Search engine optimization is an ever changing, ever evolving world. Experts and novices alike should spend a great deal of time researching current trends and new ideas in the industry. Reading blogs, forums and articles, sharing ideas with other marketers and testing concepts in the lab and in the real world by carefully testing and closely monitoring the impact various changes to their own sites.
I frequently hear from customers regarding new theories they read about or heard from one source or another as well as claims made by SEO companies trying to earn their business by promising the newest cutting edge ideas on SEO. Smart clients ask questions and take notes when speaking to these pitches and then they call me. If someone you trust agrees that it is a good idea then your SEO team should be ready to implement it. If they tell you it is not a good idea make them explain why and make sure you understand their explanation.
New ideas come in to play all the time and they go out of fashion just as quickly. Many ideas were not founded in sound theory in the first place and others made perfect sense until an algorithm change or a shift in the marketplace unmade all of those good intentions. The trick is knowing which fad to follow and which to let pass.
The first thing to keep in mind is the physicians oath. “First, do no harm.” If you are just starting out with a brand new website you have very little to lose if you follow the wrong fad. If, however your site has PageRank and traffic and has earned a certain amount of trust from search engines, then following the wrong leader might costs you thousands of dollars in lost ranking or worse, get you banned from the index. With this in mind take a good long look at the unintended consequences of the proposed changes before you make any changes. It is more important to keep what you have than it is to gain a little more.
There are lots of things you can do to improve your site’s rankings. Most of us agree on the things that matter the most such as backlinking and keyword usage, but there are countless little things that some search engine marketers swear by, but others not pay any attention to. In a perfect world we would test and determine the best course of action the reality is that these things vary too much between markets and with algorithm changes so that we can never know if one particular optimization trick will mean a small improvement or none at all. In these cases the best advice is to implement them all if they make sense. Don’t do anything dishonest. Sneaky tricks will always come back to haunt you in some way and are never worthwhile in the long term.
Implement all valid optimization ideas over time and watch your stats closely to see when changes take effect. If you gain even one customer from these ‘long tail’ optimization ideas, it will be worth it.