What you should and shouldn’t believe about SEO.
It can be tough to determine what you should believe about SEO (search engine optimization) and what you shouldn’t. There are plenty of people out there who will essentially lead you to believe that SEO is a magical entity that will bring your website endless traffic, the highest of search rankings, and bucketfuls of conversions. The truth of the matter is, a great deal of effort is required for you to have a successful web presence.
Don’t buy into it – the following legends are far from the truth.
Smoking is healthy. Pam Anderson is all natural. Milli Vanilli were talented musicians. These things are simply not true. Want to know what’s not true about SEO?
- SEO works quickly. False. The amount of time it takes for a strategy to become effective is entirely different from website to website. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can start a brand new website and see major results after a couple of months. That’s a rare occurrence. Be prepared to work your tush off in order to start seeing traction even a year out. If someone is telling you that immediate results are coming your way, they are either lying or engaging in black hat tactics.
- SEO is a one time activity. Not even close. Many factors play into the success of your online presence: the history of your domain, the strength of your brand, the quality and frequency of content you publish, your offsite efforts, and a few hundred other factors. SEO is impacted by just about every element of your website and online presence – and your efforts toward improvement cannot end.
Understand the change – the following were once effective but have transitioned into myths.
Times change, and so do the search engines. Similar to how we once believed Amy Pohler and Will Arnett would last forever or that bowl cuts and big bangs were the coolest hairstyles, we too must come to accept that certain tactics that were once helpful SEO strategies are no longer.
- Using keywords as many times as possible on your website is an effective SEO strategy. The days of stuffing tons of related terms onto your landing page are gone. But that’s a good thing! The search engines are WAY smarter than they used to be – they can identify synonyms, and they can understand the topic of your content even if you don’t write with exact match phrases. This allows us to write content the way it’s supposed to be written…naturally.
- Many pages of short content will help your website rank well. Let’s put the kibash on this one. Google and the other search engines are aiming for a good user experience, so if you are throwing a bunch of content on your website that it not helpful to the visitor, then you are doing yourself a disservice. Instead, focus on creating robust content that is actually valuable to visitors and portrays you as a reputable resource.
Pluto is a planet. Debunked. I know, bummer. We don’t have to be happy about disproving all of the myths, mysteries, and legends associated with SEO, but we do have to accept them. Search engine optimization is far from a concrete and consistent set of processes; it involves a slew of ever-evolving activities and refinements. It can be a little mysterious at times. If you can embrace the fact that you need to stay on your toes and be able to update your strategy when needed, you’ll save yourself a pinch of frustration. Just because something worked for one website does not mean it will work for yours – and something that worked for you 6 months ago may not be successful today. Keep at it and remain compliant with webmaster guidelines.
Have questions about other common SEO myths? Leave a comment and we can address it in a future post.
Ever post something to an online community before considering the consequences? That post remains on your digital footprint. In California, a new law was passed so minors have the option of requesting that embarrassing or scandalous content be removed from their digital footprint. Not everyone is as lucky as the youths of California. Be smart, so you can remain proud of your digital presence.
What is a digital footprint?
A digital footprint is the trail of data you leave behind when you interact with the online world. Such activities can include:
- Social media activity
- Website and blogging publishing
- Web searches
- Email communication
As an agency, you need to protect your digital trail. Be sure you are creating a brand with integrity…here are some tips:
Choose Appropriate Social Channels
What social channels are most appropriate for YOU? You don’t need to be on every social platform; figure out what you can keep up with and who you want to reach. How much time can you dedicate to digital marketing? Do you want to communicate with individuals or businesses? As a local insurance agency, some of the most important channels to consider are:
Be a Follower
If you are new to digital marketing, don’t blindly try to become a leader. Take some time to evaluate the activities that are already happening because you want to offer content that is deemed useful by the online world. Find out who the industry leaders are, what they are saying, the types of content they are sharing, and what is inspiring the most communication/feedback. Use that information as a starting point to gain some positive traction.
Find Your Voice
Your “voice” should be a representation of your brand. If you don’t have a solid branding strategy in place, get with your team and decide upon one. If your industry doesn’t set you apart, you need branding to give you a unique edge over the competition; after all, there is only one YOU. Your voice is part of your branding efforts – embrace that realization and use it to your benefit. Be sure to maintain consistency across channels.
Keep at It!
You’ve chosen your channels, you’re following others, and you have a voice. Now use them, and use them properly. Merely being present isn’t enough; you need to offer something to the outside world. Get out there and promote yourself – let the digital world know who you are and what you have to offer. And don’t forget to maintain a healthy, positive presence that is a proper reflection of your agency and brand.
You’ve heard us mention Google’s algorithm updates before, right? Time to talk about them again! The biggest players over the past couple of years have been Panda and Penguin. On May 22, 2013 the newest Penguin update was launched, and it’s called Penguin 2.0.
Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team, released a video in early May 2013 giving everyone a heads up about what to expect from Google’s algorithm updates in the coming months. In this video he mentions Penguin 2.0 and how the team at Google is continuing to utilize this strain of updates to target web spam.
What is Penguin 2.0?
The newest Penguin release takes a closer look at websites with links coming from low-quality, irrelevant, and seemingly spammy sites. Having inbound links from sites like this is usually an indicator that you are trying to gain authority or page rank by engaging in “black hat” tactics – such as purchasing links or creating “over optimized” sites. Google doesn’t approve of this.
What can you do?
If you have been following Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and have a produced an online presence (website, blog, and social activity) that is relevant and useful for your audience, then you should be safe. If you have been messing around with questionable tactics in order to get quick results, then you could be in for a bumpy ride in the coming months. Let’s review some healthy web practices that will help you stay on Google’s good side in light of Panda 2.0 (while simultaneously benefiting your audience).
- Continue to create compelling, relevant content. We’ve told you this repeatedly. One of the best ways to remain in Google’s good graces is to do what they have been asking websites to do for years – provide good quality content and information for your audience.
- Engage in natural linking strategies. We’ve already discussed that purchasing links isn’t a healthy web practice, but proper link creation can be a powerful asset to your online presence. We can reference the first bullet point here: if you create compelling, engaging, helpful content, then people will be more willing to link to you as a resource.
- Get social! Let’s bring some classic business practices to life in the modern world and start doing some networking. Get your name out there by communicating with others on social platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Comment on blog posts. As long as you are providing relevant, helpful information you will be viewed as a valid resource and you may find that people start seeking you out.
Last week Google released information about another algorithm change that will have an effect on their search results. Their algorithm is an intricate set of instructions and functions that helps Google determine how certain sites should rank in the SERPs, or search engine results pages. Precisely how the Google algorithms work is highly confidential but every once in a while we’ll catch a glimmer of insight into what Google is looking for from us.
The current algorithm update is focused on the freshness of content on the web – it’s being referred to as the “Freshness Update”. Google wants to gear their search results toward the most relevant AND up to date information available. This is not a new initiative for Google, but simply an improvement to their ongoing efforts. Google reports that the percentage of effected queries has doubled, meaning that 35% of searches will now see fresher results.
So, what does this mean for you?
For those of you who are clients of Astonish Results, you’ve heard over and over again how important and beneficial it is to be involved in blogging and social media. Our nagging is being reinforced by this Google algorithm update. Keeping up with your blogging and social media efforts is the easiest way to continuously send updated content to the web. So log into your onsite blog and make sure you’re giving Google what they want – fresh and exciting content!
Bringing it back to the basics, the search engines are looking to provide searchers with the best experience possible. So whether you are trying to keep up with Google’s algorithm updates or are looking for best practice tips from Bing’s webmaster guidelines, it’s important to make the needs of searchers a priority. If you’re providing searchers with up to date, useful information then you have a solid platform to build off of.
When optimizing your website for the search engines, a good starting point is to work with a basic recipe. You want to optimize your content with good keywords, follow the webmaster guidelines established by the search engines, format your content and links so they can be easily crawled by the search spiders, and implement an integrated strategy including blogging and social media that will help catapult your site toward the top of the search results.
It’s Halloween, so I want to have a little fun today. Some furry friends are going to help me tell the story of a basic SEO strategy. I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I have!
Find and optimize your content with long tail keywords that will help you emphasize your specialized focus.
Your content should be user friendly. You need to avoid the use of ghostly tactics such as hidden text.
You want to be sure your site uses the proper keyword linking strategies so the search spiders will deem your content worth a high ranking in the search engines.
Make sure you read up on and are compliant with webmaster guidelines to avoid being penalized.
Implement an integrated strategy with blogging, social media and linking that will help your keyword strength and web presence bloom.