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SEO is evolving as a SEO consultant my job is becoming increasingly more interesting as Google improves its algorithms and customers need more from their results. In the good old days the client would pick a few keywords and you would get them to the top positions in Google, you would provide them with a monthly report of their positions and they would be happy.
That was before a few factors started to affect the way people do business and the way search engines have cracked down on certain techniques mean not only do SEO’s need to be more creative but work needs to be measured and actually get results a business can profit from.
With the invention of Search Engines and internet connections became faster and more accessible it soon became obvious that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) was going to be big business. With a bit of reverse engineering early SEO’s found a quick way to manipulate the Search Engines and get websites to the most prominent positions. This led to a lot of poor quality websites appearing at the top and search engines having to adapt their algorithms to improve user quality.
Search engines use robots, or spiders, to crawl the internet and take a snapshot, or cache, of your website. They follow links and read content and code to interpret relevance of your website for particular keywords.
It was easier to manipulate the search engines a few years ago and SEO’s could just put in some spammy but unique content, tweak the META’s and Titles, throw a few spammy links at a site and they would shoot to page one. Google warned SEO’s time and time again that this was against their guidelines but had no real way of enforcing this unless a site had been reported to them or some really nasty technique was being used. Manual checks could get a site penalised but it was rare.
Search Engines have come on a long way since then, just look at the format of the pages, instead of just a list of SERPs there is personalisations, local search, news and blog search, rich snippets and shopping results as well as the natural and paid listings. Even credit card comparisons are coming up and social signals. These are all ways to get traffic and business to your website. To adapt to these changes Google is also cracking down on bad websites coming up with 40 to 50 algorithm changes a month targeting things like local, spun content, anchor text and of course those links they have warned you about for the past 5 years and you ignored them.
The way SEO is evolving means our job at SEO Creative is getting harder, but in many ways more fun! The old style of conveyor belt optimisation where a programmer would do changes, indian content writers would write content and links would be bought or rented are a thing of the past. Clients want long term results and quick wins are no longer viable.
Social Media – Facebook right!
Well yes Facebook is a social media platform and Facebook marketing for your business can introduce you to lots of new customers and gain a lot of business, but Social Media encapsulates a lot more than just this.
The cliches of social media being about conversations, discussions and engagement are no less true because they are spouted by everyone and anyone with a LinkedIn profile. Social Media for your business is where the discussions are being held, where your target demographic hang out, is this Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn? Maybe… but it could also be Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and any of the other social media platforms.
Do you blog, do your customers and competitors blog? This is another less celebrated part of Social media as blogging generates discussions through comments and can be subscribed to through RSS feeds. Forums can be a great opportunity to use social media depending on your niche and review sites should always be monitored for social media as you should be aware of good and bad things people are saying about your website, brand or business.
Social Media can offer recommendations to your site such as links, followed and no followed, as well as social signals like Google plus and Facebook Likes. With Search Engine robots, or spiders, crawling the whole internet these signals, links and mentions will all be noted and affect your website positions in the SERPs. Even without the SEO benefits there is a lot to be said about gaining business through social media, you can respond quickly to complaints and enquiries, run competitions, build your brand and studies have shown that if a friend shares a link on Facebook then people are more likely to click on it.
Social Media can also be a great way of sharing link bait and great content as if your content is good enough people will share across platforms, re post on blog, forums and social media platforms and set of a meme effect. We have case studies where videos seeded in this way have received over 70,000 views on You Tube and shared across many platforms, and link bait content that has gained over 300 natural links within a week of being posted.
More and more people are using Social Media of some form and every business has an opportunity to get involved and get sales. As there are huge SEO benefits to using social media and really it comes under the internet marketing and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) umbrella we find social media playing a large part in our SEO strategy.
Conversion Rate Optimisation
Going back to SEO, a naughty trick some SEO agencies used to do would pick a keyword for a client guarantee a top position in the search engines or your money back. Great you think no risk! However many companies would pick a keyword that rarely gets searched for and has little competition and may only guarantee top results in a lesser known search engine that does not get used. So you have the number one position but no traffic and are stuck paying the SEO company for their work.
It is very important to pick keywords that get searched for and are within your budget, if not you may not get a good return on investment.
You should also pick keywords that will convert on your site, if you offer Africa Safaris but are number 1 for Africa, you will get a lot of hits, but a large proportion of these will bounce as the traffic is not specific enough to convert. We always do keyword research before any campaign and set up goals and KPIs, this may include some generic keywords and also many long tail variations that will bring in specific traffic. Google will often suggest a long tail variation therefore adding these to your campaign will good landing pages will help turn traffic into sales.
As an additional service (often included in full SEO campaigns) we will analyse the data making sure the search engine traffic is on the rise but also that this traffic is converting and not bouncing. This often includes extra tracking and design work to help clients get a good return from search engine traffic (and social media traffic).
So why do we do CRO as part of our full campaign?
It is simple, in today’s economy clients can’t afford to spend money on a campaign that isn’t giving them a monetary return, more businesses need justification for marketing spends and by tracking and proving results we help clients grow so they can afford to keep using us. Not entirely selfish though as there is nothing better than knowing you have gotten a 411% return on investment for a client!
Once upon a time PR and SEO were complete polar opposites but with the digital era our paths cross a lot more. It isn’t just SEO’s that have had to evolve, PR’s and marketeers have had to adapt as well making the lines of responsibility and work more blurred.
On larger campaigns, and specifically reputation management or seeding campaigns, I have often contacted journalists and sent out good quality press releases, this is becoming a big part of my SEO tasks not only for quality but also for building a clients brand.
For any clients that already have a PR company and marketing departments working for them, we offer SEO training and will work very closely with them to make sure all marketing activity is working together.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and Internet Marketing
So as you can see the definition of SEO is very blurred and will vary from company to company. In some ways this makes our job a lot more exciting and also helps the client build a more successful campaign. Internet Marketing can be fun and rewarding if you are being creative and the more creative the campaign the better the results. If your SEO is not doing all of the above make sure they are in full contact with anyone in your company or other suppliers that are managing theses areas.
There should always be clear communication between any online and offline marketing, data collection and analysis and design teams.
As digital marketing grows, it is not suprising that these areas are becoming blurred and it isn’t always clear what you can expect from a SEO provider. I suppose this is where SEO services will start to differentiate and depending on what package and presence your campaign needs you can choose a SEO consultant or agency that can provide this for you. I still expect some ‘traditional SEO’s will continue to do well as long as they liaise with other departments and agencys for the client but more and more I expect to see full service agencies and digital agencies employing SEO’s, social media specialists, Analytics experts, Conversion rate consultants, designer and PRs who can manage a clients campaign all under the same roof.