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In February 2011, Google rolled out the Panda update. Up to 12 per cent of search results got affected. Google went against content farm sites. As a result, some business came to a standstill.
Then came Penguin update in April 2012. This time, Google penalized the websites that incorporated web spam techniques.
And after that, SEO was never same again. Many SEO professionals are now following the Google guidelines for SEO. Google tells us quality content and trustworthy backlinks are enough to climb the rankings.
But is it as easy as it sounds? Probably not.
Creating content is no easy
Usually, content creation is missing in the executives' top priority list. Instead, it should be the top most agenda after the sales and customer service. The lack of understanding of the content role in search engine optimization makes even harder for marketing head convincing top management to hire the content writers.
The challenge not just lies within the organization. Human resource team finding equally hard recruiting industry expert content writers.
Unlike coders, writers need more help from organizations to create quality content. Writers are made to work in silos. The lack of reasonable efforts connecting between writers and sales, customer service, delivery team is glaringly visible in many companies. Besides, few companies are creating researched content. The polls, surveys and collaboration with external agencies to create the thought leadership whitepaper content are missing.
The old ways of link building are not working
When I was working in the first agency, the strategy was simple. Go and get as much as directory links. The submission based link building was a widely used tactic in 2005 to achieve rankings. Post Penguin update, Google penalized sites that had classified, blog commenting, article directory social bookmarking links.
Now link building program centered around content marketing. Implementing white hat link building strategy is more difficult because there are so many resources involved.
We spend hours outreaching through emails requesting to guest post on high-quality sites. Popular websites like Entrepreneur, Inc, Forbes and Huffington Post receive hundred of article requests daily. So a high-quality article is most likely to get chosen.
Recently we spent more than 30 hours just to get a one back link. Our content writer rewrote the entire content upon request. If we go by these standards, we can get 10 or 15 backlinks in a month.
Another safe bet is to create eye catchy informative infographic. Outreach via emails and at the same time roll out paid social media campaign. Outsourcing the design costs anywhere around 500 to 1000 dollars.
SEO is Time Consuming
The client often asks one common question: "Why it takes so much time to rank in the first page of Google?"
SEO is not just fixing the problems of the website. It requires the research and analysis. It takes a month to create a couple of landing pages. Convincing the webmasters for a strategic backlink may take more than two months. A day goes off analyzing one of the competitors backlinks. Imagine your top 10 competitors are having more than 100 pages of quality content and 10,000 high authority backlinks. Are 6 months enough in this scenario? Perhaps we need more time.
Ranking keywords is a part of the SEO KPIs. Increasing referral traffic, reducing bounce rate and improving conversion rates are some of the other key SEO KPIs. More time is needed to achieve the above KPIs.
Google has set the standards pretty high
Google has more than 200 ranking signals. Some of the ranking signals change every month. The ranking factors are centered around links, content, user experience and rank brain. In addition, Google comes up with one or two big algorithm update every year. The recent updates include the mobile friendly website, hummingbird and interstitial ad penalty.
Competition is so high
There is a cut throat competition in local SEO. Google has trimmed down to three listings from seven. Recently, Google is showing the four text ads in the search results page above organic listings removing the right ads. This has created more fierce competition.
For small-medium business, it 's hard to compete with Fortune 500 companies. As large size companies have the bigger team and better resources. It is like fighting in war field with the bigger army and better weapons.
If you are a new kid in a town, let us say a start-up, you will have the slew of online competitors.
You can't game Google
Google is now smarter than spammers. The keyword stuffing no longer works in SEO. Google penalizes the over optimization tactics: keyword stuffing in title tags, junk backlinks, optimizing exact match domains and shallow content promotion. With Google Panda and Penguin updates, low-quality content, and cheap backlinks fail to achieve higher rankings in Google.
SEO is lot like a war: need regular content ammunition and backlinks support. Without these, you can't outsmart your competitors. Time, money and resource are involved in optimizing the site for better rankings. Happy optimization.