SEO Blog - Internet marketing news and views  

Future proof your SEO

Written by David Harry   
Monday, 23 February 2009 08:08

A Gypsy’s Guide to fortune-telling

When you’re working on your optimization programs, are you thinking ahead? Do you watch industry trends to see what may be on the horizon? If not, then it’s time you did. Business planning is all about not only today, but tomorrow as well. Search engine optimization programs are no different – they need to be future-proofed.

Future proofing your SEO means that you operate with one eye on where the industry is going as to ensure your efforts hold up over time. This is a wise move not only from stability reasoning but from a financial one as well. That is to say, there is a cost consideration when we have to go back and adapt entire websites with new tactics that we really should have seen coming. Your SEO efforts should always stand the test of time.

Future proof SEO


Two main types of future-proof SEO approaches;

The safety element - this means we use tactics that we’re fairly certain will work tomorrow and tread lightly on the ones that aren’t. One thing is certain in SEO is that there are fine lines that we cross from what is an acceptable practice, to those we know could get us in hot water. What is border-line today is often against the TOS tomorrow.

This means that tactics you’re employing now might actually harm a website in the near future. Stay well away from the edge my friends… it’s a long we down.

Some common areas include;

  • Widget links – we’ve seen an increasing disdain for these and it’s only a matter of time before they are devalued to a point where the exercise has a low ROI on resources invested.
  • Tag stuffing – if you’re stuffing image tags, video or even meta-tags… stop it. It really isn’t worth doing and search engines (much like the KW tag) are likely to continue to de-value the weight given these. It will be a waste of time ultimately (IMHO of course).
  • Sponsored Templates – another link building tactic that, like widgets, is likely to go the way of the Dodo as search engines crack down on link spam.
  • Keyword density (stuffing) – if you’re still doing this, it might be time to give it a rest. Search engine understand people search in 2-3 word phrases. They also understand page themes and concepts are better than linear KW approaches.
  • Site-wide links – as search engines get better at page segmentation, links in the footer, header and even side panel positions are likely to be devalued further
  • Reciprocal links – while these are still acceptable within reason, the ultimate value given these signals is likely to continue to deteriorate. I wouldn’t actively pursue these, at least in the traditional sense (think content promotion instead).
  • Java-script spamming – if you’re using JS to circumvent spam detection, your days are numbered. Search engines are (finally) processing java-script these days.. you have been warned.

… and so forth, you get the idea.


The predictive element – this means having a keen understanding of the search industry and capitalizing on trends before they happen. This means you use your keen sense fortune-telling to try and establish where search engines are going and make sure your optimization programs are positioned for best effect.

Some current areas of interest at the moment are;

  • Personalization – we all know that personalization is going to increase in importance which means you need to understand how it works, who’s doing what and how much it affects search rankings.
  • Page segmentation – search engine are getting better at page segmentation which means new implications for content creation/organization and link building as well.
  • Phrase relations and semantics – understanding how to develop strong themes for pages (onsite and offsite) will be more and more important in SEO moving forward.
  • Behavioural – (implicit and explicit) – from explicit signals such as voting buttons and favourites to implicit signals such as behavioural, geographic and demographic targeting will also increase in importance and should be understood.
  • Geo-targeting – from personalized search to universal and mobile, geo-targeting is going to be a must for the SEOs of the future.
  • Universal (vertical) search – having content creation programs that best utilize the various types of vertical search (images, video, blog search etc..) is another area that you should be considering today – it’s only going to become more ubiquitous in the years ahead.
  • Google Suggest – search engines are getting more and more inclined to various recommendations engine elements. A strong understanding of how this works is something every search optimizer should have.
  • Common hacking points – an important area of SEO these days is ensuring you don’t get hacked and have nasty links added to your site. In the future, security audits will be an integral part of SEO. Start working with the developers to ensure there is a plan in place.

Once more, it requires that we’re paying attention to what’s going on out there. It doesn’t mean heavily modifying your tactics as much as thinking ahead as to how each will hold up. Planning for a strong ROI on your activities doesn’t end at the end of each month… there is long term ROI to be considered as well. Money invested in borderline tactics could mean a total loss in a a year from now on that investment – or at east a devaluation.


Become a fortune teller

We all know that Gypsies know all about fortune telling so we’d be the place to start. How does one go about future proofing their SEO? Ultimately it will take a more intrinsic sense of where things are headed and we can put ourselves in this mindset by;

  1. Staying on top industry news
  2. Follow closely statements from the major engines
  3. Patents from the big 3 (at very least)
  4. Test things so that you understand signal weights (and changes)
  5. Stay abreast of the latest research papers from the IR community

Truly, the main point here is that you should always be thinking about strategies that will stand the test of time. This will ultimately save resources (time and money) that could be expended cleaning up problems or wasted on now ineffective link building.The next time you stumble on a new ‘trick’ and think, “I can’t believe this actually works” it would be wise to consider the future.
At very least it may be nullified, at worse penalized.

Playing it safe may not be sexy, but we’re here for the long term. Viability and ROI on search optimization efforts requires forward thinking… will you be ready?




“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put water into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.” – Bruce Lee (Pierre Burton interview)



Search the Site

SEO Training

Tools of the Trade


On Twitter

Follow me on Twitter

Site Designed by Verve Developments.