I recently heard an interview with an entrepreneur who was pulling in a six-figure profit every month. This guy was making money in his sleep. He hadn’t finished college, didn’t come from money and, from what I knew, was never a Jeopardy champ (which in my world is of course the only legitimate measure of intelligence).
The key to his success? Mastering search engine optimization (SEO) for the right people, at the right time. At his peak he was known as the “SEO King”…. and then one year he was abruptly stripped of his title in a matter of minutes. In one of its biggest algorithm updates, Google had changed the rules of the SEO game overnight, and he had missed the boat. His six-figure-a-month salary became a four digit one, and he had to relearn everything he knew about optimizing for search engines to rebuild his business.
His story highlights not only the importance of SEO, but also the importance of doing it right. And as this entrepreneur learned the hard way, the definition of impactful SEO is always changing. The SEO landscape has shifted dramatically in the past year alone. While mastering it might not be the gold mine it was back in the day, it’s still a crucial component to a solid overall marketing strategy. Here’s a look at some of the ways you can master the “new SEO.”
Content Creators Gain New Responsibilities
Over the years, marketers have come to realize – and every update to Google’s algorithm confirms – that inauthentic tactics just won’t cut it any more. High-quality, relevant content is the new way of SEO and the onus of optimizing pages is increasingly falling on the shoulders of content creators and inbound marketers as they navigate merging content with SEO strategies.
Solid, engaging content is non-negotiable these days. If you don’t have time to create it yourself, consider outsourcing content development to a writer or marketing agency – just make sure they know their stuff and keep within your brand.
Social is the New Backlink
Where backlinks used to tell search engines which sites were important or popular, social media is the new SEO discovery engine. Twitter does a great job of feeding Google new hyperlinked content, whether it’s a blog post or a tweet, as it’s added to your site. Additionally, Facebook posts drive Bing results, which are in turn picked up by Google and can affect your page rank. (Permission granted to revisit this article to justify your social media habits whenever guilt starts to creep in!).
The Power of Long-Tail Keywords
Focusing on singular keywords and cramming them into your content as often as possible – whether or not they truly added anything to your overall message – was the old rule of SEO.
The new method is to identify searchers’ keyword intent and needs, using long-tail keywords to make more relevant connections to potential customers. This is especially important for entrepreneurs, start-ups and smaller companies who are unlikely to appear on the first page of search results for a singular keyword search (i.e. “apple pie”). The proof is in the pudding: 70 percent of search traffic comes from long-tail keywords (i.e. “homemade cinnamon raisin apple pie”). These will bring a more tailored audience, and one that is more likely to purchase your services or product, to your site.
Sharing is Caring
While a large emphasis is placed on optimizing for keywords, focusing on creating content that is not only readable, but also shareable is key. Use the AddThis plugin if you have a WordPress site to integrate social sharing functions directly into your content. A “Tweet this” link, Facebook share button, or bite-sized, ‘tweetable’ fact can go a long way. All of these make it easy for readers to share your content on social and get your content in front of a larger audience.
While these points don’t come close to summarizing everything that SEO is or requires to be successful, keeping them in mind can put you steps ahead of the SEO dinosaurs that are still keyword-cramming and back-linking like their lives depend on it. Until they catch up to more savvy marketers, keep churning out great content, and maybe make some petitions to the Google gods before they change their algorithms on us again!