Over the past few months, there has been a lot of hot air floating around on whether or not SEO has seen better days. Last week I attended the MarketingProfs B2B in Boston and it was the topic of conversation for many interested marketers. Whenever I am asked this question I happily answer with, "SEO's NOT dying, it’s evolving. It has simply expanded past the traditional borders of a website, and is moving into every aspect of SERPs domination."
This new wave of SEO revolves around keeping the end user in mind. So instead of writing for the search engines, you NEED to be writing for the end users! And with all the new ways to claim real estate and communicate your brand within SERPs, there's no time for you to be dragging your feet.
Being how SEO has evolved -- here are five best practices you should be implementing with your brand in 2011:
1. Claim What Is Rightfully Yours
The good ol' days of search where you were lucky to get a #1 spot on Google is over. According to Fionn Downhill, VP of Strategy at SyCara Inc, It's no longer about participation, but domination. Nowadays, domain stacking makes it possible for your brand to claim real estate in search engine listings.
Look to platforms such as:
However, more importantly, think about your target market and where they spend most of their time online. Be everywhere they are. This gives you a greater chance of being seen. Plus, the more sites you belong to, the better chance you have of showing up in branded SERPs.
Be in control! After all, it is your brand.
2. Wordsmith Your Website
When it comes to content, you have to be strategic. First, think about how someone would search for your products or services. Keyword research is the best way to find out which words and phrases are the most popular in relation to search queries related to your brand. The Google AdWords Keyword Tool is one of many tools that is great for this.
Next, cluster like words and phrases together to form what is called a long-tail keyword. These keywords are comprised of primary keywords (keywords that are most important and want to rank for) as well as secondary keywords (less important filler keywords that are meant to support your primary keywords). This is a good way of acquiring more targeted traffic.
Finally, insert these keywords into your copy as well as source code. Areas such as title tags and meta tags (keyword and description) are ideal places, being that search engine bots will have information to crawl and read. So when a user performs a search query that is relevant to your content, your website has the potential to be seen.
3. Think "Inbound Links"
Inbound links are hyperlinks from 3rd party websites that link to other websites. They are seen as a "vote" of popularity, which makes them very valuable. However, it's not just about the link, but also what the link says (anchor text).
Think about it -- when a search bot crawls a website, it will read the anchor text, what it says and how it links back to your site. Not only are you getting credit for the link, but also what the anchor text says. This can be a great way to gain unbranded search rankings.
Do all that you can to collect these links. But keep in mind, the quality of links outweighs the quantity of links. So look to acquire links with value. That being said, steer clear of Black Hat link practices. Links should never be bought or tampered with. We all saw how JCPenney got burned by the iron fist of Google. Do not make the same mistake!
4. Digital Assets Are Key
Just about everyone has at least some form of digital assets. Whether it's a White Paper, a blog, videos, images, etc, use what you have already created to work for you. It's about working smart, not hard.
Digital assets are a great way to communicate your brand. Certainly applying SEO best practices such as choosing the right keywords and link building will help, but it is up to you how far you want to go. For instance, taking the time to upload videos into YouTube goes a long way. If you take the time to optimize everything on your website, you will have a better chance of showing up in SERPs.
Again, keep the end user in mind. What types of digital assets would be most appealing to them?
5. We Are in a Real-Time State of Mind
Everything is happening in the "now" and search engines not only love it, but also reward it. When it comes to communication, people love to talk – talk about their day, something they just found out, voicing a complaint, and so on. With all of this talking, word can travel fast.
What if they are talking about your brand? How would you respond? If you are not there to embrace it (whether it is positive or negative), then prepare to suffer the consequences. We all saw what happened to United Airlines when they did not respond to an issue back in 2009. And with social platforms showing up in SERPs, the game has become even more interesting.
All of this comes back to being everywhere you can. Do not just sit back and wait. Be proactive and represent your brand. Get in the conversation and make a difference.
Implementing these five tactics will ensure success to your website and brand. It takes time. Do not be bent on rising to the top as fast as you can. Put more of an emphasis on sustainability -- achieving a visible position in SERPs and maintaining it. Remember, with SEO, you are in for the long haul.
by Justin Champion. Justin serves as a Search Marketing Sales Consultant for Search Mojo, a dedicated search marketing agency. He works with prospective clients to determine the best search marketing strategy for their unique situation. He is also a regular contributor to Search Mojo’s blog, Search Marketing Sage.