Getting Started in 2013:
Is SEO The Right Marketing Choice?
From small businesses to enterprises. Mom blogger to power blogger. Almost everyone who owns a website has heard of SEO and the benefits it can bring to your website. If you haven’t that’s okay, search engine optimization (SEO) is a form of online marketing that uses the search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo to bring traffic to your site. Google reports over 1 Billion search queries a month alone! Let’s put that into a daily perspective 1,000,000,000 a month results in 33,000,000 (rounded) searches a day! With that many searches from a single search engine, you can be assured your target audience is searching for your services, products and information.
Clearly SEO is a powerful marketing tool, but is it the right path if you are just getting started with internet marketing?
Let’s take a brief look at SEO and in particular the methods used for improving your rankings. As of 2013 Google is the biggest and most used search engine, and because of that Google will be our primary focus. One of the biggest aspects we have to remember about Google is that Google is a business. One of their services is providing visitors with information (Google Search). If searchers didn’t finding the information they were looking for, do you think they would continue to use Google? Probably not.
BRIEF HISTORY ON SEO
Up To Late 2010′ish -
Prior to the major Panda algorithm update (we will cover in a moment) increasing your rankings was primarily focused on building backlinks. In short backlinks are links from another website that act like popularity votes. Example: If webdigia.com was to link to Google.com, that would count as a backlink from Webdigia to Google. The more backlinks generally meant a higher ranking. Though this tactic was often abused using backlink bots, as their main focus was to build as many links as possible using spammy or black-hat tactics.
Panda Algorithm Released (February 2011) -
Google’s Panda algorithm is a machine learning algorithm used to weed out the spammy low quality sites and improve the ranking of quality websites. Google’s vision became quite clear with the Panda update. Websites filled with original, vertical related (industry) topics provided a higher quality user experience for visitors. This was Google’s major step towards a content focused algorithm and ranking system.
Typical backlink bots that produced low quality links were no longer as effective as they used to be. Just building links was no longer the main focus in SEO services, instead focus shifted towards unique content writing and outreach.
Penguin Algorithm Released (April 2012) -
Google Penguin was the next step towards weeding out the spam. Penguin was an algorithm developed to decrease the rankings of websites breaking Google’s webmaster guidelines. The guidelines cover spam and Black-hat SEO (bots, keyword stuffing, cloaking, link schemes, link farms, etc.) which were used by most to quickly increase their rankings. Penguin had a lot of hidden features to it, one of the biggest was to weed out websites that were over optimized. It became quite clear which websites were using SEO by looking at the anchor text in their backlinks. Over optimization of anchor text with exact match keywords now implemented a negative effect on your rankings if it was being abused. Anchor text is the text used for hyperlinks that you can click on.
Panda and Penguin wreaked havoc on services offered by SEO companies who were using quick shortcut methods; the typical link building services were no longer as effective as they used to be and sometimes hurt their clients websites. The do-it-yourself people also found they were in a world of hurt when they realized they hadn’t put enough focus on their websites content and that they built too many optimized links. A lot of people saw a huge drop in their rankings as well as their income overnight and some disappeared forever.
Future of SEO
The emphasis on quality content has generated buzz on whats being referred to as “Author Rank.” Just as it sounds, Author Rank would essentially put a value on the author of an article. Author Rank hasn’t been confirmed by Google, but looking at the path Google seems to be taking with Google Plus and their algorithms it would make sense, that future authors of an article will have an effect on the value of that same article.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?
SEO today is not easy, and actually many may try and argue that it doesn’t exist anymore. Instead you should think of SEO as content marketing and creating usability. Create quality content that your vertical (industry) needs or wants, and you will find that your traffic will increase and so will your natural and diverse backlinks. By focusing on your websites quality, you are increasing the value of your site to the search engines. This will lead to higher rankings for your focus keywords and for those “ready to buy” long tail keywords.
SEO Services -
Content marketing has increased the workload required and thus has increased the price of SEO services. In regards to our own services, we have applied a large emphasis on building up our clients websites before we focus on link building. This perspective swap does result in a slow ranking period, but the traffic audience has proved to be much more profitable and rankings are reliable and withstand Google’s algorithm updates. Slow and steady always wins the SEO race for the long-term and stable rankings.
Assuring a successful and reliable SEO campaign today comes from focusing on building quality content. If you are looking to hire an SEO company, make sure you inquire about their SEO tactics. The last thing you want to do is pay for a spammy link building service that is doing your site no good.
The beauty of the internet is that there are a plethora of marketing options, SEO is a very small area of the marketing world online.
PPC Marketing -
PPC or Pay-Per-Click is an excellent way to get started with internet marketing and can be great for keyword discovery as well. With PPC marketing you target specific keywords and pay once you receive a click or set number of views. For start-ups or new websites we usually suggest a synergy between PPC and SEO. PPC will provide the instant targeted traffic and content marketing SEO will provide the long tail organic traffic.
Social Ads -
Social platforms like Facebook have an advertising platform that you can use to place ads on Facebook.com. Social media offers a powerful source of traffic with their “interest” based targeting system. With social media you can target people based on their interests, geographic location, age, sex and more.
Media Buying -
Media buying is a broad term and tends to be confusing to most. Media buying could be summarized with “buying X from a websites who’s traffic is also your target audience.” Media buying can come in many different forms, from renting banner space to buying a mention in their next blog post. Media buying usually doesn’t have a platform like Facebook ads or Google Adwords, instead try reaching out to the website via email and asking if they offer advertising.
TOO LONG DIDN’T READ (tl:td)
SEO is a powerful source for target traffic online. Though a lot has changed in the SEO world and these changes have resulted in more content focus. Think of SEO as content marketing: creating quality, unique content that your audience wants or needs and remaining active. The downfall of content marketing is the amount of work and time it takes for your rankings to improve. SEO is still a great marketing method online, but be ready for a slow and steady type of strategy. If you are a start up or just launched your website (and are looking for immediate results) you may want to look into a mix of methods, such as PPC (instant traffic from targeted Keywords) and SEO (organic traffic from long tail keywords).
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