SEO rules are constantly changing. Major websites have entire departments dedicated to keeping up with them. It never gets easier to keep up with what search engines expect from you if you want to achieve high rankings. For many small websites, the SEO chase is a source of constant frustration.
Yet, there are some things that never change. There are actually SEO rules that never go out of style. They’re rare, but they’re also some of the most important. These are the rules that basically form the foundation of the SEO system. The more you follow, the better you’ll do.
These are some of the most vital evergreen SEO rules that you need to know about.
Avoid Competing Internal Keywords
In recent years, SEO rules have shifted to crack down on keyword abuse. We’ll look at examples of this throughout, but one of the most important forms of keyword abuse is competing for internal keywords.
Let’s say you want to write articles about tourism in an area. You can’t just write 20 articles about that exact topic and hope to flood search engines. The opposite actually happens as your articles will start competing against each other.
It’s ok to cover general topics more than once, but too many attempts to cover specific subjects will always hurt your SEO chances.
Don’t Chase Overcrowded Subjects
One of the SEO rules that never change concerns overcrowded subjects.
Let’s say you want to cover a pretty general topic like “Who won the World Series in 1999” or “What is the Price of an iPhone?” Not only have such topics been written about many times before, but the information about them hasn’t changed much. These are overcrowded topics which can’t support too many new entries.
Hitting an incredibly popular topic can be a gold mine, but there’s really only so much room available for certain subjects.
Longer Articles Are Generally Better for SEO Rules
This is one of those SEO rules that’s slightly more complicated and will be expanded on later. Generally speaking, though, longer articles are better.
The big point here is that search engines learn to “value” certain articles over others. It’s not a perfect system, but the idea is that a longer article on a subject is more valuable than a shorter article on that same subject. Shorter articles also tend to try to exploit search engine rules, which search engines don’t like.
The fact of the matter is that not every article can be 2000+ words. If you’re diving deeper into a subject, though, then that’s about the length you’re looking for.
Don’t Use a Keyword Too Often in An Article
We already talked about overusing a keyword on your website. However, one of the older SEO rules says not to overuse keywords in your articles.
A long time ago, Google realized that people were stuffing articles with keywords in order to play the indexing system. They’ve cracked down on that practice over the years. Now, it’s advised that you limit your use of an individual keyword in your articles.
Most SEO tools can tell you what the optimal number of keywords in your article is. We advise that you use such tools and adhere to their guidelines. If anything, it’s better to be slightly under the limit than to go over it. Both are still pretty bad, though.
Time on Site Is an Important Metric
Remember how we said longer articles tend to be better? Well, part of the reason that’s the case has to do with engagement SEO rules.
Again, search engines learn to value your posts. A big part of that value comes from the time spend on your site. If people spend more time on your site, then search engines tend to think that they’re more valuable. As such, they’ll recommend them more.
Naturally, longer articles can keep people on your site for longer. However, this level of engagement is about so much more than just that. We’ll cover engagement tips throughout this article.
One of the Best SEO Rules? Be Unique
This is one of those SEO rules that’s hard to really set “rules” for. The general point, though, is that your content has to be unique.
When we say unique, we don’t just mean keywords and headlines. Believe it or not, Google can spot cheap content that feels like it was written for a machine. It can also identify content which is not actually useful. If you’re not actually bothering to publish quality content, you may as well not publish content at all.
Again, there’s no hard and fast rule on this tip. It’s just something to keep in mind
Be Mindful of Who You’re Linking To
SEO rules tend to value external links. That is to say that it’s a good idea to link to other websites in your articles.
However, it’s equally important to link to quality websites in your article. If you link to questionable websites, Google will flag your own website as well. Questionable can be subjective, but common sense can tell you if a website has a bad reputation.
At the same time, it’s not always a good idea to link to websites that are using the same keywords. It’s really all a balancing act.
Build an Internal Link Network
External links matter, but SEO rules tend to value internal links as well.
By consistently using internal links, you can greatly help your site’s indexing. More importantly, it can inspire users to jump from article to article. That helps people stay on your website for longer. It also ensures that all of the linked articles benefit from the SEO jump.
Use internal links often. More importantly, make sure you build a consistent network of internal links which logically ties your articles together.
Stay on Top of Your Updates
It doesn’t matter how specific SEO rules change. Google and other search engines will always penalize you if you don’t keep your websites updated.
Mind you, we’re not just talking about WordPress updates. You need to make sure your plugins are updated. You need to make sure your security programs are updated. You even need to make sure that your content is updated.
If you’re behind on your technology, then search engines will punish you for it. The bigger the piece of technology, the more important it is to make sure its’ updated.
Make Sure Your Site is Responsive
We’ve talked about it before, and we’ll never stop talking about it. One of the SEO rules that never changes involves the response time of your website.
If your website is slow, then it will affect your rankings. The science of this isn’t especially complicated. If users are having a hard time using your website, then search engines will not value your website.
How do you get around this? We’ve covered that subject in-depth before, but it comes down to a few things. Of course, it all starts with ensuring you have a responsive WordPress theme.
Other Sites Linking to You Is Always Valuable
This is one of those SEO rules that will always offer a premium value. The problem is that there’s no easy way to take advantage of it.
A popular website linking to your website is always good for rankings. A lesser website linking to your website is less valuable. Somewhere in the middle is the complicated world of social media. Regardless, the idea is to encourage others to link to your content.
There are direct ways to do this, but you don’t have to scam any systems. Learning to build relationships and creating good content is still the best way to go.
Security Always Matters
SEO rules since the beginning of the internet point to one universal truth: a non-secure website won’t rank well.
Suffering a single security problem won’t tank your rankings forever. Even enduring a couple may not ruin you. However, if your website is consistently insecure, it may be hard to recover from that reputation.
The advice here is really quite simple. Go with a secure webhost. Choose the best security plugins. Value secure WordPress themes. By overlooking any element of your website’s security, you always hurt yourself in the long-run.
Don’t Overlook URL Formatting
For quite some time, people overlooked the URLof an individual post. The idea was that it just didn’t matter.
Recent SEO rules have changed how people view that element of a site. Basically, search engines value a URL which clearly describes what is in an article. That means using keywords in a URL, but it’s about more than that. You’ve got to make sure your URLs are formatted in a way that makes sense to machines and people.
By properly formatting a URL to relay the content of the post, you can greatly improve your site’s indexing and SEO rules.
Know Exactly What People are Looking For
Obviously, you should pursue keyword content. However, SEO rules dictate that you need to know exactly what people are looking for.
For instance, the difference between “Best Ticket Prices” and “Cheap Ticket Prices” can be huge to search engines. How much such wording matters really varies on a case by case basis, but the basic idea is to always go with what people are looking for most.
Trying to use small variations on phrasing to differentiate yourself often harms you more than it helps you. It’s best to try several variations of a phrase in order to understand what people are really looking for.
Don’t Get Caught Up in the Race to be First
Being first can obviously mean a lot. If you break a big story, for instance, that will obviously help your SEO tremendously.
Yet, modern SEO rules don’t overvalue being first on everything. Sometimes, it’s actually better to publish a news story at a time when more people are talking about it. That really all depends on when you’re indexed and how optimized your content is.
Obviously, it can help you to be one of the first sites to cover a particular subject. However, if the rush to be first ends up hurting your optimization, then you’ll suffer for it in the long run.
Social Media is Not SEO
Social media is a big deal right now. It will probably be a big deal for years to come. However,it’s important to understand that social media and SEO are two different things.
The fact is that SEO rules only place so much value on social media. For instance, having people link to your site via social media is not as valuable as having SEO friendly sites link to your content.
Social media can be great for promotion. Social media can be great for using a community. However, success on social media typically has a minimal impact on the pure SEO of your content.
Understand Granular Searches
Let’s say you want to write about CPUs. Well, there is a lot of competition out there for such a large subject. As such, you need to narrow down your topic. How do you do that, though?
Well, this is where most SEO rules value granular search results. Basically, that means that you type “CPUs” into a search engine. You then take note of the various result variants you get based on that topic. This tells you what people are searching for and how highly they prioritize those variants.
By publishing content that hits those terms, you can greatly improve your rankings in variants on popular topics.
Utilize Practical Keywords
This is one of those SEO rules you won’t find in a book. However, it absolutely matters.
See, people often tell you what they’re looking for more clearly than search engine tools will. They tell you on social media, on forums, and in comments sections. If people are going out of their way to talk about something, it’s because they want to hear more about it.
Above all else, search engines value original content that addresses trending topics. One of the easiest ways to find those topics is to really research what people are looking for. Hitting those topics is an optimization trick that will never go out of style.
Appreciate the Human Element Over Pure SEO Rules
Years ago, it was entirely possible to write for search engines. That is to say that SEO rules were much more technical and overvalued content that was written to adhere to SEO requirements. Those days are long gone.
The fact of the matter is that you generally want to write for people first and SEO second. If your content is unreadable to people, you will get hurt in SEO rankings. If your content is simply awkward for people to read, it will hurt your SEO rankings.
It’s impossible to imagine search engines ever going back to the old ways with this rule. That means you can never really go wrong writing for humans over machines.