As change sweeps through the search engine optimisation space, perhaps it's good to take a look at what the altered criteria mean to us, as digital marketers who want to optimise our websites. First a little background information- let's define SEO.
Bruce Clay has long been considered the man who first coined the phrase 'search engine optimisation' which then became SEO. Webmasters- propellorheads and marketers, soon began to notice patterns which produced higher rankings for web pages, competing for a place within search results. Thus began SEO as we knew it back then.
Search engine optimisation or SEO refers to the process of applying emphasis and enhancements to elements within a web page in order to get that page returned prominently in search results for desired queries.
Comparing Organic Results Pages- Same Query, 5 Years Apart
In the early days, SEO was all about 10 blue links- those sought after spots on the first page of results for whatever query the user typed in. How users searched back then- is different to how they search now.
In the image example shown next, you can see that the results page from back in 2012 has 10 blue links after a search for 'tasmanian whisky'.
As you can see- there's not much more there, than the coveted 10 blue links.
Fast forward to June 2017, and there's lots more going on.
This next screenshot is a monster of a file. It has lots more happening too. There are breakouts with arrows, showing you the major differences that business owners, SEO people, web developers and marketers should be aware of.
Within the local listings, you'll also see starred ratings, which give an indication of the integrity of the business from customers. Searchers can select a business listing to click, based on a number of factors. Some of these would be location, name, reviews and the appeal of the listing itself- images, information and how the business is perceived by the visitor.
Improving Web Pages, Meeting Criteria and More Enhancements
So where does this leave you as a marketer? What should you be optimising your pages for, in order to draw more organic traffic?
Let's look at what you need to do, in order to stay ahead of the competition.
Keywords in the Current SEO Climate
Make no mistake- one of the primary ways search engines gather information about the real meaning of a page, is through analyzing the written word. Always make your page relevant to the topic- and phrases- you want to rank for. Be judicious with your selection and use of ideal words and phrases.
As artificial intelligence grows, search engines strive to understand user intent. The meaning of the page- not just the keywords- count for more than ever before. We believe this will only intensify in time.
Images, Video and Audio
Digital asset diversity contributes to positive rank. There are right and wrong ways to manage this area of content. Don't steal images from other websites- and only use stock photos as a last resort. The reason for that is that Google rewards authenticity and uniqueness. With phone cameras, it's easy to take photos on a moment's notice and create web-worthy video, which can be edited on your mobile, tablet or laptop, before uploading to your website. Host some of your videos on your own server- so that the ownership of the asset is attributed to your domain. Make another, similar video to use on platforms like YouTube and Vimeo.
The same advice applies to podcasts.
Record all sound tracks so that a transcript reads well. Use proper grammar. Speak clearly. Avoid slang, repetitive use of keywords and terms which would require guesswork to understand.
Validate Your Business with Google
This is as essential as being online. By defining the entity that is your business, you validate that your business is real. It's as simple as heading to Google's business page and following the prompts. Before you do- have some media ready for upload- photos and video work well.
Encourage Feedback from Customers
A good business will have happy customers, and these people will gladly become ambassadors for you. You should mention to your customers that their feedback would be appreciated. Don't ever buy reviews, or provide incentive for positive feedback. It needs to happen organically- and regularly.
Interact with the Community- Be Seen as an Expert Who is Available
Social media- the resource hungry place down the digital street- demands a completely different approach to traditional marketing. Most businesses get it wrong- by pushing a sales message or 'deal' with every post.
Instead- we recommend you use social media posts to build the expertise of your brand and encourage users to visit your website. Within your own domain- you make the rules- you decide how the pictures are cropped, how the page is laid out- and how much content you show, without word limits or restrictions.
An Ongoing Plan- Moving Forward with Your SEO
If you haven't had the results you expect- there could be problems from the past or technical errors within your website which prevent Google from crawling it thoroughly or indexing it favourably.
Consider making the move to learn search engine optimisation at one of our courses or workshops. This topic- optimising web pages and websites using current best SEO practices - is covered in detail.
Are you comfortable doing your own SEO? We recommend you set aside a minimum of an hour of quality uninterrupted time per day, 5 days per week to work on your website and digital marketing. If you're in a competitive market, then double the time to really create an impact.
You should be tweaking for customer acquisition by presenting useful information, devoid of sales and deals- and establishing the authority and expertise of your website. The best SEO you can do, is to deliver the right information to people who seek to learn more about what your business offers.