Future proofing is crucial in any industry. Essentially it means designing your business model in such a way that you know it isn’t going to become immediately obsolete in the near future. If you sell a product then future proofing will mean investing in R&D and looking at changes in the market, for any business it can mean putting cash to one side for various contingency plans.
In SEO future proofing becomes more important than ever. While it’s a while ago now, memories of Penguin and Panda are still fresh in most of our memories (Hummingbird was a little kinder for most) and this serves as a reminder that at any point Google could change their algorithms and undo a lot of our previous good work… again.
Thus future proofing in SEO is largely about anticipating changes Google might make and using approaches to prevent them from completely undermining our previous efforts. We can only work within the algorithms we currently know, but that doesn’t mean we can’t prevent a future catastrophe by taking a few precautions on the way…
Here are the top five ways you can currently future proof your SEO while still making the most of the currently recommended techniques.
Remember the User
The main way to future-proof your SEO is to remember the user and to keep them the focus of your efforts. Use on-page and off-page SEO techniques sure, but primarily make sure that your content is high quality and that the overall experience of using your site is a good one. This will ensure that you are at least mostly protected against future changes Google might make because your goals will be aligned. All of Google’s changes are focussed on helping their visitors to find high-quality content. Thus if your site is high quality content, then any future algorithms should only help your visibility by-and-large.
Use a Variety of Methods
A lot of people who were hurt by previous algorithm changes were relying overly heavily on just a few techniques. One blogger I knew for instance rose to prominence purely by posting articles to eZine articles that contained back links. For a while he was riding high, but as soon as Google cottoned on to the idea, his site went from the number one spot to page twelve. If you rely on just one technique, then it takes just one change for your site to take major damage. Spread your bets and you’ll be much safer.
Use Non-SEO Strategies
And this extends to non-SEO strategies too. Don’t just use SEO, but rely also on word-of-mouth, advertising, social media marketing and other varied techniques. These will serve to ensure that traffic keeps coming in even when Google isn’t showing you the love any more, but there’s also a chance that at some point those techniques will become SEO. Algorithm changes don’t just remove old methods, they also introduce new ways for Google to gauge quality – and looking to things like social media and advertising might make a lot of sense.
Don’t be Obvious
It’s not that Google doesn’t like SEO as in theory it helps everyone. Rather, Google doesn’t like it when a single loophole in one of their algorithms is exploited to the point where other markers of a site’s quality become unimportant. They also don’t like it when it looks as though you’re concentrating only on that one aspect of your site rather than taking a holistic approach. And they probably don’t love it when your SEO strategies involve ‘faking’ genuine interest.
So in other words, you mustn’t get too carried away with any new technique and then follow it to the letter. It’s current wisdom that contextual in-bound links to your site will look more natural if they are in the second half of the article… but then if every single one of your in-bound links is in the second half of the article it’s in, then it’s going to be obvious that you had a hand in all of them. That’s not a problem now, but it’s something Google could easily identify in the future. Don’t be obvious!
Build Positive Associations
Follow these sorts of rules and you will be able to protect your site against future changes. And likewise you should try to find other sites to associate with that are similarly carful and similarly unlikely to get boycotted in future changes. And that definitely applies to your SEO companies too!