Things change rapidly in the SEO world and good marketers are always trying to stay on top of the latest and greatest information around “best practices”. There is a science to SEO but not an exact science. Many SEO’s have slightly different strategies and I think we can all agree that no one campaign is created equal. However, when listening to different types of SEO advice circulate, there are always seem to be some misconceptions behind some of the core theories. This is normal in such a dynamic industry so I wanted to review a few of these points as a discussion piece.
This is a big one because everyone is very careful not to “anger the beast” (Google). We all want to abide by best practices so as to build great relevant link popularity and increase rankings for oursleves or clients. However, the fear factor has pushed this a little over the edge. The idea behind link building is to create a interaction between a site and other relevant resources, partners, content, etc. The foundation should be similar to how we build our own relationships personnaly or in the business world (at least if we want to gain the most value).
So for example, people seem to still think that you should only build high power inbound links and never reciprocate. This is true in some cases and may not be true in others (these are just my opinions). If you get a link request that comes into your site from some randon website then you should probably stay away from it. However, if a partner company, client, or relevant blog has linked to you and is interested in having you reciprocate, then it should be fine. Again, this goes back to key relationships and have a link architecture that makes sense. Don’t accept a link and give a link if both parties are just doing to have another link. It probably won’t do you much good.
CONTENT: SEO VS MARKETING VALUE
This topic is a difficult one because there is value on both sides and the truth or best practice most likely falls somewhere in the middle. Bascially, I am talking about the difference between search engine optimization copywriting that may be good from an SEO algorithm (a machine reading your content) perspective vs a more emotion driven marketing perspective (a person reading your content and being compelled to link to you, share the content, or convert to a sale).
The best case scenario is to have a blend of both it seems but this is easier said than done. To achieve this the SEO content writers must be very good writers and have a sound understanding of an industry and the audience. This is why I always encourage cleints to blog. They know their business the best, and with a little coaching, can weave in some keyword strategy as well.
TITLE, H1, AND URL STRUCTURE
All of this starts with keyword strategy and understanding the clients core goals. Once that is established you want to dial in on how the keyword assignment will reflect the titles and description in the SERPs as well support the page content. For example, a title tag that simply uses keywords may rank high but might not be as compelling as the result around it in the SERPs that may have a better “marketing message”. I have seen both work quite well so it most likel will vary from site to site and industry to industry.
I have also heard people say that title should not mirror H1 exactly but I have seen this work well too. From a marketing and conversion optimization perspective, the page title (or H1) should be representative of the title tag itself which is what will appear in the search results. This goes back to the marketing message and being consistant. For example, if you are running a PPC camaign and use a specific call to action in your titles, the landing page used to support that link should have a direct keyword association and reflect the message in the title. The same could hold true for SEO title tags.
From a ranking perspective the variation seems to not matter much but from a marketing perspective the two should at least be a close mirror of one another in my opinion. This of course also depends on how you use the H1 one, where it is on the page, and the page design (as far as call to action is concerned).
There is value on both sides of these arguments which is why this stuff takes constant testing and researching to find what works best in a myriad of different circumstances.