I figured that this would make a great first blog post on my new site because it’s something that several of my clients have asked me about. It can be a very difficult topic to explain and understand. I’ve even lost new potential projects in meetings with people demanding to be ranked number #1. I felt obligated to tell them that achieving a high ranking for a competitive keyword could take several months and thousands of dollars. Even if it was for an low competitive keyword, there’s no way anyone can guarantee that number one spot because Google frequently rolls out new algorithms that will shake up the rankings and it’s hard to predict the strategies that their competitors are going to implement which could out rank them at anytime. Talk about a hard sell!
Also, if someone does guarantee you a #1 ranking I’d be extremely cautious of their services. Poor/cheap SEO can actually destroy your rankings and can even get you banned from the search listings.
I’ll do my best to simplify the wording and technical jargon in this post so that hopefully after reading this, you’ll have a better understanding of SEO and what exactly it means for you and your business online.
What Is SEO?
Google has gotten extremely smart over the last few years (scary smart) and has cracked down big on websites using “Search engine optimization tactics” to try to rank at the top. You may have even heard of this and their algorithms (such as: Panda and Penguin) which are basically meant to penalize sites with poor site content and using spamming backlinks to try to “manipulate” the rankings.
Google’s focus has always been to rank the “highest quality” sites at the top for it’s users and to penalize sites who over-optimize or try to “fake their quality.” Over optimization basically means: keyword stuffing, getting links from spam sites, using automated software, spinning articles (rewriting published articles to try to make them your own). Basically, doing anything online that your grandma wouldn’t approve of.
To rank in Google you need to have: unique content added to your site regularly (written for people, not for search engines), listings on reputable directory sites (citations) such as: Yahoo, Yellow Pages, Yelp, Google Places, your local chamber of commerce, etc… links to your site from other high quality relevant sites (industry related), social media presence (social signals), and your site needs to have the proper text formatting (meta tags, schema markup, titles, and headings).
Also, your site has to perform well for users. This means that your bounce rate (people who leave your site without viewing additional pages) is low, having a long site browsing time, fast loading time, high click through rate in search listings, and a responsive/optimized site for mobile. These are all statistics that Google measures and takes into consideration while ranking your site. They keep detailed records of the exact movement and behavior users have on your site and compare the user experience of your site to other competitive sites, this allows them to “reward” high performance sites by ranking them higher.
*All this information is also available for you to use and monitor for free in Google Analytics & Google Webmaster Tools. However, there are additional premium tools that I recommend, such as MOZ.
Is SEO Dead? Well kind Of…
While it’s important to optimize your on-page content (headings, site map, title, description, image alt tags, etc…) to help Google crawl your site and understand what kind site it is. This is only the first part to ranking your site. The second part is your site’s content. The content refers to images, videos, text, but most of all…your blog.
Your blog, vlog (video blog), or podcast is content that is added regularly to your site, known as Content Marketing. In a nutshell content marketing is:
A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Content Marketing has been around for a while, but after Google cracked down on over-optimization, increased the number of ranking factors, and has devalued many older traditional SEO methods. More marketers are turning to creating unique high quality content and pumping out new articles/videos to increase their rankings. Some other benefits of creating regular content are:
- Allows you to target more keywords
- Longer visitor site browsing time
- Visitors are more likely to view multiple pages
- Increases your brand authority and credibility
- Easy to share on social media
- Encourages Google to crawl your site more often
- Encourages visitors to revisit your site frequently
- Other sites will want to naturally link to your content/site
If you don’t believe me, check this out from Google Trends:
Ever since 2013, Content Marketing surpassed SEO Marketing in popularity and is being implemented more often than “traditional SEO” in online marketing strategies. This new radical change can be seen by large companies who are starting blogs, creating videos, or publishing reports for the first time and are now curating their own content at staggering rates to retain their rankings in Google.
SEO Is Getting Easier
In the last few years there is now a greater focus on increasing your ranking naturally, based on the quality of the user experience your site provides and the metrics that Google gathers from people who visit your site. If people naturally enjoy your site content, spend time browsing multiple pages, share your articles on social media, come back to your site frequently, and can easily browse your site on their phone…Your rankings will organically increase in the rankings.
Content is king! focus on creating your own content (infographics, blog posts, videos, whitepapers, eBooks, podcasts, reports, photos, etc…) and share them with your fans. You content should also focus on solving a common problem that your customers have. That way your providing free information that is highly valuable to your target audience and will leave them more satisfied and confident in your company.
Just as SEO, Content Marketing is a long-term marketing strategy. It takes time for the search engines to index your content and you may be competing with other sites targeting the same keywords. However, if you’re consistent with adding new content, share it on social media, send article email updates, publish valuable engaging content…you will see huge improvements over time with your rankings, website traffic, and an increase in customer inquires.
I hope that helped give you some more insight to SEO and how there’s been a huge shift in just the last year or so that has made many companies completely rethink their online marketing strategies and how their using the power of content marketing to dominate the rankings and grow their online presence.
Let me know if you have any questions or have feedback, thanks!