SEO has changed. Irretrievably.
It's no longer about keywords, rankings or even back-links. Those days are long gone.
Here's what you need to know:
There are 3 key pillars to being found.
- SEO - which includes the foundational aspects of having a good site structure as well as the technical aspects of understanding meta data, keywords and schema data.
- Content - providing written and visual content that adds value and is visually engaging (even enticing)
- Social - a way of syndicating out content and amplifying it to attract back-links naturally (as opposed to artificially)
These 3 pillars are a triage that helps bring lifeblood to your website and your business. Together they work as a system to increase your visibility, build your brand and grow your customer base and profit.
As anyone who has ever been burnt by a manual penalty from Google would know, relying on backlinks alone is foolhardy. It can take a long time to recover and some websites never recover (depending on the type of penalty).
It's a high risk game.
Credit companies know it - in fact they restrict credit for SEO companies because they know there is a high risk that the SEO provider may need to provide refunds to their customers. So SEO companies mitigate this risk by providing meaningless guarantees and watertight contracts for things they can't control.
The fact is, SEO is risky business - for you, the bank and also some SEO providers.
Google are simply becoming increasingly good at detecting bad links. Period. If you want to have a restful nights sleep, then don't put your business at risk. Would you give your bank account details to a robber?
Doing things the right way means you get to sleep well at night.
Get your foundations right before you build your next website. SEO can help with site structure and ensuring your website has a good chance of being found it if has the right foundations.
You then need high quality content that appeals to your target market. The content has to be great, well written, and well researched. It could even provide unusual or industry specific insights and visually appealing images.
Once you have great content - you need to share it. Syndicating it on appropriate social media networks that are relevant to your target markets can be effective for this.
Cynical? Not convinced about social?
I know it can be hard to see the link between social media and SEO.
You may have tried social media with limited success.
Google has also publicly stated that Twitter shares and Facebook likes are not part of their ranking algorithm (Google+ is another matter).
This may be true but that is not the point of social media. The point of social media is to make your content discoverable and build relationships with your customers.
Your content needs to be great to be discoverable. Ideally it needs to generate shares, likes, comments so people can get to know you and trust that they wont have a negative experience if they buy from you.
Once discoverable, you put strategies in place within your sales funnel to generate sales, leads, engagement - whatever your goal.
Underpinning it all is a strategy.
Thought, planning and time need to go into the process. Sadly most of us lack the time to put enough thought and planning into a process to make it effective.
Often, business owners think that they will write the content, share it on social media and do everything themselves.
Doing it yourself is a recipe for failure.
Too often they start with the best intentions but lack the follow through or knowledge to do this well. I've seen a lot of businesses try this and fail.
Doing this well requires a team with the following skills:
- Copywriting (good headlines are a must)
- Graphic design
- A deep understanding of each of the social channels and how to make them work for you
- Keyword research
- Website optimisation
- Data analysis
- Project Management (helps consistency)
If you think you can do all this, then I salute you.
Most businesses will find this difficult and if so, they should consider outsourcing it.