Long-Term SEO: How To Future-Proof Your Search Rank

When people ask how to improve their search rank, I always talk about long-term SEO.

Search engine optimization is a process, not a set-it-and-forget-it action.

While you can easily make your site search-friendly overall, you can’t expect one-time SEO to work long-term.

The factors for search as well as the actions of other sites cause search results to be in continual flux.

And Google is always finding new content to add to the SERPs, which forces other content to shift its rank.

Because of all these factors, there isn’t a fixed result for SEO.

SEO isn't fast or permanent. Click To Tweet

Surprisingly, though, people still think of SEO as something they can do and be done with so they can rank better.

They can, over a short period.

However, if you want long-term SEO results, you’ve got to look at it differently.

It’s time to start treating SEO like a process with a long-term focus and stop thinking of a high search rank as something you can buy.

You must switch your thoughts about SEO to a long-term focus and a long-term process that will always evolve.

Let’s cover why that is and what you should be doing with SEO as a result.

SEO Is A Process That Takes Long-Term Work

As I said, search optimization doesn’t happen once and never again.

Search is in a constant state of change, and you need to consistently adapt to those changes if you want your site to get found.

Some of that will require behavioral changes in your search optimization practices over time.

However, most of it will require a change in the underlying philosophy behind the way you care for and update your website.

Long-term SEO success is highly dependent on the production of high-value, helpful, and thorough content.

The kind of dependency that can’t be done quickly or only done once.

You're never really done optimizing your website for search. Click To Tweet

So, if you intend to rank well on Google over the long-term, your SEO philosophies are going to have to shift to a long-term work focus.

You’ll need to get comfortable with the idea that truly long-term SEO results will take a lot of work over a long period.

And you’ll need to decide to either put in the work yourself or hire an agency to do it for you.

(It always comes down to a choice between time and money, doesn’t it?)

If you’re not ready to change those underlying philosophies about the time and effort long-term SEO requires, you’re not ready to tackle your SEO.

But, if you’re ready to play the longer game, you can start to build real success.

Start Thinking Long-Term With Your SEO Strategy

If you want an SEO strategy that’s going to create long-term results, you need to start thinking about it long-term.

There is no fast SEO that works long-term.

I don’t think I can repeat that enough.

To help you do that, I want to introduce you to some long-term SEO tactics that can help you develop the results you’re looking for.

The goal of long-term SEO is to continually work on improving Google’s impression of your site and the contents it contains.

Keep making the search algorithm's opinion of your site go up. Click To Tweet

Factors Google considers include your site’s overall authority score, your content engagement signals, and the accuracy of the information on your site.

So, with that in mind, the best thing to do is focus on the SEO tactics that have a long-term impact on those factors.

By shifting away from keywords and towards evidence of relevance through these indicators, you’ll build long-term SEO results that will be hard to lose.

You’ll also find yourself in a position to stop being afraid of the changes in Google’s algorithm, knowing that you’ve proven that your content is relevant to the answer the searcher is looking for.

And you can have confidence that the right people are going to find your content when they’re searching for the answers you’re offering.

Here’s what to focus on for long-term SEO results.

Start With High-Quality Content

What I’m about to tell you should be a familiar statement if you consume any of my content.

You have to start with high-quality content if you want to create long-term SEO results.

At the core of your search rankings is the evidence that the content you’re producing is the content the searcher needed.

It has to provide value to them based on what they were looking for.

There is simply no better way to do that than by providing high-value, high-quality content.

Trying to fake quality for long-term SEO doesn’t work.

Your audience will reveal the truth to Google regardless of what you try to do to bypass this metric.

Quality content is the only way to get searchers to stick around on your site when they land there.

Because engagement signals are a big search factor, quality content is also the only way to assure you improve this part of your search score.

When people spend more time on your site overall your authority score goes up too.

Actions like this tell Google your site is offering the right things to the searcher.

By focusing on the quality of your content you take some of the engagement metrics under your control and help strengthen your control over your authority metric.

Giving people a reason to stay on your site – and come back to it as well – is exactly what Google wants from it’s highest search results.

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Build Solid Backlinks

Believe it or not, backlinks are still a factor in search.

Even more, you have some control over how many you get.

And, for long-term SEO results, they play an important role in helping Google score your site’s authority.

Backlinks are often created as evidence that the content linking to them is valid.

They’re references for the information that contains them.

When your site becomes that point of reference, Google takes it seriously.

Especially when it comes from a source with a great reputation.

But how do you build backlinks if it typically requires people referencing your content?

You become an active participant in the communities of your industry.

One of the greatest long-term SEO tactics is the art of guest blogging.

Build relationships with other website owners that serve your industry and target audience.

Offer them valuable content for their blog, then create something that will benefit their site.

Link to your content as a reference to what you’re saying.

On a similar thread, visit Q&A sites like Quora, Alignable, and Reddit and answer questions related to your industry.

Add backlinks there, too.

These links, which come from sites with high authority scores and great reputations, begin to build evidence that your site is authoritative.

Yes, this will take a long time to do, but the long-term SEO results are worth it.

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Improve Old Content

Have you looked at your old content recently?

You have to make sure that it doesn’t damage your solid long-term SEO strategy.

Old content can mistakenly cause all kinds of SEO conflicts – things that Google doesn’t like to see on its top search results.

Often old content can become outdated, stale, irrelevant to your site, and broken.

It’s usually too short to truly be helpful or, at best, contains old information.

Those things drive your old content down in the SERPs.

When you have a lot of content that doesn’t rank well, you wind up with a lot of content that gets poor engagement metrics.

Poor engagement metrics lead to pages with a lowered authority score.

And pages with a lowered authority score lead to an overall lower site authority score.

If your old information is damaging enough, your base URL may be bringing all your SERP rankings down.

All this was probably caused by your lack of a long-term SEO strategy.

But that’s OK because it’s all correctable.

Returning to improve old content is a great boost for your SEO that doesn’t take nearly as much work as new content does.

Because you already know the topic and information, you have less research to do, which means you can get better content with less time.

Take time to improve and expand on your old content to watch your long-term SEO results improve.

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Create An Internal Link Structure

Internal linking is, in fact, still an effective long-term SEO tactic.

It’s been a part of demonstrating the structure of your website to Google for a long time.

However, its function has shifted dramatically since it became a search factor.

Rather than help Google understand how the information on your site is related, now it helps Google understand the authority of your site.

(That’s a concept your long-term SEO strategy is going to focus on a lot, by the way.)

When you have pages on your site that need authority, it’s often a good idea to transfer the authority from other pages.

What am I talking about?

Each piece of content on your page is scored for its page authority.

Lower scores mean the page is less likely to get ranked by Google.

But pages with higher scores can lend their authority to those lower-scored pages.

Find the highest-authority pages on your site.

You can use plenty of tools on the web to help you understand which of your pages has high authority.

Once you find them, link from them to pages you have with lower authority.

Link them appropriately, of course, using keyword-rich anchor text to lead back to the lower-authority page.

By allowing pages to share authority, you bring up your site’s domain authority score.

And that’s a long-term SEO boost you can’t ignore.

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Distribute Your Content Efficiently

I mentioned that engagement metrics are a factor in your search rank.

They’re a prime indicator to Google that your site has the right information for those searching for information about your niche.

But that seems a little counter-intuitive if you’re not getting results through search.

Nobody can spend time on your site if they can’t find it.

That’s why content distribution has to be a major player in your long-term SEO strategy.

Content distribution is the process of getting your content to the people instead of getting the people to your content.

You do that through tons of things you’re already used to.

Like sharing links on social media or sending email blasts about your new content.

By distributing your content efficiently, you can begin to bring people to your site before your SEO begins to take effect.

People spending time on your site means your content shows positive engagement early.

As a core metric of long-term SEO, that metric helps raise your SERP rank and keep it elevated.

It’s also a metric that’s better to improve as early as possible.

Older, low-engagement content isn’t helping your long-term SEO, so building engagement earlier will save you from corrections later.

And distributing your content well will compensate for the short-term results while you wait for the long-term SEO work to take effect.

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Maintain Your Local Directory Profiles

Local search is a key aspect of your overall SEO.

It’s also the place where the most value comes from the traffic that finds you.

With over 50% of local searches resulting in a visit to a company and most resulting in a sale, you need to make sure you’re getting found locally.

However, it’s not just the local lead benefits that matter.

Keeping your local directory profiles – like Google My Business and Bing Places – active and up to date, you earn additional chances to be seen in search.

Besides the featured snippets, you’ll have a better chance of showing up in map searches.

These additional opportunities to be seen help bring more attention to your business.

And, of course, more traffic and backlinks.

Building and maintaining your local profiles is simple to do.

Start by claiming your business on each source.

Fill the profile with all the relevant information about your business, including the keywords that describe your products and services.

Then make sure you link back to your site.

While there is no definitive proof that Google favors brands who list on My Business, there are obvious advantages to it.

Like I mentioned, those featured snippets are a big one.

But the directories all have a relatively high domain authority, which means your domain gets another high authority backlink to boost your rank.

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Protect Your Site’s Reputation

We’ve talked a bit about internal links and backlinks having an impact on your domain authority.

They’re incredibly powerful tools in helping Google decide how valuable your site and its contents are.

However, there is another kind of link you need to pay attention to that can affect your site’s domain authority score.

Every time you create content, think about the ways you prove the information you’re sharing is accurate.

Typically, that’s done with links to other content that backs what you’re saying.

If you’re only thinking about the short-term impact of your content’s SEO efforts, you’ll use just about any link you come across.

But when looking at long-term SEO strategies, you need to make sure you’re linking to sites with a high reputation.

The quality of the outbound links you include on your site shows Google how much effort you’ve put into learning about the content you’re creating.

It helps support what you’re saying by backing it with information from an authoritative source.

By aligning your content with other sites that Google has determined to be of value to searchers, your content and site become valuable as well.

Plus, your audience doesn’t need to go anywhere but your site to get all the information, which means they stay there longer.

All signaling to Google that your content is highly valuable.

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Win In The Long-Term With SEO

If you’re willing to work on a long-term SEO strategy, you can have long-term search success.

But, as I said before, you have to let go of the idea that SEO is ever complete.

It’s a constant process that requires an understanding of the importance Google places on fresh, quality, high-value content.

You have to focus on that first, then make the rest work with it.

With the right combination of time, effort, and investment, you’ll wind up in a great spot on the SERPs and start seeing the traffic that leads to growth.

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Long-Term SEO: How To Future-Proof Your Search Rank

by Michael McNew Read in 10 min