What is the most underestimated SEO strategy, yet is so effective? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
There aren’t many strategies in SEO that are truly “underestimated” any more. The industry has matured quite a bit, and there’s a tremendous amount of transparency, sharing, and uncovering of successful tactics to the point that very little flies under the radar. Once a site or set of sites begin to have great success, reverse engineering what they’ve done is simply a matter of spending the time to investigate.
That said, I do see several groups in the web marketing worlds with varying opinions that suggest some blind spots. For example:
- Many, many startups and technically-focused companies believe that SEO should be a matter of just building something people want, because of course the smart engineers behind Google would never want to give an unfair advantage to those who engage in “manipulative SEO” vs. those who simply make great stuff. This mentality biases many folks to avoid learning about SEO, recruiting professional SEO help (on staff or as consultants), or investing in the practice to improve their traffic potential. It’s weird, but it happens all the time.
- A lot of black and gray hat SEOs, who use link networks and paid links to prop up mediocre content, refuse to believe that non-spam SEO works. They deride white hat practitioners as foolish and unwilling to take risks. They poke fun at articles showing how a site achieved success, convinced that reality is linkspam that the author has cleverly hidden away.
- Many white hat SEOs, myself included, take the opposite view — that spam can’t work, that Google’s updates over the last five years have made spam so difficult and so risky that it’s no longer effective or worth it. But, when you get into certain sectors of SEO and content, there’s no doubt that spam is what’s ranking a majority of pages and sites in the top ten. We try to tell ourselves it’s just because Google hasn’t cracked down yet, but they surely will. The reality, though, is that in many of these spam-heavy sectors, Google seems to have never truly wiped away the spam. Link networks and crap content have been propping up sites in these results for a decade and a half.
- In the SEO world, overall, if I had to identify an underestimated technique today, it would probably be around brand building. I think, because of our focus on technical issues, on link building, on targeting content to keywords, and on rankings and SERP visibility, we often miss that, through brand building, Zappos, for example, can lose out to their competition in every search result for shoes, but still win because all those searches combined don’t equal the number of people who type in “Zappos” when they want shoes. You might say, fairly, that this isn’t truly an SEO strategy, but when you combine brand and SEO, as folks like TripAdvisor, NYTimes, Zillow, CNET, and others have done, you get amazing results.
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