Do SEO experts get better marketing results?
If you Google the term ‘Is SEO Dead?’ it brings up more than 11 million search results. SEO is behind the scenes in everything we do online. SEO is important. SEO may not be dead, but it’s not the end-all, be-all it used to be.
Optimized search today is a byproduct of doing marketing well on many levels: content, blogging, video, podcasts, social media, PR, traditional marketing, etc. The use of keywords, metadata, alt tags and updated websites are all relevant. But to make SEO exclusively what you do or to focus on it as a standalone marketing plan is like focusing on oxygen instead of breathing.
So, Is SEO Dead?
Not long ago, SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, was what you needed to concentrate on when you put anything online and wanted it to be found, or searchable. You’d determine which words and phrases were being Googled most often by the largest number of readers and stuff your blog, web pages, or column with them in order to be found. Eventually, Google caught on and their search algorithms got smarter — you can’t overstuff your web pages anymore because Google is constantly on the lookout for writers who try to game the system. It has modified its search criteria and now gives more weight to what you write, the connections (links) you make with others online and the frequency with which you post or update web pages.
Paid ads are frequently used to get on the first page of search results, however people have become leery of paid ads. Searchers are more likely to trust a group of friends, peers or individuals they are socially connected to – and for that they go to specific sites like Yelp, Facebook, or LinkedIn. That’s right, search now goes beyond Google (gasp!). People and businesses are conducting specific searches from industry-specific sites or on sites where they trust a like-minded audience. The key for marketers is to figure out where your prospects conduct their searches.
Focus on Content
Instead of trying to write for search engine friendliness, develop content that is appropriate for your audience, content that your audience finds valuable and that educates them. This is the type of content that builds trust and leads to increased authority for you and your brand. Becoming aSubject Matter Expert in your industry increases the likelihood of being found online through search.
Speakers at a conference sponsored by the Public Relations Society of America last week addressed some of Google’s recent changes. One presenter was Jackson Jeyanayagam (@jacksonjey), director of Digital Marketing for Chipotle.
“SEO and all that falls into place if you get the content right,” Jeyanayagam said. “Content is a great story. Tell your story in an authentic way and that’s it, whether you’re a restaurant or a bank.”
For Chipotle, Jeyanayagam said, being authentic means talking about how it sources its food – no artificial ingredients — and how the food is cooked, for example. It also has been a long-time supporter of LGBTQ rights, and created a big splash on its website when the U.S. Supreme Court voted in favor of gay marriage.
In other words, Chipotle and others are finding that your content should convey emotion and engage the reader with the intent of moving them to act. So while SEO is not the only thing to concentrate on, it should be baked in to everything you do.
Here are some best practices:
- Place keywords in the headline of your blog and in any sub-headlines.
- Include keywords in the title of your Web page. If you are a skydiving school, for example, you might want to choose something like “Skydiving 101” or “The Art of Skydiving.”
- Use keywords in headers. If your page has several sections, consider using header tags and include important keywords in them. In our example, headers might include “Skydiving Equipment” or “Skydiving Classes.”
- Most SEO experts recommend that you use important keywords throughout the Web page, particularly at the top, but it’s possible to overuse keywords. Your skydiving site would obviously use “skydiving” as a keyword, but it might also include other keywords like “base jumping” or “parachute.” If you use a keyword too many times, some search engine spiders will flag your page as spam. This keyword stuffing technique is considered “Black Hat.”
If SEO is not dead, maybe it’s just hibernating. Website and page development along with content creation should serve the needs of your prospects and customers. Define your organization’s goals. Ensure that each interaction with customers has a clear path. What action do you want them to take as a result of having seen each page? Solving their problems and providing them with Timely, Relevant and Meaningful (TR&M)content is the best way to ensure search engine optimization and satisfy the needs of both you and your website’s visitors.
What’s working for you in terms of getting found online? Share it below in the Comments section. We’d love to know. A real person reads and responds to all comments!
- Create content that separates them from their competition
- Become subject matter experts in their field
- Measure the effectiveness of their marketing $$
- Generate a consistent pipeline of high-quality leads for less
- Turn clients into evangelists