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6 Tips for Long-Term SEO Success

by Justin Palmer - June 17th, 2008

Anyone who has ever meddled with SEO has asked themselves a ubiquitous question, “How quickly can I rank for [insert keyword phrase here]? More and more, I’m finding the word “quickly” and “SEO” don’t belong in the same sentence.

We want to believe there’s a magic SEO tactic that, if used, will revolutionize our results. On the contrary, a sound, long-term strategy consisting of great content combined with long-term SEO will win out. Below are 6 tips for ensuring long-term SEO success.

  1. Build links steadily, not suddenly: We’ve known for years that overly aggressive link building can trigger ranking penalties. If Google sees optimization happening too quickly, they may penalize you for what they consider unnatural link building practices. Even successful link-baiting campaigns can sometimes backfire, resulting in too many links in too short of time. In reality, the safest bet is slowly developing high quality links over a longer period of time.
  2. Focus on long tail keywords first, then broaden your approach: Suppose you were trying to rank for the keyword “ipod”. With the competition you face, its unlikely you rank for this word anytime in the next 5 years, even with aggressive SEO. Rather than shooting for the stars and landing on the moon, consider taking a different approach. By starting out optimizing for your primary keyword in addition to a modifier (e.g. color ipod, ipod 60GB, etc), you’re more likely to rank in a reasonable amount of time. Since this modified keyword phrase contains your primary keyword (ipod), you will also slowly start gaining ground on your original target. In a way, you’re shooting for the moon with the intention of gradually working your way to the stars.
  3. Diversify your Target Keyphrases: Sure, your top keywords may be performing well today, but what about a few years from now when your competitors catch up, Google changes their algorithm, or some other external factor pops up? Rather than keeping all your eggs in one basket, begin researching now what you’d like to rank for a year or two down the road.
  4. Create landing pages before you need them: Ever get an idea for a new keyword, but don’t have time to build a page? You may not have the time to fully create and optimize a page at the time, but why not at least create the page, throw a few internal links at it, and come back and optimize it later? I’ve found that this strategy gets the clock ticking with Google, since they obviously place value on the age of the page itself. Even if you can’t get to it for 3 months, you’re better since the page has now been given time to age in the index.
  5. Use Reactive vs. Proactive keyword research: Even the best keyword research will never yield perfect results. That keyword phrase that you thought would be easy to rank for sometimes ends up being more work that its worth. Or worse yet, once you are ranking you discover it isn’t converting to sales. A reactive SEO keyword research method would take a different approach. Rather than doing a perfect job of keyword research upfront, you analyze the traffic you are currently getting and re-optimize your pages accordingly. As I analyze the top keywords bringing traffic to my blog, I’ve realized 90% of the keywords I never intended on optimizing for, it just happened. But once I see it happening, I reoptimize the posts, adding some internal links and on-page tweaks.
  6. Content first, SEO second: Yes, it sounds trite, but if you focus on your content good rankings will follow. Quite frequently, potential clients contact me and ask them to review their website, believing they have an SEO problem. On the contrary, they have a content or usability problem, and SEO is the last thing they should be paying for. It’s important to not get caught in an SEO tunnel vision mindset. SEO will help good companies be better. SEO will do nothing for sites that have nothing to offer in the first place.

What advice do you have for long term SEO results? Be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts.

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18 Responses to “6 Tips for Long-Term SEO Success” by Justin Palmer

  1. Customer Care Representative Says:

    That is an awesome tips on long term Search Engine Optimization! Thanks for the Post..

  2. Dexter | Says:

    Well said and I agree that I load of links at a time will not give a good factors in Google algorithm.

  3. Some basics of honest SEO everybody should follow | Text Technologies Says:

    [...] Some good SEO advice that boils down to “be realistic” Share: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  4. Bloggers Digest - 6/20/08 | Get Elastic Says:

    [...] Justin Palmer gives 6 tips for long term SEO success. [...]

  5. orovo tim Says:

    Love the idea about reactive keyword research.

    I have found that my best converting phrases for one of my sites are “buy keyword” or “where to buy keyword” or “buy keyword in Canada”… Those phrases bring in more sales than the keyword by itself.

    I changed my page titles and H1 tags and shazam, I rank #1 for those phrases.

  6. The Ten Commandments of SEO Says:

    I liked the 6 tips for long term SEO success. I am going to send that to our Search Guru. I linked his 10 commandments article off of my name on this comment.

    What most people do not realize is that SEO is not just about their home page. The main thing I see the most when advising people on SEO is their inability to post at least one new blog or article a day.

    Keith Brando
    “The Facebook of Small Business”

  7. Mijn Blik op de afgelopen week - 22/06/2008 Says:

    [...] Palmer schreef een excellent artikel over SEO en geeft 6 tips om een lange succesvolle seo campagne in elkaar te knutselen. Eigenlijk zaken die we allemaal wel weten maar het is goed dat er iemand het ons nog eens onder de [...]

  8. webmoney Says:

    Very good article! Content is king, but backlinks too :)

  9. Tom @estate Says:

    A lot of our clients in Holland still believe that they can pick a keyword and just score on it if a single page is optimized.

    Most businesses are frustrated when their website won’t show in the index for the words they come up with, but they actually forget that a Website should be a lot more then just a brochure.

    It’s allways nice to teach these clients and let them create unique and relevant content that offers more to visitors then their original “online brochure” did.

  10. Ash Says:

    I have another perspective of SEO for blogs. This article might be very helpful and interesting to read.

    I have written this article for the bloggers looking for SEO Success.

    Hope it helps!

  11. Webmaster | Web Development Says:

    I have read this Blog and you have shared good information about SEO
    Nice Post!!!!!!!
    Web development | Ecommerce solutions

  12. Zeeshan Ahmad Says:

    Hi, very nice and authentic tips for SEO and PPC


  13. Philippine Outsourcing Says:

    Agree. Content first before SEO.

  14. mp3traker Says:

    Once I found your bloog from Google. I’m reading your post several times because it introduces a fresh idea for my business.

  15. Grayson Hodge Says:

    This is such a refreshing post with some valuable tips on long term success with SEO. SEO is such a buzz out there and most people want and expect results yesterday from what they do to their webite or have others do. Your post brings around the very common sense of what really matters, the content and whether anyone wants to return to the site.

  16. Justin Palmer Says:

    Grayson, Thanks for the feedback!


  17. Canadian Small Business Directory Says:

    Thank you for the article. I have noticed the same fact that traffic is coming from keyprases we don’t have on web site. So now we will use those keyprases in order to bring more targeted traffec.

    Thank you again.


  18. seo sheffield Says:

    I think the long tail keyphrases can bring most success, even if you continue to target difficult keyphrases, the long tails look after themselves! I just make sure I have lots of varied fresh content on my sites.

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