There are many practices from the dawn of SEO that are still useful. These are old school tactics and habits that successful affiliates used to help their sites rank better, helped them earn more and kept them from getting banned. I’d like to share some of these practices because they are still useful.
One of the most important habits old school SEOs was discretion. Never talk about your sites in public. Although the temptation to brag and talk about success is great, don’ t do it.
Many have learned the hard way that bragging about your success invites competition and sometimes sabotage. The surest way to lose money is to talk about all the money your niche is making for you.
I remember having dinner with a group of affiliates while at a conference. One guy bragged how his business helped him buy a ranch and pay for his three kids private school. Someone at the dinner table was his competitor. When the competitor returned home he took what he learned about that person’s business and used it against him. Last I heard, the competitor successfully got the man’s site banned in Google.
It was always understood that nobody discussed specifics, even among friends. This is something I still do to this day.
2. Hide Your Websites
Do your best to not make it easy for search engines or competitors to connect all the sites that you own. And never brag about how well a tactic is then link to it from a public blog or social media.
Many years ago a popular search guru learned the hard way. He linked to one of his websites from a blog post to illustrate how well it ranked with a certain tactic. Google took a look at it and within days the site was banned.
3. Don’t Share Links Between Websites
Whether you’re practicing aggressive SEO or playing by the rules, it’s a good practice to not share links between websites or between your websites.
It’s not uncommon for a low quality site that shares a link with one of your own sites to cause the dots to get connected to that site. Keeping links separate is a best practice so that if one site goes it doesn’t drag down the rest of your network of sites.
Even if you play by the rules, if someone else is employing dodgy SEO and your site is accidentally involved, then it could potentially endanger the other sites that are interlinked with the imperiled site.
Keeping all your sites separated so that they don’t share the same inbound links helps protect them from getting pulled down at the same time.
4. Cut the Download Speed
It’s a fact that a fast download speed results in more ad impressions and more sales. It will also keep your site running should it experience an unusual amount of traffic.
There’s nothing worse than experiencing massive traffic and watching the server crash under the weight of it. I have received links from important sites that caused massive traffic and was pleasantly surprised how well my server handled the traffic. It was all because of how lightweight the template code was.
If you really want to cut your speed to the max:
- Use a minimal template
- Don’t use external fonts
- Don’t use external icons
Cut, cut, cut Excess Scripts and Plugins
Don’t use a plugin if a more efficient solution exists. For example, there’s no need to use a plugin for security headers. That’s something that can be handled with an .htaccess file.
5. Make it Easy to Link to Your Site
Make short file names. What-is-the-deal-with-the-long-hyphenated-page-urls? Keep it short. It’ll fit on a page, it’ll look great on social media. It’s easy to remember. Just because you can cram ten keywords in a URL doesn’t mean that you should.
Don’t stop people from hot-linking. I don’t know if hot-linking counts as a link for ranking purposes, I assume it doesn’t. But hot-linking and sharing images from your site is a great way to get the word out about your site.
6. Ugly Sells!
One of the old school affiliate discoveries was that you simply could not make your buy buttons big enough. Make them big and make the colors stand out! I remember an old forum discussion where they said Ugly Sells. What they meant was that making things fancy could backfire. Making site elements easy to find was the better way to earn more from a site
Bonus Old School Habit:
Overestimate Google’s Ability
In the old days, push button spammers and play by the rule corporate sites were quick to overestimate Google’s ability to catch spam. I remember one theory that held that Google was penalizing shopping sites by reading the words, “Buy Now” in the add to cart buttons.
Another theory held that Google hated affiliate sites. This forced affiliates to create informational content to hide that they were trying to get visitors to click on affiliate links.
If there’s a choice between being paranoid about Google and trivializing Google, you will do better to be paranoid. Even if Google can’t catch the corners you shave, it’ll still keep you from being sloppy. And sloppiness is a leading reason why websites lose rankings. Stay sharp!