We are celebrating our one-year anniversary here at Capstone Digital Marketing and what a year it’s been! The business has grown by 750% in one year. That’s pretty amazing. We are crazy busy and have several leads already as 2018 is beginning. It’s an exciting time!
Thankfully, when we began, we already knew about digital marketing and how to rank business websites on Google. That was the easy part. The more difficult part has been dealing with tools and people. Here’s what we learned in 2017 about current SEO trends, our business goals, working with clients, working with contractors, joining support groups, and using online SEO tools.
Current SEO Trends
The #1 takeaway this past year regarding SEO, online marketing, and Google is that content is still king. Some have said that backlinks are the answer to more traffic and ranking higher on Google, but time and time again, Google shoots down the backhanded things that people do to get ranked on Google. In 2017, Google also made it clear that you need a secure site. With the newest updates and changes, it’s obvious that Google wants to remain the #1 search engine by providing a safe, fast, mobile, enjoyable experience for its users.
Backlinks and Poor User Experience
In October 2017, Google began penalizing sites with bad backlinks and/or poor user experience. Every week, we talk to at least one business owner who has sold his soul to someone who “built” backlinks for their website. One of my clients paid nearly $1000 for a backlink on a “well-known, reputable website”; that article is nowhere to be found today. We were discussing this one day with our CFO as we explained backlinking and how it works. His statement at the end was, “So, basically, intentional backlinking is another backhanded way to try to get traffic and ranking.” Yes, folks; he understood and said it clearer than we could have.
Warning: Backlink Rant Ahead Because we really care about the people we talk to and because we hear about this all the time, we will take this opportunity to rant a bit. Backlinks are not the answer to building a great site that gets ranked on Google. We suggest that you stop buying backlinks and start adding some good quality content to your website. Get your word count up to at least 1,000 words per page. If you don’t write (most business owners don’t know how and/or don’t have time), hire someone to do it for you. We have connections with great writers who can produce content for your site through an easy, pay-as-you-go process.
I’m not against good backlinks that are natural and provide quality content to readers. If you have the opportunity to get a good backlink from someone you know who knows you and believes in what you do, then, by all means, do so. It’s not rocket science, but mostly common sense. We talk to angry people who hire an “SEO expert” from another country on a platform such as Upwork only to find that they have paid for a bunch of spammy backlinks that hurt their website instead of helping it. Google – and people – don’t like to be fooled – and those spammy backlinks and fake Web 2.0 sites aren’t helping you in the long run.
In 2017, Google also warned site owners that they need a secure site by October or their site would be flagged as “not secure.” This feature of site security comes with some hosting plans but most of us will have to pay an additional cost for this feature. When you consider, however, that your visitors will see the warning, and it may result in the lower ranking, it’s well worth the cost.
You can find if your site is secure by the little icon next to your website’s URL.
If it is secure, it will look like this:
If it’s not a secure site, it will look like this:
and if that icon is clicked, it will say:
Back in the day, if you saw that notice, you would leave the site because you knew there was a serious problem. Today, it means that the site just hasn’t been updated to a secure site. I would not buy anything through a website that is not secure.
At the time of this post, we have not yet updated our Capstone site to secure because 1) it costs money, 2) it will require some additional techy info on the backend that we may or may not understand, and 3) we don’t sell anything on our site. While those reasons are certainly legit, it’s just a matter of time before we jump on board and do this.
Fred – the Only Official Google Algorithm Update of 2017
The new algorithm update, Fred, was released in March 2017, and many SEO “experts” squirmed as their spammy, low-content websites lost their rankings on Google. In fact, Google makes it clear with this update that these sites are in violation of the Google Search Quality Guidelines. In other words, Google was simply enforcing rules that were already in place.
Is Google the Enemy?
Finally, I’d like to add a word here about Google and its many updates. While these Google updates can be tricky and even frustrating for marketers and business owners, the updates are a good thing most of the time. I’ve heard some SEO gurus say that they believe that Google is an evil enemy to be avoided. We disagree.
Google is a tool that can and should be used to grow your business. Sure, there are Google ads that can be pricey, and there are some changes that may require some additional time and money. Google is a business that wants and needs to make money like the rest of us. The bottom line, however, is that if you are abiding by Google’s rules, and you are adding good content to your site, you have no worries. Google will never punish you for having a fast, mobile-friendly, secure website that is rich in content.
We love to help our clients succeed, but it will require following Google’s standards and staying above board most of the time. During our initial call with one of our favorite clients, he said, “So, basically, you’re a purist SEO.” Yes, we are purist SEOs. We’ve worked with the “other guys” and we’re just not interested. We go to sleep every night knowing that we have done everything we can to help our clients succeed. Contact us if you would like to work with us. We’d love to hear from you.