When SEO can actually HURT your business

The practice of SEO is moving more into the mainstream. The fact is, that SEO is a dying art. In its most fundamental form SEO really just applies to the technical structure of a website - optimising the website in such a way that the search engines can easily understand it. Any professional web developer or development agency worth their salt should be producing websites that are well structured and semantically correct. If you use a modern content management system such as WordPress and you are using a decent theme then you should be safe in the knowledge that at least the basics are covered. You can also install plug-ins to further improve your SEO.

I say that SEO is a dying art because the industry really is shifting to what is called "Inbound Marketing." This consists of keyword research, demographic research and engaging with the potential clients through articles, guest blog posts and social engagement.
 
One of the best ways to improve your rankings in the past has been to create links to your website. This resulted in many people abusing this fact by posting links on link farms, spamming comments and generally littering the Internet with unnatural links. Over the past couple years Google has made major changes to its algorithm to cut out this behaviour and has been known to penalise sites. However it still remains that Google must use the links as a factor in determining the ranking in pages. That is where trust and authorship come in. What this means is: You need links from highly reputable sources, in fact 'people'.
 

Authorship

Due to social media, especially Google plus, it is possible for Google to build up a profile of an author, who they are linked to, what they post and therefore how trustworthy their voice is on the Internet. 
 
What does this mean to you?
 
Firstly, you need to produce good quality content that people will share and enable them to do that by including social buttons on your site and by posting on social networks. Also remember that what you are after is quality traffic, not just the boost to your SEO. Creating links in the right place will generate quality traffic and spread the word about your business.
 
Secondly, you should jump on the Authorship bandwagon at https://plus.google.com/authorship. This allows you to link content you publish on a specific domain to your Google+ profile. You can then check your link by going to
http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets and enter your Google+ profile address in the Authorship Email Verification box. This will give you the much-needed trust from Google and stands you in good stead for the future. Plus, depending on your industry it is extremely likely that your competitors do not have authorship set up. This will put you miles ahead of them… at least for now. With domain age being a  ranking factor, it is likely that author age, or rather the amount of time that Google has had to get to know you will also be a ranking factor.
 

Speed

Google is constantly updating its algorithms in order to display the most relevant and trustworthy results to its users. One way in which Google assesses your site is the speed with which you do stuff. This means that you should regularly post to your site, especially to your homepage. Over time you would expect people to link to your posts. If you pay somebody or an agency to do work for you then part of their work may be link building. You need to be careful how quickly they intend to build links to your site. A quick surge in links and then the drop-off can signal to Google exactly that.
You should aim for a long and sustainable rate at which links are created to your site. An efficient way to do this is to generate content in bulk and then schedule it to be published on your site over a period of time and also to be automatically posted on social media sites.
 
So remember, do the right things in the right way. Produce valuable content. Do not try to game the system, otherwise in the long-term you will lose, or at the very least you will have wasted time and money.

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