"Every year, someone [proclaims] the death of SEO, link building is dead, keywords are dead, there’s too much content, the sky is falling!"
That was a quote released this week on how SEO is a constantly evolving industry by Patrick Stox, a technical Search Engine Optimizer, who is currently one of my favorite Twitter users.
As your main focus is to get as many leads-to sales-to established customers as possible, perhaps the old, constantly recycled myth of “SEO is dead and I clearly don’t need it” could even look a little promising to you since it’s one last thing to spend your marketing budget on.
But it’s a myth, and a dangerous one at that. In the case of future SEO (think by the end of 2016), the idea that it simply “doesn’t matter anymore” will get more and more embarrassing to admit, and could even shutter new and small businesses.
As Meghan Keaney Anderson of HubSpot recently wrote, “While the future is uncertain, one thing is clear: the world of search is not ending, it's expanding.”
I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials where sleepy professionals ask Amazon’s Echo, humanly nicknamed “Alexa”, what the news is for the morning so they can start their day in the know. (Side note: Alexa, the cloud-based voice system that answers your queries and turns on your music, tv, lights, and even find your iPhone, is available at Amazon right now for $180. That’s less than your cable bill, most likely.) Or maybe you’ve even asked your car to get you the fastest route home as you try to beat blizzard traffic. The likelihood that you get daily information like many tutorials, humorous recaps of current events, and summaries of a debate that just ended through internet video is the highest it’s ever been.
How do you track that? If you aren’t familiar with basic SEO practice and can’t quickly answer questions such as, “What top five keywords do your customers find you with?”, “Which social platforms out- and under-perform for your company?”, “Which blog posts have gotten you the most visibility and how do you plan on building off that knowledge?”, then unfortunately you are at risk at getting left behind your competitor.
The emergence of smarter search where you don’t have to physically type something into a search engine to find answers, is happening right now. And getting left behind with a black and white tv when the world is adapting 3D might be fine for personal life. But not for your business that needs customers to thrive.
This three part series will keep you in-the-know of why SEO is still just as important as a year ago and even more strategic. Keep watching for parts II and III.
SEO Myths We Are Going to Bust
Yeah, I get that it’s all about keywords.
Search Engine Optimization is a fickle thing. One day it’s “grab all the keywords you can and attack!” and then the next you hear, “forget the keywords we just need links, all of the links, nothing but backlinks and other link-things.”
I’m going to try to make this as clear as possible right off the bat so you don’t feel overwhelmed by overthinking SEO strategy. The point of SEO is to have search engines direct users to the most relevant content or business they are searching for. That’s it. Forget the tricks, the greatest power of your SEO is to be a naturally awesome company with amazing things to offer.
If you only had keywords (or words people use to search for what they need) on your site, what would you offer? Why would you stick out?
Think of it like searching for your ideal partner. You have tastes that you prefer that you might look for on paper -- tall, short, thin, athletic, blonde, funny, lives in Chicago, makes $x a year, loves wrestling, etc. But is that it? Unless you’re going for a mail order bride, probably not.
Search engines look for keywords across your content, in the names of your pages, in the words you use for links, but what’s behind it is even more important – the quality of the website. How long have you been in the game? How do your past customers like you, and have they shared it of their own volition? Are you going to be hard to find or do you let people know exactly where you are when they need you?
SEO means a ton of text which means my site won’t look pretty, cool, advanced, or chic.
The only reason this might worry you is if you saw a really PRETTY website with little-to-no text. You either knew about it already and want to use it as an example for how your own site should look, or it popped up near the top of Google results in one of your searches and you thought, “there’s no text on here, why is it so high up in results?”
Firstly, there are plenty of “pretty” sites out there with minimal visibility when it comes to search engines. Their homepage might feature beautiful, large, hi-res pictures that entice you. Maybe some minimal, refined text that seduces you into wanting to learn more about their company.
Unfortunately those high quality, massive photos might be slowing down load time which is a HUGE no-no. It’s recoverable by compressing the photo sizes and uploading them that way, but you have to know that.
Simplified text like “Whether you're looking to taste Rosé in a hidden vineyard or to summit an active volcano, indulge your passions.” has an alluring appeal that brings your users to question “HOW”. But that sentence won’t let Google know what you do, so how does Google tell your potential customers about you?
Pretty sites can shoot to the top of Google, Bing, and Yahoo search rankings with time, optimization, understanding the power of easy navigation, with established “street cred” from past customers, and more.
It’s not all about text and quantity, it’s about optimizing and quality. Which is a beautiful partnership.