“Search engine optimization (SEO) is changing. Once a “dark art” you could outsource and forget or buy-in as needed every time you noticed your website traffic dropping or your competitors’ websites doing better than yours, it has now become an integral part of your business practices and is closely integrated in your business structure.” David Amerland
For the past 10+ years, SEO has become paramount for marketing but as the online world is undergoing such a radical change you will need to rethink it all.
In the future you want to make sure you are helping people get the best/right information at the right time - then people will be delighted with their search results, and guess what? You will be rewarded by getting great search/social traffic over a long period of time.
No longer can you simply ‘buy links’ and think of that as your SEO strategy. The world is now much more ‘social’.
Here is a quick list of ways to show if you are at risk of being left behind:
- Are you still thinking just in terms of keywords?
- Is your view of your success just based on search results for those terms?
- Is ‘link building’ still your main SEO tactic?
- Are you focused on spreadsheets when it comes to SEO?
- Is the number one spot on Google how you get most of your online business?
- Do you consider ‘anchor text’ to be crucial?
- Is SEO seen as a ‘silo’ of marketing?
- Do you assume your SEO approach can be ‘left to it’ whilst you put new marketing energies elsewhere?
If so, you need to rethink.
The first thing to know is that a technical audit is an easy way to sort out issue within your site itself. That is essential for SEO. But you need to change to catch this next wave...
How SEO Is Changing Business Practices
In the past so many people used to buy links to increase their ranking on Google. You would employ a company, or staff member, to lead the SEO push and they would target keywords. Then you would squeeze a load of those keywords into your content’s text and hope you would get some visibility. You would use social like you would send spammy emails to people, and you would sit back and hope customers would simply arrive.
Well, this is no longer good enough, instead you need to look at:
- Creating quality content
- Have a website that people find easy to get around with content relevant to the user
- Reaching beyond your site so people begin to talk about you and your business - creating a buzz
- Have advocates who ‘love your content’ and want to spread the word
- Have ways to engage the customer in conversation
- Stay ahead of the rest - be the one people want to include in the latest conversations.
All the way, content is King. (And engagement is Queen, as consultant Mari Smith says; and Community is Kingdom, as we say here at PYB!).
20 years ago marketing was taught using the Jerome McCarthy model of the 4Ps: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion (distribution).
This is, however, outdated.
Now, it is more like global advertising and marketing firm Ogilvy & Mather’s 4Es: Experience, Exchange, Everyplace, and Evangelism.
In 2008 Kevin Kelly, founder and former editor of Wired, talked about “1,000 True Fans.” These are the ones who spread the word; amplifying your message.
And just like we looked at in module 2, David Amerland says we need to focus on three things: trust, reputation, authority - which are gained in that order.
David Amerland says “The absence of a central authority creates a currency out of perceived trust, which then acquires monetary value that translates into increased eCommerce and Internet services activity.”
Trust and Author Rank
“Trust is one of those qualities that you cannot easily define but is worth its weight in gold.” David Amerland
When it comes to ‘trust’ what you used to go can only go so far in this new world of the semantic web. You can no longer ‘buy’ trust with an expensive website. Instead, every time you reach a potential customers you have a touchpoint that will determine whether you build trust, especially through your social activities.
Trust online will stem from two experiences:
1. Direct experience - e.g. having already been a customer of your company, and
2. No direct experience - this is where a third party comes in.
In this way, on web as David Amerland says is “the most popular third-party “suggestion engine” is search.”
Creating an Identity in a Connected World
“The Web is more a social creation than a technical one. I designed it for a social effect—to help people work together—and not as a technical toy. The ultimate goal of the Web is to support and improve our weblike existence in the world. We clump into families, associations, and companies. We develop trust across the miles and distrust around the corner.” From, In Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web, by Tim Berners-Lee.
It is Google+ that leads the way in making people want to use their real name, photograph and information. Before Google+ there was not really an incentive to do so; you could create a twitter handle and ‘burn it’ if you wanted to come back ‘as another person.’ But Google+ is different.
Trust and Authority
Until recently, ‘Page Rank’ (named after Larry Page) determined authority and trust online.
In this example, the larger the circle, the more importance is would be given in Google Search.
The information attributed to links themselves would include:
Relevance of the website linking
The location of the link on the webpage itself
Anchor text used to link
The ‘importance’ of the linking website
The age of the website, the page and the link
Ranking and Reputation Scores
As David Amerland says, “having an algorithm judge your reputation is no easy thing.”
This leads us to ‘Author Rank’ which considers the following in relation to a piece of content:
- Who created it
- What else they've created
- The content creator’s connections on social media platforms
- Their online activity
- The content’s quality e.g. originality
- The nature of the content e.g. type of words (relating to level in a subject), the paragraph length etc.
- The use of multimedia on a site etc.
As such, trust can now be determined by an algorithm and businesses need to take note.
All of this has been made possible by Google being about to attribute content to its right owners.
As you can see below, the article has been attributed to me and my Google+ profile image is displayed alongside.
Getting your image displayed in Search
To get this ‘Google authorship’ markup you will need:
- To add a clear head shot,
- to a Google+ Profile (not a Page), and
- Tag that you are the person in that image, and
- Link in the ‘contributor to’ section on your Google+ Profile to sites on which you have authored content, and
- Have a link back from those sites to your Google+ Profile i.e. a two way link, including using a Google+ badge.
What to check what you have linked up?
Google: ‘Structured Data Testing Tool’ and from that page you will be able to drop in a URL and see what has been connected.
Search is changing and you really want to be ready. And we can help, of course.