As 2014 comes to an end, this is the time when marketers naturally reflect on the past year and look forward to the new one. Over the past couple months, I’ve written about must have’s for 2015 marketing plans and some dynamic shifts in Internet marketing as we know it. But I wouldn’t be considered an online marketer if I didn’t touch on one of the most dramatic changes we’ve seen over the last couple of years – the evolution of SEO (search engine optimization).
I recently participated in a webinar with Rand Fishkin from Moz entitled: Cracking the SEO Code for 2015: Tactics to Love vs. Leave and I’ve got to tell you he pointed out some pretty eye opening things. These are things that many online marketers are doing wrong and things that must change if there’s any hope in your website showing up in Google. I’m going to break it all down with a few major points from the presentation.
Gone are the Days of Traditional SEO
The good old fashioned tactics of trying to match on-page for exact phrase keywords by using the phrase in the domain, headings, within the content and links are just that – old fashioned. That’s no longer what SEO is about. In fact, Rand pulled up several Google search examples showing the first few results not even mentioning the exact keyword phrase at all in the traditional on-page SEO way.
It’s now about understanding user intent and moving away from keyword matching to topic association. What topics are you the authority on and what type of content naturally revolves around those topics? Sure, keywords are naturally going to be used, but it’s not necessary to setup a new page for every single keyword – it can all be grouped together into one page with info around a specific topic.
Google is Becoming Smarter
Google is functioning more like a person and less like a robot. It’s getting better at understanding user intent. It knows what people actually want to read based upon social signals and the searcher’s behavior. Results are also becoming more personalized and it’s increasingly difficult to “dominate” a keyword or phrase across the board. It’s now about what Google is able to associate with your brand vs. what keywords you’re using.
Real Brands are Winning Search
Google is now learning more toward rewarding brands. Brands are what people know and trust. Brands are what create quality content that people actually want to read. The days of being able to setup a website, publish a few articles and expect to instantly begin getting traffic for the keywords your site is targeting are history.
Ranking well in search engines such as Google is now about being in more than one place, developing a reputation and consistently producing different types of useful multimedia content.
Winning at the New SEO is Winning at Online Branding
If you want to be successful in getting your website to rank well in search engines such as Google and get a good deal of organic traffic, it’s imperative that to truly understand your company’s brand. What are the unique strengths of your company and how can you create a truly unique online experience centered around those strengths?
The best tactic to employ here is what Rand referred to as “modern content investments.” What type of content marketing plan can you put together to create information that is:
- One of a kind – it could take weeks or months to develop it, but no one else ever has
- Relevant – extremely on point with user intent
- Helpful – solves a problem or multiple problems the user is facing
- Uniquely valuable – there’s a high level of worth to the info you’re providing
- Great UX – the content is easy to consume/interact with on all devices
- Likely to spread – who will share this content and why?
What to Do Next
Take the time to really think about your brand. Not just the way you see it, but the way your customers do. What do you want to focus on and what problems are you trying to solve? Now, every single piece of content you put out should easily be tied back to solving those problems or discussing those topics to create the ultimate brand association in Google’s eyes.
If more brand development needs to be done, that’s OK. The sooner you can nail this down, the easier it’s going to be to understand how you’re going to be able to win at the new SEO – online business branding.
Need help? Contact me to talk online branding strategies.