Ranking strategies which proved fruitful in the past can become dated and more importantly, ineffective. In some cases, what used to work might now even hurt. During measurement and change attribution, it is important to keep in mind that your site is not the only thing changing... search algorithms change almost daily.
Do Your SEO Right - From The Beginning
As tough as it may be, if you follow (or at least read) the Google Webmaster Guidelines and your own ethical compass, you won't have to worry as much about your rankings taking a nosedive. In the long run, you'll spend less time and money by doing everything right from the beginning than having to overhaul your entire strategy in order to put a site back on track. Very often, I see webmasters analyzing their traffic and rankings in relation to their content and technical changes, without taking into consideration that which is judging them - the algorithms. In a sense, SEO can be like chasing a moving target. However, if you don't aim solely for what works at the moment, you won't have to worry about questionable practices in the future. Truly successul SEO means skating to where the puck will be, not where it is.
What Can You do to Future-Proof Your SEO?
The ultimate goal is to stay one step ahead of search engine algorithms, rather than chasing them. Think about it, what is the function of natural search? The goal of search engines is to present their users with the most relevant, high quality content in response to search terms. In the years to come, this goal will become more fulfilled by the development of more sophisticated semantic search technologies. As a site and business owner, you'll want to be there before this happens - not afterwards. So, what can you do to ensure your site is riding the crest of the wave?
Keep Track of Algorithm Changes
- Because algorithm changes are just as important as site modifications, it is worth creating annotations in your analytics tools to help you conduct change attribution. If you notice a dip in site performance match up to an algorithm update, find out what the update was specifically looking for.
Watch Your Backlinks
- Stay cognizant of what links your site is earning. Important metrics include unique linking domains, reputation of the linking site, anchor text used, and where on the page your links are. Specifically, you'll want to look out for high numbers of links from low quality sites.
Be Aware of Indexation Status
- Use search operators and Webmaster tools to monitor how many pages you have in a search engine's index.
Do What is Best for Your Users
- Nevermind algorithms - your site exists for its users! Provide valuable content, use logical internal linking strategies, make your content easy to share, and don't do anything questionable. If you have to stop and think "Should I do this?" - you probably shouldn't. (Better yet, ask us).