There Are No Shortcuts in SEO!

Guest Post by Marianne Pratt

Sometimes shortcuts are good. Like when you were a kid walking to your friend’s house and you cut through a vacant lot to get there faster. But shortcuts in business aren’t usually a good idea, because shaving time all too often leads to shaved results. Nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to building SEO.

If you’ve been covertly skipping steps or are tempted to try it, here’s the best advice you’ll ever receive: no SEO shortcuts. Trying to outsmart yourself, your colleagues or clients and search engines is simply a mistake at every level.

Why is “no SEO shortcuts” such good advice?

We’re in such a hurry these days. We want everything to be abbreviated and we have less patience than ever, especially when it comes to the web. But cheating (yes, using SEO shortcuts is essentially cheating) doesn’t mean you’re working smarter, and doing things cheaper and quicker is rarely better.

You just can’t rush things, so we repeat: no SEO shortcuts. You won’t get the results you want anyway. Besides, there are significant perils in these waters, among them the fact that you are who you associate with. Using SEO shortcuts runs the risk of getting your site designated as spam – probably not your goal. Your site might become an internet pariah and ultimately could be de-indexed. Now what?

Black hat SEO is alluring, but it’s a bad plan.

Ever watched a western movie? The guys in the black hats never win. Hmmmmm…

Buying links. Don’t do it. Search engines are wise to this now, and can sniff out the difference between purchased and earned links. Using black hat techniques can generate lots of links in a hurry, but don’t count on them having any value as a source of hot leads and future sales. You’ll most likely get a collection of spam sites, blogs and spun articles, questionable links that don’t provide the authority to drives SEO rankings or have any staying power.  

Article spinning. Don’t do it. This “clever” technique of generating and posting articles at warp speed by submitting them to a large number of submission sites all at once may seem like a good idea. But rampant placements aren’t well-targeted, and second-rate content won’t help you improve SEO rankings even if it is published.

Remember the movies? Eventually the guys in the black hats are driven out of town.

It’s better to follow the time-tested SEO-building process.

The old parable about the tortoise and the hare has longevity for a reason. Carefully constructed campaigns that have a strong, sustainable SEO foundation will produce better, more reliable results – the kind you can continue building on for the future.

Of course you also have to nurture and reinforce your efforts by staying up-to-date, because every day is a new day on the net. And failure to do so could result in some ugly surprises or at the very least significantly lower your rankings.

As always, quality trumps quantity. Quality content will attract truly valuable links, SEO and customers – the trifecta you need for marketing success.

Waiting for your SEO rankings to rise can be exasperating, but hold onto your “no SEO shortcuts” mantra and resist the temptation. Take note of these commonly-used shortcuts and vow never to skip them yourself:

  • Skipping past keyword research for every page – if you think you already know the right words to use, do you want to bet your budget on that?
  • Not optimizing every page – it’s seductive to just do a few, particularly if you have lots of pages, but presumably they are all important.  Which ones do you not want to be found?
  • Not using meta tags – the more ways you have to be found by search engines, the more opportunities you’ll have to be ranked. SEO best practices say you should do it, so include title tags, meta tag descriptions, H1 and image tags.

In the end sustainability has more value than flash. The point is to grow and retain your rankings, not just be a one-hit wonder. So focus on your business and marketing goals, and use SEO guidelines and best practices to reach them. Done right, the SEO building process will create reliable long-term ROI for your dollars. Good work creates good SEO. And isn’t that what you want?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Arcana Intellego

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