SEO – Who/ How/ Why

ID-10074108Almost any business can reap the benefits of an SEO initiative. Steve Wiideman, SEO director, expert and trainer mentioned the simplicity of SEO and who could gain value from an SEO effort. “If there’s a keyword that could drive traffic to your website, you’re going to benefit from SEO. Anybody—doctor, plumber, lawyer—as long as there’s a search, they can benefit from SEO.” Of course, you must have keywords that are recognized and searched by your target audience. If you’re using a fancy word that no one knows, then your chances of driving traffic to your site are slim to none.

More often than not, major brands tend to benefit the most. Through their steady practice of both online and offline marketing and “cut no corners” methods, they have established trust with their audience and ultimately search engines. Supposedly, the Wall Street Journal can rank for any keyword within 15 minutes because of their authoritative reputation and trust.

To start, a successful SEO strategy should consist of four things: Research and Planning, Website level SEO, Off-page SEO and User Behavior. In regards to research and planning, find the best keywords for what you are trying to draw attention to about your company. Also look at the keywords and external links that your competitors are using and benefiting from. Website level SEO is making your website search engine friendly. This includes the optimization of content for higher search engine placement. Off-page SEO focuses on links and mentions, digital PR, authorship signals, and influencer engagement. Build your “trust” by creating content that is a valuable, referable data source. Last is User Behavior. Draw your target audience in with compelling titles and meta descriptions. But when people visit your site, your content must deliver on its promise to provide valuable information or users will bounce right back to Google search if they can’t find what they’re looking for. Easy navigation tools will allow users to fully engage, and your great content will encourage longer visits on your website.

With Google’s Panda update, curated content is getting a slap on the wrist and making traditional SEO practices more complex. Also, the tactics we used in the past, such as “stuffing the ballot box” by blasting articles, link farms and gibberish content full of keywords are failing. With recent index and rank changes, this type of spamming activity is going to be penalized. Content originators who have been generating original, unique and relevant content are the ones who are going to be able to have a considerable advantage on rankings. This is because original content always trumps copycat posts and links.

Is There Good Curation

There absolutely is good curation. However, it is hard to come by. Good curation can come in the form of posting an article or blog on your website that has useful information or information that most people are not aware of. Don’t just copy and paste the link or article without adding your own twist or introductory comments. Steve explained, “Google will recognize a really good, efficient use of curation from all of the engagement activity and help you holistically with your search. A downside of curation could be the creation of an automated system that grabs RSS feeds and automatically pushes them out as links without any engagement or organic content.” The words “automate” and “curation” should not be in the same sentence when you are determining how you might include some elements of curation into your social media and content marketing publishing.

Author Rank

Author Rank is a new concept that will greatly influence SEO going forward. When thinking about author rank, it is more than just an author’s name. If an author has the majority of his content shared, liked or discussed, we begin to see the content rank better. Content that is not very useful or engaged by users will not be noticed by Google. “The biggest benefit of authorship is going to be thinking about influencers, and getting those influencers to engage with you, to have conversations with key people in the industry. Having authorship on a site and having engagement with an influencer back and forth is definitely something that plays into that Author Rank and can help your SEO,” said Steve.

To grow rankings, how do you trigger engagement around your posts? Steve offered an excellent suggestion. “The number one thing that I would do as a small business is survey my customers and log the questions that they usually ask. Make a list of all those frequently asked questions and build out a calendar of how you might answer those questions.” Your audience’s needs are your leading source of content. Do not build content that only explains your goods or services. Build content that gives solutions to what your customers are asking or seeking. Provide them with the facts and they will follow your trail of content crumbles to your doorstep.

ROI and Measurement

The challenging part of SEO is trying to measure ROI when dollar values are not easily attached to a specific result, such as lead generation. Before investing more time and energy into SEO, it is critical to define what a lead is worth in dollars. Once established, put those values into the web metrics, goal tracking, Google analytics, or Omniture to create a baseline. Plug in your costs and measure the change in monthly increments.

For items that might not necessarily have a dollar value, put together a spreadsheet of things you want to track. It could be anything: new subscribers, number of comments, number of shares, emails submitted, downloads and webinar signups. As with the dollar values, periodically check your results to see if a particular initiative, piece of content or campaign had a positive effect; i.e., are more people searching for your brand and did that increased activity convert to sales or leads?

Join the Conversation:

  • How do you intertwine the needs/questions of your target audience into your content?
  • If you’re not happy with your search ranking, do you believe you can upgrade your website with the tips we’ve provided to improve your ranking?
  • Are there other things you have done that worked well to improve your SEO ranking?
This article highlights selected excerpts from CMX’s interview with Steve Wiideman and Martin van der Roest on SEO & Content Marketing, April 10, 2013.