The New Age of SEO, Explained
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has always been an exercise to hit a moving target—a practice beholden to the major search engines and their constantly shifting algorithms. Over the past 2 years, there have been a number of changes to Google’s algorithm that have disrupted the way SEO accounts have typically been run. This, in turn, necessitates a fundamental shift in the way that clients must consider SEO, and agencies must service SEO accounts. No longer can we use the once “tried and true” methods—e.g., obtaining mass back links to push our clients sites to the top of the SERPs—and reap the rewards of high visibility and click through rates. It is time for SEO to evolve.
Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There’s always going to be a place for specific traditional SEO functions such as proper onsite optimizationpowered by clean, fast-loading code and backed up by extensive keyword research. There is also still a place for traditional link building methods such as quality directory submissions, blogger outreach, as well as content production and distribution, which have always been fundamental tenets of any SEO strategy. Over time, however,thistype of optimization and these traditional SEO functions have become a commodity and most companies in the SEO industry follow a similar set of standards when addressing issues like writing meta tags, building bot-friendly site navigation and constructing internal links.
To stay ahead of the curve, however, and truly innovate, SEOs and their clients need to stop thinking of ways to brute force or trick the algorithms, and instead expand and redefine a traditional SEO engagement into what it has always meant to be: a highly specialized inbound marketing channel and set of cross-channel best practices, guided by business analysis and a healthy dose of creativity. Creativity is key in properly distinguishing your brand among of a sea of competitors, all of whom may be firing at the exact same bull’s-eye.
Start by understanding that many other pieces of the search landscape have changed—for example, SEOs can no longer ignore social media. News breaking on Twitter is frequently pushed to the top of SERPs, and anyone signed into a Gmail account sees personalized search results based on whom they are connected to on various social media platforms. While social signals have not supplanted links in the algorithm yet, the search engines are constantly looking for ways to better refine their results—ads included—and for now these social channels are getting a lot of attention. Don’t get the wrong idea, linkbuilding still matters. Matt Cutts said so himself:
“So there’s this perception that, yes, everything will go social or links are completely obsolete and I think it is premature to reach that conclusion. I don’t doubt that in ten years things will be more social and those will be more powerful signals but I wouldn’t write the epitaph for links quite yet.”
And it’slikely to continue mattering (at least in the near future) but social engagement is quickly approaching equal importance.
Any client who begins an SEO engagement should make sure to let their team know right away if they have received any kind of warning about unnatural links. Be sure to pay close attention to whether the warning says you have unnatural links on your site as opposed to unnatural links pointing to your site, as the course of action to be taken is different for each. If the client has received such a notice, before a full-fledged SEO campaign should be conducted the website’s back link profile should be thoroughly audited, and removal requests made to as many of the offending websites as soon as possible. Be aware that link building efforts that were once industry standard practices—“black hat” and “grey hat” efforts like submitting to automated directories—are now considered pure spam. Unfortunately, it may be very difficult to contact some of the webmasters of many of these sites, and if you do, they may then expect to be paid to remove the offending link. During this process, it is important to keep meticulous
records of such efforts to accompany any reconsiderations requests to Google. Once you’ve started or completed this process you should begin building quality links and undertaking other regular SEO activities as well.
Some quality links fall into the category of paid sponsorship. Yes, this may be shocking: not all paid links are bad. Navigating the waters of paid sponsorship can be tricky—for the most part, the FCC and Google have not really been completely straightforward about what is okay and what is not—but for the time being it seems to basically boil down to:
Go ahead and write sponsored posts, but disclose that they are paid posts when doing so.
Go ahead and solicit and/or compensate reviews, but you cannot specify that they must be positive when doing so.
Even so, this is still a nascent area of lawandhas yet to be fully defined. If you do decide to seek such an arrangement, it is important not to get tunnel vision when considering how you might engage with bloggers to write sponsored posts. Just as content is different, the arrangements you may make with such website owners or bloggers are bound to be different. Additionally, this is why it’s important to have the time to research and see what’s going on inside Google over a broad cross-section of clients and industries—you may just get some new ideas.
There’s a new buzzword in our industry: “content marketing”. But, there’s nothing new about it! “Content marketing”isexactly what Google wanted you to do when they said, “content is king” for the better part of a decade and barely anyone listened. Well, the bell has tolled and now it is time to do what SEOs in the know have been doing all along—creating interesting, engaging and quality content that attracts users, formatting it so the bots can find and index it, and then spreading the message through social media evangelization and blogger outreach. The difficult part, the part that requires a creative strategy, is coming up with that interesting content, even if you are in an industry that’s perceived to be as dull as dishwater. Consider the case of Will it Blend, a series of infotainment videos with nearly two million views on YouTube each, and each of which contributed to an excellent CPL in the form of links back to the blender manufacturer’s site. The company simply shoots video of their blenders trying
to blend things such as iPhones, golf balls, Justin Bieber dolls or even a whole chicken. The creativity to come up with something unique that fascinates and captivates must be inherent to any “content marketing” campaign, as must the expertise to format it properly for consumption by users and by search engines. Remember that at its heartGoogle is an advertising company. They need quality content to put ads around, and if you can give them what they want, you are more likely to be rewarded with high SERP positions and lots of high-converting traffic.
We live in a world that’s becoming increasingly mobile, with Internet traffic from mobile devices expected to surpass that from desktops sometime in 2013. There are 2 billion smartphones in the world, with another 600 million being sold every year, and the tablet market has also exploded with the introduction of the iPad and Kindle Fire, as well. Mobile is yet another consideration that can no longer be ignored. Google even has a separate mobile algorithm, and site speed optimization in conjunction with design for a different type of browsing experience are keys to success in the mobile channel and reaching consumers where their purchase/conversion
intent is highest.
Finally, it’s important to make sure your site is optimized for conversion—make sure that users sign up for your email list, download documents, fill out a form, make a reservation, buy a product or pick up the phone. This type of conversion rate optimization should extend all the way to recommendations across all platforms (especially smartphones and tablets), to ensure that all visitors have an optimal experience, no matter what device was used to access the information. Adaptive website design and schema markup are also valuable extensions of SEO into conversion rate optimization and all these avenues together ensure maximum ROI on your digital spend.Although it can be argued that conversion optimization or social signals do not fall under the umbrella of SEO, it is simply a matter of semantics—they both use the same canvas on which to create and the same technology driven solutions to measure success.
More and more companies enter the digital space every day, and the ones that are already there are needing to spend more and more to keep up. It takes a creative strategy to not only go after the big money keywords everyone wants—e.g., broad terms like “shoes”, “lamps” or “appliances”—but also to identify long-tail opportunities and tailoring a strategy for them. We know that longer tail queries have higher purchase/conversion intent and as such, traffic for those queries is often more valuable than the traffic for the broadest terms, where queries tend to be more informational and casual.Successful campaigns must consider integration with all digital channels, and all stages of the conversion funnel both on and offline. Our industry now has analytics tools now that can track a sale from the first point of contact on Twitter, to an exploratory site visit on a cell phone browser, to a final purchase conversion on an iPad, and back to a return visit on a desktop PC. Such technology can be difficult to implement and tricky to interpret, but proper application of these tools and the savvy to decode the data they provide can help businesses maximize the ROI of any digital marketing efforts. This technology can help take you through the start of the campaign through completion.
So, who is helping you hit the target? credit-n.ru
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