the inbound-i blog: Inbound Marketing Information, Ideas & Intelligence

Future of SEO: Three Areas of Impact

Posted by Ellie Becker on Wed, Jun 27, 2012 @ 12:06 PM

Future of SEO is NowBecause of changes to Google's approach to search, some are beginning to question the future role of SEO in inbound marketing. Google is beginning to link search results it delivers to the social media behavior and browsing history of the searcher. This is one result of Google's foray into social media with Google+.

In the future, which in a limited way is now, what comes up on page one of search results will be different for you than it is for me. This puts the notion of high search engine rankings into question. Why bother with SEO if we no longer care about page one? But we should care. It just requires a shift in how we get there. Here are the three key areas that will be important to successful SEO in the future.

1. Keyword Research - What continues to be critical about the activities involved in SEO is keyword research - regardless of how search engines decide to parcel out results. The reason? Key word research gives us true insight to our buyer personae - our key audiences.

It's critical to success that we understand the words our prospects use to search for products and services like ours. I can bet you that the words they use are a far cry from the words we use in our carefully constructed website copy.

2. Social Media Context -- Where we need to shift is to become much more aware of where our prospects are engaged in social media. In addition to knowing where they spend time and effort engaging online, we must also become more engaged ourselves. Our associations with key audiences, our interconnectedness with their communities will influence our being presented to them on page one query results.

3. Great Content -- I agree with some online marketing experts that the most important inbound marketing component will continue to be creating great content. Keyword research helps assure that the content will appeal to the intended audience and will include language that resonates with them. Social networks assure effective targeting and delivery of our messages.

But ultimately, it’s our level of creativity, professional knowledge and awareness of our audiences’ needs that will contribute to producing content that moves to the top of search results. Such content will not only attract search engines, but will move people to action by showcasing our capabilities to provide the products and services being sought.

 

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The image is from the flickr photostream of Aurelian S  under Creative Commons license.

Topics: E.R. Becker Company, SEO, Social Media, Google+, Keyword Research, Google+, Content

How to Improve SEO: Blog Your Keywords

Posted by Ellie Becker on Sun, May 06, 2012 @ 12:05 PM

My last post was described as the final in a 'How to Improve SEO' series. Not quite so, as the title of this post will attest. I began writing these posts primarily because I'm working with so many clients lately to add optimization to their sites, fix sites with poorly selected search terms and to improve usability. There's so much misinformation or downright lack of information about SEO that I felt it was high time to address it in the blog. How to Improve SEO

There was another reason for the series tied to my own marketing. Although I do alot of SEO work and have been quite successful in getting my clients ranking on page one for important keywords, in my own search engine rankings, I was absolutely nowhere to be found for search terms related to SEO.

Every piece of content we add to our sites is an opportunity to optimize and rank for another keyword. I use my own marketing as lab and role model for what I teach my clients so I decided it would be a good experiment to go from 'off the radar screen' to high ranking for the term 'How to Improve SEO'.

My research showed that the term in "phrase match" gets 440 searches monthly in the U.S. Anyone looking to improve SEO is an excellent prospect for me and I don't need more than a handful of new clients to reach my revenue objectives - so it was a good choice for my business. (Business strategy and objectives is always the place to start in making marketing decisions.)

I began the series of blog posts optimized for 'How to Improve SEO' on March 12th. After publishing them, I publicized them with a link on social media - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (including about 15 LinkedIn Groups) and - most important - Google+. I believe that Google+ is a lynchpin in successful SEO strategies because when I publicize on G+ my posts are indexed by Google within 48 hours. I know this because I maintain a Google Alert on my website url. When I get an alert about a new post, it means that it's been indexed.

On the morning of May 3rd, I checked my ranking for 'How to Improve SEO' for the first time since starting the series and - I had position 64! This put me on about page 5 or 6. Later that morning, I received a Google Alert on the latest post published a couple of days before. When I checked my ranking again later that evening I found that I'd moved up to position 26!! About page 2 or 3.

By the way - I find my rankings right in my HubSpot software along with all other manner of measurement and analytics. The chart shown above from my HubSpot  Keywords tool shows you exactly when my ranking for ‘How to Improve SEO’ started to shoot up – a fast 5 weeks after the first post of the series.

The results of this experiment led me to share the story as a personal case study in this additional post while, at the same time, taking the opportunity to move to Page 1 by blogging once more on the search term. I'll let you know what happens. This inbound marketing stuff really works, dear readers. Why wouldn't you want to do something that's proven to work?

While you're here, learn 20 more reasons why you should use Inbound Marketing.

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Topics: HubSpot Tips, Inbound Marketing, Inbound Marketing Strategy, E.R. Becker Company, SEO, Google+

Inbound Marketing Advice: Improve SEO for Competitive Advantage

Posted by Ellie Becker on Mon, Mar 12, 2012 @ 18:03 PM

Lately we’ve taken on some client engagements that underscore an important fact: If you want to use your online presence to improve your competitive advantage, then improve SEO! In my opinion, developing a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is one of the easiest ways today to leapfrog your competitors. Improve SEO for Competitive Advantage

In each of these client projects we’ve found that they have:

  • Spent considerable time and budget on their branding and on their websites.
  • Created the compelling products or services needed to compete well and are – or can be – industry leaders.
  • Not optimized their web pages for search engines.

The bad news? Their websites are not coming up in search engine results pages (SERPs) for many of their important keywords.

The good news? Neither are their competitors’ sites!!

There are a number of elements to successfully ranking high in search results. The first place to start is right on your website with on-page SEO. We’ll discuss other elements of successful SEO in later blog posts.

When we work with clients to improve their SEO, we look at competitors’ sites to learn what keywords they may be using and how well they rank in search engine results for important industry search terms. We have seen time and again that within entire industry top tiers, few, if any, are optimizing. Or they’re not up to speed on the latest best practices.

Here’s a quick test to see if you have an opportunity to leapfrog your main competitor using SEO.

Open up your website to the home page and look at your title bar. That’s the bar all the way at the top of your web browser. If it says: Your Company Name – Home, you have SEO work to do.

Now open your top competitor’s home page and see what’s at the top. If it has Their Company Name – Home, or just Home in the title bar, you have a huge opportunity to leapfrog this competitor in search results. If the competitor’s title bar begins with an industry key word or two, maybe their town or state next, and their company name last, you’ll have to implement SEO to catch up before you can play leapfrog.

Even if you’ve optimized your site in the past, the rules keep changing as search engines improve their search processes – called algorithms – to improve results for users. So spiffing up your SEO is an ongoing inbound marketing activity.

In future posts we’ll explore other elements of SEO including:

  • Keyword Research
  • Link Building
  • Usability, Visitor Experience and Content

 

In the meantime, to learn more about Inbound Marketing, including why you should consider a Content Management System like HubSpot, download your free fact sheet:

20 Reasons You Should Take Control of Your Website Using HubSpot.

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The image is from the Flickr photostream of Danard Vincente under Creative Commons license.

 

Topics: Inbound Marketing, E.R. Becker Company, SEO, the inbound-i blog, Online Marketing Strategy, Google+

Ads and Graphics vs Content: Google Says Content Wins

Posted by Ellie Becker on Thu, Feb 23, 2012 @ 21:02 PM

Google - Content vs GraphicsHere’s the latest message from Google: If you want to rank well in search results, don’t create barriers of graphics and ads between the top of your web page and your content.

In an effort to get searchers to what they’re looking for, Google has changed its algorithm to assess how difficult you’re making it for them to get there.

The algorithm change is in response to users’ complaints that they land on a page and can’t find what they want. Whether they’re obscured from the desired information by lots of ads, or because the page has tons of graphics you have to scroll past to get to the info doesn’t really matter.

If your graphics are obscuring useful information, you’re not going to rank well in search engine results. In other words, you won’t get found.

Regularly I’m doing research for clients to determine how they can leap frog their competition. Regularly I’m seeing pages that are totally graphics and the little information that exists is contained in a graphical image that can’t necessarily be read by search engines. More times than not these images don’t contain alt tags – the source code that tells Google what an image is about (Google doesn’t recognize images – only text.)

Part of what Google is focused on is what appears ‘above the fold’ and what appears ‘below the fold’. This language reverts to newspaper jargon. If you take the New York Times and fold it midway between top of page and bottom of page, everything in the top half is ‘above the fold’.  The bottom half is ‘below the fold’. In print newspapers, the most important stories were closest to the top of the page, heralded by headlines that explained what the story was about – and why it was important to the reader.

Google takes a similar approach. It wants the info that tells what a page is about at the top. If the page is divided into more than one column, Google wants a dominant column with a keyword laden headline that establishes the informational focus of the page.

Best is to put the key concepts of the page across the top – above the fold -- and other info below the fold. The ‘below the fold’ info can be divided into columns and it’s great if you can optimize a below the fold column for a keyword.

Given Google’s new interest in page design, it’s imperative for graphic design and SEO to coordinate and collaborate. This may take some doing, but it’s evidence of how Web 2.0 is compelling us to break down marketing silos.

 

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Image credit: Illustrationpages.com

Topics: E.R. Becker Company, SEO, Google+, Google Algorithm, Web design, Graphic Design

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