Posts Tagged 'seo'

The Best SEO Advice I’ve Seen in a Long Time…Relevance is the new PR

This morning’s thought: “I now need to go back and look at all my recent SEO work.”

I like the competition of search. Every day is different and you have the ability and or the chance to “win” so to speak.  It’ similar to watching the standings in Major League Baseball. Some days you may gain on the competition, other days you lose ground, and still others, nothing changes.

That’s the nature of competing against Google and it’s algorithm changes.  It’s cat and mouse. The pursuer and the pursued.  That’s why any article or blog post that talks about Google and search engine optimization has to be paid attention to. Sometimes, and I mean sometimes, there can be nuggets or threads of truth that can help you get a leg up on two targets  that are constantly moving in the digital space.  The customer and Google search.

How fun and frustrating can it get? Well, to the extent that after reading a post from Search Engine Land that Google would neither affirm no refute titled Ex-Googler: “To Please Google With Your SEO, Forget About SEO”, I started this post with that opening thought.

It’s OK, it happens all the time and actually as an “SEO’er” you should of kind of always be thinking that way anway-How can you improve organic search rankings?  When you’re done reading the Search Engine Land post, go over to Forbes and read a pretty good article as well on SEO titled, The 6 Basic Components Of A Strong SEO Strategy For Online Retailers.  It ties and supports the other post better and as recent as I’ve seen in quite a while in regards to what you need to think about when it comes to SEO.

It’s all good though. All of it keeps you on your toes. With that said, go read both posts in their entirety.  Below are some of the soundbites  that got me thinking.

At this stage a webmaster is out of his mind to still rely on techniques that were common practice 8 months ago.”

…don’t dismiss directories completely.

and the best one of all…

Relevance is the new PR.”

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The Conundrum of Content-What is your Content Strategy?

I’ve been somewhat neglecting the blog over the last few months but I have a good excuse er… reason.  Others are getting my good content.  Or maybe I should just say they are getting my content, whether it’s good or not, well that’s in the eyes of the reader now isn’t it?

Being a content producer is brutal, it’s hard and it never ends.  And yea,  it sometimes it sucks.  Why?  Because content, in and of itself, is constantly being redefined and producing it is constantly a challenge.   Content for the consumer, is like Crack, the more one gets, the more one wants.  Good content keeps raising the bar for all content producers.  Why?  Because we all have to strive and push out something that will a) trump what was pushed out before, b) be consumed on a large scale and c) in a sense, hopefully will go viral.  Let’s use an Olympic analogy.  Once you score a 10, you’re expected to score another one.  When you don’t, we maybe wait and see if you can repeat and when you don’t, we maybe ask why and then, we look elsewhere.

The flip side? Like Crack, a users expectations are raised.  The tolerance levels rise. The need for more and better increase.  No longer is average content acceptable.  What make’s this further frustrating is that, as the producer of content, you no longer can control the quality.  It’s no longer up to you. You might think it’s good, but it’s really not up to you.  It’s up to them.

Thus,  just like the old adage or statement that “we’re going to create a viral video” is equal parts foolish and unattainable, thinking your next piece of content is going to rock them, well, it’s out of your control.

At the end of every business day on the web, the bottom line is that content churns the machine.  It’s what keeps companies and organizations in the public eye.  Sometimes though,  the content that keeps you in the public eye, isn’t produced by you, and isn’t necessarily how you wanted to be in the public eye.  That’s the dark side. Content is everyone’s friend and everyone’s enemy.  Why? Because  good content isn’t always about the positive.  Content, the good stuff, the reason why we fire up the computer every day, can be all about the bad stuff.

And…content is not abating, it’s not subsiding, and  it’s not morphing into something we can control, not even close and not any time soon. It’s not like there’s this rhythmic beat to the content that’s created and the content that is consumed.  Why? Pretty soon, (in  less than five years) everyone will have a smart phone AND a tablet device.  The desktop as we know it, will be dead soon.  Which means what?

Multiply the ability to consume what is created times two or maybe three.  As device proliferation increases, so does demand for sites, apps, content curators and content creators.  Like rabbits and mice, demand and creation will explode exponentially.

So I’m telling you right now, creating, collecting and curating content is damn hard. Additionally, just because you have resources and access to Google or Bing or Yahoo or whatever, it doesn’t mean that you know what will work for your company or a company when it comes to compelling content that will drive eyeballs and sales.  You can test, but at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, if you sell soap for example-What content are you going to create that is going to increase the sales of soap?

Here are a few questions you need to ask:

  1. Can the intern help you with good content?  Initially, probably not.  But if you can nurture them into the position of “content beast,” that would be great but it takes time.  This of course would mean that you understand what works and what doesn’t.
  2. Can’t we just automate the process? So that means you’re just going to pull in everyone’s RSS feeds? Or does that mean you’re just going to scrape good content from others? Either choice is not a good one.  Though I’m a proponent of supplementing one’s own content with perhaps a national feed, it’s not a good idea to push the content of others.  Why? Well, where’s the value? Where’s the reason to come back every day?
  3. How well do you know what your customers want? Why? It takes knowledge and an understanding of your customers, what your customers search for and why exactly, are they your customers in the first place.  Once you conquer that, then you start to understand the difference between search and intent.
  4. Does it matter if your brick and mortar customers are online? It certainly helps.  Remember, that the first entry point for most people is not through the browser bar but generally through search and invariably through Google-which then heightens three things: one, is the quality of your content, two is the quality of your SEO and three is  your “socialness.”  Invariably though, your customers may start online before they walk in the door.
  5. Does it matter that your customers are social? It helps but what do you think?  If your customers are social that might mean they are digitally savvy and digitally demanding.  Don’t deliver and suffer the consequences.
  6. What will it take to create and curate compelling content? In a nutshell, you have to test what works and what doesn’t.  This is where a solid analytics package comes into play.  You have to know what drives traffic and what get’s clicked on and what doesn’t.
  7. Can we outsource it?  You can but you risk putting what you’ve known and what you’ve built into someone’s hands who doesn’t really know you, your product or your customers.  You may get lucky and find someone who plays in the same space but it takes some vetting to find that company or person.

So what’t the over-arching theme or point here?  As we hurdle towards 2013 and beyond, the proliferation of devices and platforms means that consumers are going to continue to demand content that “fits” them.  As well, that content not only needs to fit their niches and demands but it also needs to be accessed at anytime and anywhere. If it doesn’t, they are gone.  Which means, if you’re not delivering the optimum digital experience, then you lose.  It will start and end with the content you create and curate every day and every night.  If you don’t get it right, chances are that your competition will.

How Do We Get Duped By SEO [Infographic]

It all starts with a title. The better the title, the stickier the title, the more likely you’ll suck us in.

The Problem with Blending Organic Results with Social Information

Hey Google, you know me, but do you really know me? I know, I know, you have all that customer data and you’ve just changed, refined your privacy policy so I know you really know me but… we’ve known each other for at least 10 years and we’ve grown on each other but…I have a beef.

Just because I have people in my Google Plus Circles doesn’t mean that what they “might know” or talk about is necessarily the  search result information that I was looking for or need. That’s great that you now make it come up above the fold, but that doesn’t always mean it’s going to benefit me. What it really means to me is that I now have to scroll through a bunch of stuff that may not matter in order to  to get to a hopefully organic result.

Part of the attraction of Google has always been its simplistic interface tied into an algorithm that really understood that what we were looking for was the best, most relevant search result. Now what we get is a search result tied into a) Google’s latest foray into social and b) someone’s  Google + social affiliation to me. This means that if I’m looking for information about violins. I may have to sift through a search result that incorporate’s my Circle’s random observations, musings, photos and videos of violins, when what I was looking for was where I could buy one in my city that was inexpensive and durable.

Google isn’t enhancing the search process with tying it into Google Plus, it’s assuming that it knows me and my circles and what is best for me when I search. You don’t want that, what you really want is this…

What we may have to start doing is redefining what a Google organic search result is. Sometimes, actually more times than not, I need and you do too, a search result that isn’t or hasn’t been influenced by nothing more than pure relevance to the topic at hand. It may not happen today or even next year or the year after that, but at some point, someone will build a better, cleaner search engine that will be what Google was when Google first launched.

Business Myopia-The Need To Realign Hope And Reality With Your Social Business

A lot of companies are going to transition to becoming a social business and fail horribly at it. It’s not entirely their fault. You might be sitting there and asking why not. Look no further than their website. It starts there. Here’s a real world example. 3 days ago I was on the phone with a prospective client, before I got on the phone I did a little research. First I wanted to look at their source code. I wanted to see what they thought of themselves. Regardless of who built the site, the meta tags that lie underneath can tell you a lot about what a company thinks they are, of how they view themselves.

I know, in the grand scheme of things meta tags don’t matter, but ahhhh, they do. It let’s people like me get a quick understanding of whether a client or company gets the rudimentary element of knowing who they are and how they want to be perceived online. you know why? Metas matter but not in the sense that we were all told or taught years ago. Metas matter because they drive the creation of content, the creation of bios, and the creation of hyperlinks from Tumblr and Twitter to YouTube and Pinterest. Metas are your descriptors of you and your company.

If you can’t tell me who you are with hyperlinks, geo specific hyperlinks,160 characters in a Twitter bio,25 characters for an adwords title, and or 70 characters for ad text, then how are you going to do it for your customers? The point being that search will continue to love social but before you even get to the point of cranking valuable content about you and your business. You have to have your act together structurally, internally and digitally.

Go look at all of your digital touch points and see if they pass the smell test. Are you painting the right picture of how search views all of your current content. Understand that part of being a social business is that, regardless of whatever social channel your choose-the digital content that you will create, has to align perfectly with what you do offline and what you currently have online.

When customers or prospects do a search, the results that they get back tell more of a story about you and your business then you may be aware of, and sadly the results may contain content that you had no control of. By the time you see it, or become aware of it-it’s too late, it’s been indexed and it’s virtually impervious to reputation management fixes.

Don’t wait for that to happen, go check your digital house and see if it’s in order. Align reality with perception and make sure that as a social business you understand that you are now searchable and accountable for content everywhere, starting with something as simple as your source code. Metas might not matter in search, but in reality, they can tell us what you think your business is.

The Dawn of Social Mediocrity

Let’s do a hypothetical. You like western saddles.  You search for them every day on Google. Google gives you relevant results from a) your Google Plus peeps and then b) the most relevant, most SEO’d results. Let’s assume that your peeps straddle the lines of friends, family and business contacts, so the results or likelihood that there will be content from these people about western saddles may be 50/50.

You continue to search for info about saddles. I am a marketer that sells cowboy hats or western hats. I know that if I use the term “western saddles” as a key word, page title, hyper link, hashtag, splog site or blog post in some social networks or platforms, the  likelihood of you finding or landing on my pages might be pretty high. Why? Every link that you will find will ultimately take you to my western hat pages. I may or may not have much on saddles, but the bottm line is that I sell hats not saddles. Will you buy from my site? Maybe not. Of course I will or may affiliate links on my pages that will get you to a site that sells saddles but…the “quick” search has now turned into an hour’s worth of chasing the long tail of a bullshit game of bait and switch.

Is that a good user experience? No, but it’s the reality of search and social.

The more content that is created, the more that you have to choose from. The more that you have to choose from, the more of a chance that the content is watered down and possibly gamed. The more that search and social become intertwined, the more that you may become the victim of a bait and switch. Clicking on a link in the hopes that it is the right link-has become more precarious these days than it ever has.

The more that search and social lines become further blurred by the notion that content drives the machine, the more the user will get played. Pretty soon it won’t be social media any longer, it will be social mediocrity.

Does Good Content Matter Anymore?

We’re content starved. The emergence of tablets and mobile devices has only enhanced our desire to consume digital content. There’s a problem though. When content producers cannot meet the demands of a ravenous public, things can get ugly and the public walks-digitally speaking.

Actually, things already are ugly. Specifically, the dearth of original compelling content in the digital space has caused us to consume subpar content wrapped around good SEO. Don’t you just hate when you click on a compelling search result only to be met with 100 words of link laden dreck? That’s been the case for quite some time now, and only recently has it become clearly evident that what seems to work for most producers of content when they don’t have anything to “share” with others, is to just steal, plagiarize or reproduce someone else’s stuff; and wrap that around good SEO.

Good content is getting lost in the firehose of bad content

But there is a simple reason why they (marketers in general) have this burning desire to push out as much digital content as they can-whether it’s theirs or not. There’s an ulterior motive happening here.  These folks are trying to appease the almighty search engines. Specifically Google, but Bing and Yahoo and all the other 2nd tier engines  figure in as well. Organic search in a nutshell.

Most producers of content are in the business of driving traffic. Traffic equates to advertising which equates to dollars.  You can buy traffic, but short of spending in the 6 figures to create artificial traffic, the only real way you’re going to get organic visits to your sites is to write content and share content that has all of the “right” SEO properties so as to come up high in search. Screw the readers. Forget good content, the goal now is “searchable”, SEO friendly content.

Content producers are unknowingly deferring to search engines instead of people

Does this mean that there are still sites out there pushing fresh, relevant, content that is meant for people to consume, view and share? Perhaps, but it’s a short list. You can look to CNN, USAToday, The New York Times, Techcrunch, Mashable, and MSNBC for examples of purveyors of quality content except that they can be just as guilty of the keyword laden salacious topic and title that is sure to drive readers, shares, comments and traffic.

As the tablet and smart phone markets continue to expand, so will the amount of water downed re-used content. Thus, we need to get back to a time when content mattered, when good content mattered. I’m not so sure we can as long as we’re still trying to figure out who we’re supposed to be creating content for. Is it people or search engines?


The Deets

Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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