by: Jubran Moe
Edited by: Alexander Nachman
Keep in Mind the Basics
Something to keep in mind when approaching SEO is that the basics will stay roughly the same. It is true that it is always beneficial to look to future opportunities and ways to innovate, but the great thing about SEO is that the basics will most often provide what is needed. Getting the basics right can potentially be as important or more important than a celebrity sponsor, a great link, or global popularity.
My opinion is that an honest assessment of web performance, information stats and user experience, as well as having reliable reporting and assessing techniques, is the key. In the end, the goal is to maximize traffic, â€œlikesâ€, tweets, and recognition in general.
Onsite keyword targeting
Search friendly development (i.e. can the search engines find and index my content)
Accurate analytics installation
Set-up of Webmaster Tools for notifications and site management
If you can stick to the above basics, then you can potentially sky rocket ahead of your competition.
Success is More Important Than Aesthetics
Another vital aspect of a campaign is that the most useful terms may not always be the most important terms when it comes to keywords to target to attract traffic and enhance linkbuilding.
Ecommerce campaigns are often easier to assess progress and track efforts.
When taking on a client who has previous activity and statistics, check which keywords have explicitly led to higher profits and sales, as opposed to the most searched generic terms. Accessing this information will place you ahead of the game and if you are starting fresh, you should think about using paid search campaigns to assess the appropriate messaging and keyword targeting, as opposed to observing volume and opportunity for possible traffic.
Of course, it goes without saying that increasing traffic is highly valuable, but itâ€™s much easier to assess success and measure budget by relating SEO campaigns to a specific goal.
Organize a business plan by assessing a value added approach, savings from other options, and persuading your client to agree to the goals of the website before putting in too much time and money in keyword volume. Also, be realistic about goals compared with other sites that may be more or less popular than yours.
Attract Consumers, Not Robots
Many of us are tired of hearing that â€œcontent is king.â€ Itâ€™s still very important and search engines have become quite good at discerning genuine information and language. They can also identify content that was created for increasing traffic and improving search rankings, which may be weak and masked. One needs to balance how to use the best of keywords and search engines, while creating interesting content for users.
If you are writing interesting content for humans, then it is not necessary to write different pages for similar keywords unless you are improving search results. One way to do this is to increase the quality of each page in terms of relevancy to tags and subjects, as well as information.
Eloquently stated by Avinash Kaushik, â€œDonâ€™t write cheques your website canâ€™t cash.â€ If your content is written merely to appear in search results, and unlikely to appeal to a real person, then it will be much harder to convert consumers. Increasing traffic is important, but content must also attract users.
Writing good content will place you ahead of the game. And if the basics are nailed, then it will make your campaign all the more effective.
Different Niches Require Different Strategies
One important concept is that strategies that work in one field may not necessarily work in another. Search engines use a wide range of algorithms designed to process content. Each field/niche requires a different strategy and each time you start a new campaign it may help to see what others are doing to adjust and compete.
In competitive niches your best bet may be to use your strengths to your advantage. This will help your ranks better than trying to use the same tactics. Trying to stand out among the competition and marketing uniqueness may work better for new sites, as opposed to trying to rank up as much as possible.
Creating an initial strategy is very important. What works in certain niches, what competitors are doing, and what your goals are, are some ways to design a strategy that may work very well.
Similarly, the importance of varying linkbuilding tactics is growing. Many people are now emphasizing the importance of varying anchor text in linkbuilding profiles and it seems that this will continue in the coming months.
Search engines have states that they are fighting optimization, while at the same time Google has announced that they are changing they way they assess anchor text. Many people will be caught by surprise in the coming months if they are not paying attention, which is why it is likely a good idea to start varying text and strategies. If you can spot a sketchy link, then why canâ€™t a computer, in time?
Understand and Research Your Target Market
Weâ€™ve already discussed the value of conversion data and consumer behavior and usage data but one of the oft-overlooked considerations that I see time and again is the need to target local markets differently across the board: language, geo-targeting, and local linkbuilding.
Weâ€™ve addressed conversion data, consumer preference, and usage data, but another important topic is targeting local markets with different tactics: language, geography, and local links.
As important as getting your messaging right is making sure that the right site is found by the intended audience. This can be addressed by a number of means, though importantly the following opportunities should be explored/considered:
The first step in ensuring that the local audience can find the site. The best means to ensure this are the following:
Organize content according to the market in which you function.
Use native speakers for local content.
Use hreflang if you have similar content for multiple markets
Donâ€™t use rel=canonical if content is similar but has â€œimportantâ€ differences (i.e. different currencies, etc).
Use local (to the target market) if possible
Ensure that any geo targeting reliant on subfolders or subdomains are set up properly in Webmaster Tools
Investigate the source of your links as well as competitor links ranking in local SERPs
Do you need more local links to rank?
Finally, be sure to understand how local markets respond to results. Just because the .com site ranks for a term, doesnâ€™t necessarily mean that you will receive the same return of CTR, even if it redirects to the local site. A survey by nominet asserts that 81% of UK browsers prefer to click on a UK result. This information can be extremely valuable when assessing which strategies work where.
Use Microdata (Schema.org)
A great, untapped, tool is microdata and support from schema.org.
Currently, the amount of schema that are supported in the search results are limited. However, annotated listings and inventory information may have a large influence on CTR and really benefit a listing.
It should be clear to search engines that they should continue to support this kind of technology because of the benefit that it provides browsers and users.
For now, it appears that the use of microdata is most helpful for publishers, businesses, ecommerce sites, and travel sites with forums. This will become increasingly beneficial to users, however, and can make a listing stand out quite effectively to increase sales.
Social and SEO
One of the misunderstandings of digital space is the assertion that Social and SEO should be used together, or that social is necessary for successful SEO. There are a few risks with this concept: There is some ambivalence in the SEO community regarding the value of social media and its impact on rankings. Also, that these separate industries will be seem as the same.
There are several skills that many who work in social media can contribute to SEO. Brand affinity and trust may lead to more links, or discussing a brand, which may draw better rankings. However, the sole purpose of social media is not to increase rankings and social media may not be â€œsuccessfulâ€ in the eyes of SEO is they cannot do this.
Of course, there are fields in which community managers and social media experts can benefit SEO, such as blogging, but the immediate joining of the two may lead to a stagnation in both parties. There are many skills that one specialist may possess on one side and another may not possess on the other, allowing for potentially valuable exchanges and collaboration. Additionally, there are benefits from both sides for the other, which is why a good balance between SEO and social media is necessary without jumping to immediate conclusions about mixing the two.
Social and SEO (like PPC and SEO and indeed Social and PPC) have clear opportunities to complement one another but creating a Twitter profile or Facebook page â€œfor the sake of itâ€ will surely not lead to a good social presence and are unlikely to lead to improvements in the search results if not managed proactively and properly.
SEO and social media can both clearly benefit the other, especially in Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms. Experiments are needed without joining just because they seem to make sense with one another.
Target Local and Online
Another underdeveloped field is local search. Many larger businesses find it difficult to stay updated with local information and keep their presence relevant in local communities. Some also give up on trying.
This is now a great opportunity for local shops to take advantage of the lack of interaction that many larger brands have with local communities. On the other side, many local brands ignore the opportunity to update their website and increase their presence on the web. It is always important to stay updated!
This is mostly ignored by larger brands because of the complications involved in logistics, but it hasnâ€™t been taken advantage of by smaller/local businesses. Some words of advice may be to look for connection from local businesses, update website content consistently, making sure that you relate to the online community as much as the local community.
Never stop testing
This final section is addressed to the industry. While the basics are and will continues to be a key component to success, keeping up to date with the latest technologies, algorithms, and strategies in order to keep your site competitive is extremely important.
As evidenced by Bing so kindly asking me to write this post the search engines are beginning to take a much more proactive role in reaching out to webmasters to help them provide users with the best possible search experience.
Thankfully, search engines are now reaching out to webmasters to help provide browsers and searchers with the best services and experience. Opportunities for increased results, addressing issues for international sites, and optimization come about everyday. It is all about taking advantage of the opportunities!