Google’s done it again — revised the algorithm it uses to score internet content — and everyone is buzzing about what this means for your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts and how it’ll impact your SERPs (Search Engine Results). That’s because, even with superior social media marketing, a significant number of visits still come from consumers searching for answers to their problems.
I’ve never worried much about the Google algorithm. I just try to give visitors a fantastic experience every time they visit my website. And that’s really all Google’s doing when it tweaks its algorithm — trying to make sure folks using Google find content that answers their needs. That’s why 70% of all searches happen on Google.
The future of SEO on Google
Of course, website owners use SEO to bring as much traffic to their website as possible because more traffic means more conversions, which means a healthier bottom line for your business. The players who get hurt the most when Google changes its algorithm (which it does almost weekly) are those trying to game the system using “Black Hat” SEO tactics. Termed “Black Hat” SEO because users try to fool the Google Bot into thinking their website is more valuable than users find it. “Black Hat” SEO sites see visits plummet when Google introduces major changes, such as those included in Panda and Penguin updates over the last year or so.
Recent changes impacting SEO include:
- Keyword stuffing penalties — including your keyword unnaturally and too frequently in a post
- Rewards for social shares — increasingly, Google rewards websites engaging their social media community. That’s because Google quite rightly assumes people vote for better content when they Like, Share, and Comment.
- Reduced impact of links. It used to be that SEO relied heavily on time-consuming efforts to get links back to your website from authoritative sources. More recently, Google began penalizing sites with unnatural links — links to sites with no logical connection to the content of the site. Now, talk is that Google is further reducing the impact of inbound links because it recognizes these links don’t necessarily reflect the value of the website.
- Semantic search, which means Google is now trying to figure out WHAT you were looking for when you typed keywords into the search bar. This is a natural progression from auto-complete and other modifications to the search bar designed to improve the effectiveness of search to address users’ queries.
The new SEO
In effect, what Google is doing with each progressive algorithm update is emphasize the role of good MARKETING on your SERPs, rather than attempts to game the system using traditional SEO tools. Hence, the best way to handle current and future changes to the Google algorithm is the same — DO GOOD MARKETING. And, when I say marketing, I mean marketing — not just communication. Good marketing means you give customers what they want, when they want it, at a fair price. Do good marketing and your SEO will take care of itself. As evidence, each time webmasters lament how much their rankings suffered after a Google change, my site makes huge IMPROVEMENTS. That’s because good marketing has always been the hallmark of my SEO strategy — even when SEO experts working for me told me I was crazy.
So, what do I mean when I say do good marketing? Here are some tips that’ll make your website rank well regardless of changes Google makes (BTW, thanks to Lisa Gerber for her presentation on SEO at Vocus Demand 13 for helping me create this list):
- Create compelling content
- Share and solve problems, don’t sell. People will buy if you give them a compelling solution to their problem.
- Be real — don’t hide behind corporate-speak and don’t be afraid to be yourself or feel you have to be perfect.
- Be relevant — stay up-to-date on what’s going on in your industry.
- Keep your focus on your market. What are their pains? How can you help? Think about making their lives easier and you’ll solve your own problems.
Your SEO program
So, writing compelling content and solving problems is great. But, you don’t want to hide your solution under a rock or no one will ever find you. Here are some tools to help you along the way:
- SEOMoz — now simply MOZ. They have a great set of tools to help you understand what visitors do on your site and optimize your SEO. Have them crawl your site periodically.
- Use SEO tools. I use WordPress SEO by Joost de Valk (who is brilliant by the way).
- Keywords — actually keyword phrases using the Google Keyword Tool
We’re here to help with all your content marketing strategies. Subscribe to our email newsletter for cutting-edge insights to make your social media marketing SIZZLE. Or, contact us if you want help crafting and integrating elements of your content marketing campaign.