SEO is one of those oft-misunderstood marketing activities. Content marketing’s less sexy friend, reliant on algorithms and ever-shifting keyword research.
Sure, Google is essentially pulling the strings when it comes to the state of SEO today. Their algorithm, managing over 60% of all online searches, has directed the course of SEO practices over the past years.
Updates and changes to the algorithm can turn theory on SEO on its head, and means agencies and in-house marketers must constantly strive to be on top of what Google is up to.
But SEO is a far broader and more interesting subject than it often gets credit for, and learning how to maximize it can see incredible rewards.
The very fact that ‘to google’ is a neologism may leave Google’s lawyers exasperated, but shows how undeniably important the search engine has become in everyday life.
Need to find a quick fact for a research paper? Google it. Want to find out cinema times? Google it. Need stats about Google? Google it.
As of the end of 2015, there were 1.17bn Google searches being made a month.
Of those 1.17bn, a huge proportion will be consumers researching before deciding to make the plunge and purchase a product – over 80% of consumers will turn to the web for advice.
Ranking highly on search engines, and appearing on the hallowed first page, is ever-more important. And as algorithms become more advanced, more clever, so must your SEO strategy.
The aggressive, black-hat spammy tactics employed by some agencies and marketers in past years has all but died a death.
Trying to trick Google is essentially trying to trick the top brains in technology. It’s not going to happen.
Dodgy link-building practices will result in penalization, and continuing to use black-hat tactics today will see your web-page index itself straight into the trash.
It’s short-sighted. Businesses now have to seek innovative ways to provide genuine value to their audience. As Stef Bull, Agency Group Manager at Brandwatch, says in the SEO and Content Strategy Guide:
“Considering Google as a human interpreter rather than an algorithm, marketers should ask how they can activate Google and their readers to support their content, whether that’s through backlinks, social shares, engagement or other promotion.
To do so, businesses will need to better learn and understand audiences…Social media, rich with naturally occurring opinions and feedback, proves to be a surprisingly effective resource for identifying how people communicate, spreading awareness around content and evaluating content’s performance.
In the long run, these strategies will ensure a strong backlog of content and a high search engine rank that survives the constant onslaught of Google updates.”
Of course, this is easier said than done and is a harder route to success than previous shady methods, but is a far richer and more rewarding strategy.
After all, we are always told that content is king.
Focusing on quality content that is relevant to your audience is the key takeaway here.
So, rather than keyword-stacking, or pulling a bait-and-switch (getting a web page indexed and ranked and then changing the page entirely), a successful, forward-thinking SEO strategy will now encompass:
Social listening tools can provide the intelligence to underpin all of the above activities – identifying your target audience, creating the content they want to consume, amplifying your content, acquiring and building links on the sites that your audience read.
For example, while creating excellent content is central to a successful SEO strategy, that content is useless unless it attracts readers. Of course, there is a catch-22, as a high Google ranking is key to attracting readers.
One effective way of breaking into new audiences is through influencer outreach.
Social intelligence reveals not only what is resonating with an audience but also who is leading the conversation and generating that interest – allowing you to build a strategy to connect with, and make use of them.
Regardless of your business sector or the size of your organization, good SEO practice is vital to improving your reach and visibility.
Social signals, and the increased promotion available through these channels can give your SEO a vital boost, and content research can uncover new avenues that resonate with your audience.
To discover exactly how to do all of this, and much more, download the free SEO and Content Guide.