SEO Is Dead, And So Is Your Search Engine Strategy

SEO for 2014

Just kidding. Actually, this was supposed to be “Top 7 Digital Marketing Trends for Manufacturers in 2014”, but as it turns out, not much has changed since writing about them last year. Instead, I’ve decided to tackle SEO some more. Recent changes such as Hummingbird, have many concerned that SEO is either dead or has morphed significantly, so here’s my take:

Simply put – the assertion that SEO is a thing of the past is ridiculous. As a matter of fact, the core principles haven’t changed despite what you’ve read on the Internet. Truth is – search engines such as Google have focused on quality website content since their inception. While content marketing is all the rage lately, the idea of content as being the key to success is ancient. However, it is now more important than ever to make sure your content is useful, well organized and clearly labeled. This is critical from many perspectives including search results, conversion and reporting.

So, Will SEO Be Different at All This Year?

I’m glad you asked. From my perspective, SEO won’t be radically different simply since the core principles haven’t changed. There are a few things to consider. For instance, it will get harder to measure results and adjust strategy though. Thanks to recent Google reporting changes, it is much more difficult to pinpoint user behavior. This forces marketers to better organize their content in granular buckets, and monitor at the page level rather than the keyword level.

Also, often overlooked, there are the more technical aspects of SEO. Besides having strong, meaningful content and tags (particularly title and H1) – it’s critical to make sure the technical factors are in place. Your code should be “elegant” – requiring a minimal amount of language to create your pages. Site maps and robots.txt files are important too – since these help guide search engines through your site from “behind the scenes”. Both URL and site folder structure are also very important, and often neglected. Of course, QUALITY inbound links are still very valuable, but there is more emphasis on quality than ever before. In the constant cat and mouse game between Google and SEO specialists, Google always wins long term. As a result, links can no longer be forced or manipulated – they must originate from well respected websites.

Another key consideration related to content is authorship. This has become an increasingly important factor for Google when it comes to the source’s credibility for blogs and other content. Think of this as the Google seal of approval for content authority. As the rules have tightened, the bar raises thus requiring better, unique content.

Digital Trends Relating to SEO

The use of marketing automation platforms with functions that map to a conversion funnel is certainly a hot trend, and long overdue. Though keep in mind that the traffic generated via organic and paid SEO initiatives tends to represent people that are further along in the buying process. With clear calls to action, these visitors can more easily be turned into dollar signs. Throwing out “content bait” in blogs and social media to gain customers is a solid long term strategy, but it often takes time and nurturing to turn those visitors into sales.

Besides content marketing and automation, I see three big trends:

  1. More prominence will be placed on social signals – search engines will pay more attention to participation and content in social networks. Remember, engines want to return results that represent fresh relevant content, and social is a good indicator for both.
  2. Video will play a significantly larger role – particularly as mobile devices and the networks that support them get increasingly faster.
  3. Marketing for mobile will continue to explode – Google recently announced that 40% of YouTube traffic is mobile, up from 25% last year. LinkedIn recently cited the same – 40%. For Twitter, it’s 60%. Keep in mind that mobile user behavior is different. Typically, when someone is searching on mobile, they are much more ready to buy than those using a traditional device. Also, they don’t typically have the time to read.

My Advice to You:

Make sure the content on your website is well organized in a granular fashion – with very specific themes for each page. (See my last blog for specifics on strategies for manufacturing related sites.)

Your website should be responsive now – so that it behaves well despite the device that’s displaying it. Nobody wants to get lost swiping around to find a navigation or conversion button. Also, a responsive site typically indicates more search engine friendly code.

Be genuinely active in social media. Pay particular attention to Google+, Google has stated that this impacts search results, particularly when considering personalization – where results vary from user to user. Don’t do social just for the sake of doing it – be genuine, human, engaged, and helpful.

Finally, if you don’t have a video or mobile strategy yet. Stop reading and get to work.


Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

(c)2014, by Phil Paranicas

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About Phil Paranicas

Industrial Digital Marketing Specialist View all posts by Phil Paranicas

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