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Why You Should Follow Google Guidelines Even If It Means Lower Rankings (Initially)

GoogleAs a business owner, you might have noticed that Google has been coming up with new updates to its algorithm more and more frequently.  Those updates are implemented to cut down on spam and reduce manipulative techniques that have, for years, been used to rank high in Google’s SERPs.  If you’ve been keeping up with the SEO community, you know that these recent updates have caused quite an uproar. Many SEOs are debating whether Google should have labeled paid links as spam or not. Others are ranting about how their rankings have dropped even after replacing questionable links with completely acceptable links.  If you’re still on the fence about your inbound linking practices, here are a few reasons why following Google’s guidelines or terms of service will always be your best bet.

1. Protect yourself from future penalties.

There are many business owners, SEOs and agency strategists who are trying to come up with a new “magic bullet” for their SEO strategy. I have seen many in-depth strategies that outline how often you should use anchor text related to your desired keyword or how you should diversify the types of sites from which links are pointing to your website. The truth is, even though these strategies might work very well now, or even for the near future, you never know when Google might consider these techniques “spammy”.

Let’s back up a bit and think about the main reasons Google updates their algorithm. It’s all about user experience – according to Google. If you build legitimate links that genuinely encourage Internet users to visit your website, those links are unlikely to be considered spam by Google, now or in the future.

2. Diversify, diversify and diversify.

You probably have heard this many times from your financial advisor.  Diversity is a basic investment practice and you will find it recommended in beginners’ investment guides as well as from “seasoned” investors. If your website is your retirement plan, then your links are your portfolio. You wouldn’t bet your later years on one golden ticket, would you? So, why do it with your website? Why would anyone invest their entire budget in Google, and why are so many people willing to gamble with their business relying solely on the Google algorithm? Throughout my SEO career, I have seen many businesses that live and die by rankings on Google.

Build links from legitimate sites with high-quality resources. They need to have their own audience that will drive traffic to your site – without a search engine. So even if your competitor outranks you for your desired keywords, you might still have more high-quality traffic and sales/leads. If for some reason your site’s position drops on Google you will have other sources of traffic to fall back on. You’ll be following Google’s guidelines by ditching all spammy and manipulative links and at the same time adding additional sources of traffic to make you less reliant on the SERPs.

3. Ranking for “long tails”.

Long-tail keywords have relatively low search volume, but they exist in large volumes. In fact, about 70% of searches online consist of long-tail keywords. Searchers expect Google to provide exactly what they want, so instead of using terms like “buy car,” many search for “buy used 2011 Lexus GS350 in perfect conditions and low mileage in Dallas, Texas.” Google reports that 1 out of 5 search queries are unique – meaning nobody in the history of Google has ever before searched for those exact phrases. Let that sink in a minute.

Building high-quality links involves more work than simply submitting a link with your desired anchor text along with payment. High-quality, relevant links require unique content that is interesting to a website’s audience, Who are your or your client’s target market? If your link is surrounded by relevant content and long-tail keywords,  you will get clicks from the SERPs and that will help you eventually rank ahead of your competitors who concentrate only on ranking for head terms, like “buy car.”

Creating high-quality links to your site, rather than using a “magic bullet,” is harder, it will take longer and it may even cost more. Nevertheless, it is a superior strategy that produces better results and boasts longevity. And, choosing this route will keep you from stressing out the next time Google decides to roll out an update (whenever that will be).  When you consider a site for link-building, ask yourself if it will directly send you potential customers if you send it good content, instead of trying to guess what Google thinks about it.

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