SEO isn’t what it was five years ago. Or even two years ago. Even 6 months ago, come to think of it.
The past year has changed a lot in search. Google and its smaller counterparts are finding innovative ways of determining what quality is, whether sites can be trusted and how people are engaging with your site. More importantly, they’re using these indicators to decide, in part, where you should rank for your keywords within the search engines.
It has been possible to achieve decent search rankings without a social media presence, without a Google Places listing… without even having a real brand presence. But that’s all changing and it’s changing in the favour of the end user – the people who use the search engines to find what they are looking for.
I’m not suggesting that the algorithm is perfect and that only people who have a great, organic link profile and a wonderful following on social media platforms will rank. We will always encounter cases where someone, somewhere manages to achieve high rankings by manipulating the algorithm.
But there are four areas in particular that, in my opinion, can no longer be excluded from the remit of a SEO.
We know a few things for sure about social media:
Pretty impressive, but how does that link in with search engine optimisation? Well:
Conclusion: How can social media NOT be an integral part of a rounded SEO campaign? Failing to integrate it doesn’t only mean you’re missing out huge online branding potential, but you could be hindering your rankings too.
SEOs have always known the value of having unique content that it is unique to your site. But since Google’s Panda update which rolled out in the US in February 2011 and in the UK in April 2011, it’s even more critical.
Poor content on even just a handful of pages on your site could hinder the whole site.
It’s not just about getting keywords into content. It’s about:
Conclusion: Frequently updated, fresh and original content is essential to rankings. It therefore goes without saying that on some level this comes under the SEO’s remit, whether on a ‘giving advice’ level or getting hands on with the content themselves.
Google Places listings now pop up above organic search results for the vast majority of searches with a geographic element in them. They also show up for a host of searches where there is no geographical element. Having a claimed, verified and optimised Google Places listing has multiple benefits:
A part of Google’s algorithm is based on rewarding ‘trusted’ websites. This means finding your company’s brand, link or mentions on other trustworthy places on the Internet.
Google ultimately wants to produce an algorithm that delivers the highest quality, most relevant and trusted websites to its searchers. This means identifying ranking factors that are more difficult for spammers to manipulate and one such factor is this trusted brand element. As such, I can only see this becoming increasingly prominent.
In addition to that, the rise of social media has given a voice to consumers – both in a good and bad way! Someone searching for your brand on Google is likely to find your site first and possibly even second and third too. But what comes beneath that on the first page could be anything. It could be a blog post written about your company or a forum thread about them. It could be positive or negative.
SEOs are now often also charged with ensuring that you are building a positive brand online, that searches for your brand result in users finding your site, your social media profiles and other similar things.
Thanks to smartphones we don’t have to be sitting in front of a laptop or desktop computer to find what we are looking for. We can be out and about and hunting out what we need. This is giving rise to increasing numbers of searches from mobile devices. Our job, as SEOs, is to:
Part of the process may involve recommending a mobile website or similar in order not to exclude users on the move from your site. But as SEOs, our job is to make sure we understand your website traffic inside out and can make recommendations accordingly.
But the point is that SEOs simply cannot afford to ignore mobile. As Eric Schmidt himself conceded, mobile is ‘growing faster than any of us anticipated.’
This really is a quick overview. I’ve already broken my, ‘don’t waffle on for 1000 words’ in a blog post rule despite this being a fairly brief insight.
But the fact is that search engines are becoming smarter. They’re getting better and better at identifying a site’s true value to a user and they’re embracing the social media age. As such, a 360 degree approach is no longer an ‘added bonus’ in SEO. It’s absolutely vital.
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About the Author
Stacey joined us in 2009 as a junior copywriter; now she's a recognised figure on the global speaking circuit, having wowed audiences in the UK, Europe and US - including at MozCon 2014. She leads our search team and works with clients to deliver high-level campaign strategies.Visit Stacey's Page
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