Are You Building an SEO Pyramid or House of Cards?

Written by Nick Stamoulis

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There is a difference between SEO best practices today and the SEO best practices of the past. Google is constantly changing its algorithm, and when it does that means there is the possibility that the methods could change slightly. Back in the early days of SEO the SEO hierarchy of needs (based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) went something like this:

Content–> Keyword Research–> Onsite Optimization–> Link Building

Website owners would create their website content, conduct keyword research using a keyword planning tool in order to determine what keywords should be targeted on each page of the site, and thoroughly review each page and incorporate keywords naturally in order to attract the search engine spiders. Then, they’d move on to the ongoing component of an SEO campaign which was link building, or looking for link opportunities on websites that were relevant to their niche.

While keyword research and onsite optimization is still an important foundation to an SEO campaign, it’s the ongoing component of the campaign that has changed the most. Link building has shifted to link earning and content marketing and social media marketing have become so intertwined with SEO that the SEO hierarchy of needs has evolved to add those two extra levels at the top, leaving us with a new and improved SEO pyramid that looks something like this:

 Are You Building an SEO Pyramid or House of Cards?

In addition to the static content on a website (homepage, service/product pages, about us, etc.), website owners must also have a sound content marketing program in place that ensures that the website is always updated with fresh, high-quality content in the form of blog posts. Fresh content gets the search engine spiders back to the site and provides additional opportunities to rank prominently for targeted keywords and long-tail keywords that might not have a high search volume, but attract a very specific person who is looking for what you offer. This content should be shared across social profiles in order to generate exposure and improve social signals, which also ties into the search ranking of content.

A common mistake that many site owners make is jumping from one level of the SEO pyramid to a level two or three above it, neglecting the process in between. This approach to an SEO campaign means you’re building more of an SEO house of cards and less of a pyramid. A physical house of cards might stand on its own but the slightest shake or bump and the entire structure will collapse. Meanwhile, the pyramids have been around for thousands of years because they are so soundly constructed! Which type of SEO program do you think will stand the test of time and winds of change?
Signpost Keywords
For example, if you don’t do your keyword research (or you just blow through it) you risk missing out on great keywords that could potentially drive a lot of targeted traffic through to your site. If you don’t investigate as to how your target audience is searching for the products/services you offer how can you properly optimize your site and create content that will meet their needs and expectations? Each stage of the SEO pyramid feeds into the next and builds upon the steps before it. By jumping from step to step or skipping steps altogether there are bound to be holes in your SEO campaign, just like a house of cards.

A lot of site owners have asked us what the secret to surviving the next Google update is and the secret is there is no secret—just stop trying to “beat” the system. When you follow the SEO pyramid step by step (and adhere to the principles of white hat SEO) you’re more than likely going to create the kind of SEO program that is going to be approved of and rewarded by the search engines. Where many sites run into trouble is when they start bouncing around from tactic to tactic and not giving each component the attention to detail nor the time frame it needs to succeed. Instead of trying to “crack the code” of SEO why not invest in the right tactics that are going to positively build your online brand, connect with your target audience and put your visitors first? When you build your SEO pyramid from the ground-up you’re going to have a much better chance of not only surviving the next Google update but actually benefitting from it!


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