SEO never stops. It seems like every month a “best practice” gets turned Ghost Mannequin Effect upside down. It doesn't help that Google is constantly tweaking its algorithm. Or the fact that we only know a few ranking factors with some degree of certainty. The thing is, we may never know if these tactics are as important as we think (or read). The only real way to find out what works is to take matters into your own hands. Here's how to put your current SEO tactics to the test with these four experiments. 1. Internal linking shouldn't be an afterthought Internal links are usually reserved as a box that most people check on their on-page optimization checklists. Just another task to do before posting, with no rhyme or reason. Add three? Yup. Like an afterthought. While internal links aren't a direct ranking factor, that Ghost Mannequin Effect doesn't mean they should be relegated to the minor leagues of SEO either. Advertising Continue reading below A few keyword-rich anchor text links are not the point.
Think less on-site optimization, more site architecture. A great example Ghost Mannequin Effect comes from Graham Charlton on Search Engine Watch. A few years ago, during the FIFA World Cup, sites like Mail Online and The Guardian were trying to capitalize on organic searches. Mail Online and The Guardian at the time had comparable authority. Traffic and competition were quite similar. However, in Google searches for the 'World Cup', The Guardian ranked in the top 10 results for more than four months Ghost Mannequin Effect before (and several months after) the event. And Mail Online, with much the same content, ranked no higher than page four in “world cup” searches. Yikes. It does not make sense. Does he? When you dive deeper into the structure of each article, you start to see problems. The Guardian publication used the content as a centralized hub to link to all their World Cup-related content. The Guardian Link Architecture On the other hand, Mail Online published dozens and dozens of content around the World Cup.
Advertising Continue reading below Except they're often unrelated to Ghost Mannequin Effect each other, providing Google zero context between them. Now, obviously, this is not an infallible, error-free, variable-free study. But this proves a specific point: Hub pages still matter. Internal links are not only used to optimize this page, but also to optimize the pages around them. Contextual relevance is the goal. Not an artificial number. 2. Also don't forget to give outbound links Internal links are important. But externals are where the gold is. Sometimes, however, link acquisition naturally seems almost impossible. Why? They are counting. Sites don't want to hand them out like candy and risk increasing their own competition. That may be exactly what they should be doing, though. Some people are reluctant to Ghost Mannequin Effect distribute backlinks, even to relevant sources or competitors. However, this hesitation can have a surprising impact on your own ranking. Check out this Reboot study on outbound links as a ranking signal.
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