At this point, the term SEO (Search Engine Optimization) should not be new to any marketer that still has a job in 2013. What that term means to marketers may vary, but most understand that it needs to be addressed in order for a company to be found on the web. But, with exception to the technically savvy, this is about the extent of the definition.
An executive emphatically stating: “We need to focus on our site’s SEO,” is as vague as when my parents would tell me that a chore “builds character”.
While it’s unfair to expect marketing executives to be experts in search optimization, it’s critical that they understand the basics. Talking to someone about a site’s meta-tags is akin to talking to a teenager about NSYNC … it was relevant years ago, but that time has passed. Case in point, Matt Cutts, the Godfather of Google, has repeatedly said that Google no longer looks at the keywords tag.
Secondly, what you do on a page is only a fraction of what goes into your rankings. The majority of the authority that gets your site to rank well comes from the number and quality of inbound links. In short, the more sites that link to yours, the better you’ll rank. But, don’t take that statement and try to buy those links (just ask JC Penny how well that worked for them). It’s likely that Google has more PhD geniuses working on how to make search better than you have in your entire organization – don’t try to outsmart Google.
So, if inbound links are so important and you can’t buy them, where do they come from? Easy – they come from other people finding your content interesting enough to reference on their own sites and blogs. In order to generate interest, don’t use your website simply for brochure listings of your products and service. Try to highlight your expertise and “special sauce”. The easiest way to do this is through a blog.
Yes, a blog. Just like the one you’re reading now.
Too many executives are afraid of blogs, but they are as critical to marketing as your listing in the phone book. (Scratch that, I would argue a company blog is actually far more important … when is the last time you used a phone book?)
A blog is the best way to educate your customers, showcase why you’re better, and attract eyeballs to your site. Update it often, don’t make every post a sales-pitch, and focus on giving your prospects a reason to visit your site. If you post interesting content, it will be shared, and those shares will help improve your rank. This is not a one-time event, either. Publishing engaging content needs to be an ongoing activity, like going to the gym.
Aside from starting a blog to get your company’s site to rank better, the whole purpose of SEO needs to be reevaluated. Stop worrying about “getting your site to rank,” and instead focus on “total first page domination.” Social media gives your company the opportunity to have multiple channels to promote content, and because they are on different sites, each outlet can rank on a search. If your site currently doesn’t have a blog, it’s critical that you find a tool that makes it easy for your team to manage your content.
While it’s great to get your site to rank on the first page, that’s only one out of nine results on the page. The rest of the results could easily be the dreaded competition. To combat this, diversify by spreading the love: create a LinkedIn page, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and post to YouTube. By publishing to these different forums, it’s completely possible your brand name is showing up between five and six times on a search term. And this way it doesn’t matter if your site ranks first or fourth, because the video you created is second while the guest article you wrote for an industry blog is fifth. Remember, exposure is the end game.
To surmise, stop thinking about SEO like it’s the year 2000 and Google just became main stream. In 2013 it’s imperative to focus on ways to take advantage of every applicable search tactic that helps your prospective customers find you.