Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not magic, it is a form of internet marketing. This past year (2013), Google did a great job at ferreting out some of the “magic”. Prior to recent search engine algorithm update6,s some SEO campaigns were successful focusing on loopholes created by algorithm weaknesses and immaturity. These SEO and internet marketing campaigns were not about building brand recognition or goodwill, they were just creating something from nothing. And sometimes you could be successful with these methods using a very small budget and a little time. But what does it take to come out on top of the search engines now?
For those companies who used SEO as a tool in their marketing arsenal, probably you will continue doing what you always have done. But if you took what was the easy road, you have work and investment ahead of you.
Repair your Content
If you have keyword-stuffed content and spammy links pointing at your site, you must eradicate all that. Conduct a keyword analysis to figure out what keywords your target customers are using to find you and your competition. Make a long list of synonyms and phrases related to those keywords. Keep them handy for reference as you write new content. Now page-by-page, rewrite your content without repeating your keyword over and over. Remember that following the Google Hummingbird update, content that satisfies the intent of the internet searcher will rank. If you answer the questions they are asking, they will come!
Write to inform your prospective customers about your product’s merits. Answer questions your current customers have about products and future products (or services). Always when adding a page or post to your website, think about its value, why prospects or customers need it and use that as a guideline for creating content. This is called on-page SEO. There are many fine points to perfecting it but for now, if all you do are these basics, it will put you ahead of the game.
Eliminate the Spam
While Hawaiians will shudder at the idea of eliminating Spam, when it comes to your website, you must constantly guard against it pointing at your domain. If you used automated linking techniques or perhaps have no idea what and SEO you hired did to your backlink portfolio, it is time to visit your Google Webmaster’s account to see what is pointing at your website. Get a Google Webmaster account and complete the following using the account:
- Click “Add Site” to enter your site’s URL. Note it does matter whether or not you use “www.” or not. I recommend setting up site tracking for both!
- Verify ownership of your site using one of the available methods.
- Create an XML sitemap for your website if you don’t have one.
- Submit the XML sitemap on the site you just created in Google Webmasters.
When you complete these steps, Google Webmaster Tools will begin amassing a lot of helpful information about your website including what links to your website.
Give your account a couple of days or more to work, then export the links your site:
- On the Webmaster Tools home page, click the site you want to download links for.
- On the Dashboard menu, click Search Traffic, then click Links to Your Site.
- Under Who links the most, click More.
- Click Download more sample links. Save the .csv file and go back and click Download latest links and save that file as well. There will be some overlap, but to get the largest list of links do both. Google gives you a sampling of links in these exports, not a complete list. So you may want to explore how to use Excel commands to merge data to keep an ongoing list.
Analyze if they are relevant and something you would want your customers reading. If not, work to remove the links. When you cannot remove the offending backlink, complete a disavowal request for those links or entire domains that are problematic. This part of what is called off-page SEO.
Market your Brand
If you have been relying on spammy on-page or off-page SEO techniques, purging your content and link history is a start. But to rank for keywords, you must market your brand. Sure, write great content and definitely select a social media account or two to find meaningful ways to connect with users. Subscribe (free) to Social Media Examiner for great ideas on how to market in social media.
But beyond that, if you are a local business, find ways to connect to your target audience in your community. Host free demos or offer to present at various clubs. Think about what some hardware and garden nursery stores do. They host “how-to” seminars and people get interested and feel comfortable using their products…and they buy them! Even if you are a service, you can do the same. If you are an accountant, visit Rotary clubs, chambers of commerce, or other venues where business people will gather to learn. Then share tips like “how to make yearend easier” or “Intuit Quickbooks vs. Sage Peachtree – which is right for your business”. I have heard it said that you have to give away knowledge and expertise to become an expert so that people will hire or buy from the expert. I find it is true.
SEO and Internet Marketing Success Going Forward
Every business must find ways to really connect with their customers. Provide great products or services, encourage reviews of your business, write great information about the value you provide, be creative, and think of SEO as one tool in your marketing arsenal, not the whole plan. Budget accordingly. The old adage that it takes money to make money is usually right so build a plan, decide how you will determine your return on investment, and continually tweak the plan as your business and customers change. Instead of only focusing on what you can afford, focus on what you cannot afford to lose in terms of market share. Then devise ways to minimize the risk of investing in ways to go after that market share. SEO and internet marketing is only one tool in the toolbox. Dust off the others and get to work!
What are you doing differently after teh 2013 Google algorithm updates? What is working? What is frustrating you?