where you are contributing real content. If I’m a website that sells football training videos I could contact a sports community and pitch them on the idea of contributing a monthly sports tip for athletes. Websites would love to have quality content like that. It’s a longer process to make these connections happen, but totally worth it once you have it.
4. Don’t Obsess over Anchor Texts
Anybody who has been in the SEO industry for longer than 3 weeks can see that Google is getting smarter. They are ranking real brands over your average website. The grey/black hat side of the industry is running out of ideas, but a true white hat SEO should be doing cartwheels by now. If there is one thing we’ve learned from Penguin it’s that Google doesn’t care much for your anchor text. Why is that? I would say out of all the anchor text links on the web, 2% are natural. Think about how a real person posts. When they are talking about a product or service they will link to it either by using the brand name, raw URL, or simply do something like “click here.” Rarely does a blogger think “Hmmm, I wonder what keyword I could use to link to this website in order to boost their rankings...” If you are contributing content to another website don’t sweat over your anchor texts. If it doesn’t sound or look natural then don’t post it! Google is getting smarter and is starting to look more at in-text citation and what the relevancy is of the article you published. If your article is talking about football training tips and using various football terms, Google will pick up on that, and you’ll rank well for your desired football terms. Rand Fishkin recently did an awesome WBF on how in-text citation works and why it’s growing.
5. Don’t Stop Learning
This is by far the biggest and most overlooked piece of advice one can get for 2013. Keep learning! By learning I don’t just mean read an SEO article when you are stuck on something, I mean be involved in the SEO community. Read the great content on the SEOmoz Blog, check out the awesome Thursday Gems from 97th Floor’s Blog, and follow influential SEO’s on Twitter and Google+. Communities such as Inbound.org are fantastic to see the latest research and ideas. You should be reading at least a few articles a week. If you aren't reading at least that, you are going to fall behind because the industry literally does change on a weekly basis. I can’t tell you how many people I run into that still think using META keywords are valuable. Make learning a priority in 2013. I've discussed in a previous post that in order to be a truly successful SEO you must love your job. If you hate what you are doing then scratch all the advice I just gave and make a New Year’s resolution to find a new job. If you lack passion then you will never succeed at what you are doing.