If you think you already know everything about search engine optimization, think again! If you think those articles that proclaim “SEO is dead!” are true, think again!
The truth is that SEO changes constantly, but it is not disappearing. Knowing the latest and greatest in that industry will improve your online presence.
Lucky for you, I like you, and I’ve created a comprehensive overview to get you started on the NEW SEO!
I first learned in-depth about SEO in 2012, when I was living in the heart of London, England working for a bridal designer. This was when the summer Olympics were held in London and the Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, to give a time perspective (and somehow I never saw either of those events, uhg). Sabina, the designer, came from a background of graphic design originally and as she was growing her brand applied some of that knowledge to her work.
SEO was one of the principles she applied to her web content. She taught me about single keyword focus and a few other tactics that are mostly outdated by now. One was jam-packing the keyword into the content. Since then I’ve learned more current SEO tactics (treat keywords like hot sauce – too much will ruin the dish, but dripped on here and there it can add powerful flavor).
Sabina has found success too, but not without revamping her optimization knowledge. She was always trying to expand her skill set by talking with experts and attending conferences. Being aware of trends didn’t just help her with fashion choices, but was good for building her online brand.
Since SEO tactics change, as Google and other search engines advance and as more is learned about online contexts, it is beneficial to stay up-to-date.
If you want to check out a particularly sassy overview of how SEO got buried, then this infographic is for you!
Once you finish mean-girl giggling, check below it for a how-to guide on using SEO in modern and innovative ways.
It’s not dead, it’s just different, and it can still be a powerful tool.
This is a simplified explanation of the NEW SEO: Search engines are getting better at understanding humans (not the opening to a new sci-fi movie, promise) and because of that, digital marketers can start thinking about engaging content for their audience first, BEFORE optimization for search engines. This is an important change.
At one point SEO was something only highly paid experts did. In recent years that has changed and it has become something easy to implement and understand. Anyone can apply SEO principles to their online context.
Let’s jump into more specific changes and improvements to get started!
The Old: Back in 2012, my boss was all about targeting a specific keyword.
The New: Now, it’s more important to target a wider range of keywords and focus on intent. How are these keywords being used? Do they make sense in the article? Are they necessary?
The Old: Design and SEO were kept separate. No one cared about mobile, no one cared about site speed. Only after SEO was in place did anyone start working on design elements.
The New: User experience is the #1 priority! (yay! We matter!) Marketers should realize that sites need to be engaging. Then users will spend longer periods of time on sites and check out numerous posts or pages on the site, which is a huge benefit. Also, page load times became important in rankings, and responsive design took over the world!
A report conducted by BrightEdge in 2014 found that mobile configuration errors resulted in a 68 percent loss in smartphone traffic on average. Woah! Responsive design would help. Also, remember that Google wants sites to render content in under one second, so if a site is slow, mobile rankings are going to be negatively impacted (plus everyone just hates slow loading sites anyway, like HATES).
The Old: Write content for search engines (the robots <3 reading).
The New: Write content for humans (yes, this is new knowledge). Content should sound natural and focus on the target audience (which is NOT robots! Don’t ever write for robots! They really could care less). Mostly this means that articles should make sense, should have a purpose, and should not JUST be focused on pulling in top rankings.
The Old: Text-based content.
The New: Content is mult-faceted. People like visuals when they surf the web. One of the great things about the web is that it has so many forms of media available. Give the people what they want! Multimedia is your new favorite word. Think it. Apply it.
- simple graphics
Craft content so that users can engage with it, like being able to share their opinions or start their own conversations.
Example: I wumbo, you wumbo, he, she, me wumbo, wumbo, wumboing, we’ll have thee wumbo – By Patrick Star
The New: Create compelling title and meta description tags that will sell the content. Titles should be clear on their subject so they are easy to find, but they can be creative too.
The Old: Ghost writers. Who’s even writing this? Doesn’t matter, unless their name is a keyword, then that will work to the site’s advantage. Give them a byline only if their last name is the keyword!
The New: People want to know where the content they’re reading is coming from. Attaching a face and a name to an article humanizes the content and also makes it more trustworthy. People want to read articles that have credibility and they want to be able to respond to articles with known authors.
Example: AutoGrow Weekly Content Writer Bio – Hi, I’m Sinead Cummings. I was supposed to be called Emma, but then my parents went with a confusing old Irish name instead and I love it! I am a graduate from Temple University in Philadelphia. I take Buzzfeed quizzes and eat a lot of pizza and one time I went to a bar where I coat checked a book.
See, not a robot, and I like pizza so I’m trustworthy. I have a name and a face and if you want to comment at the end of this article I will reply!
The New: Professional and creative writers create content that is highly shareable. Focus is on quality and not quantity.
The New: Creating a brand that is easily recognizable and attributing content to that brand. Users will be able to familiarize themselves with the brand and put a face to it, making it a more human and reliable source for content.
People see the AutoGrow logo or the little green leaf and are able to identify the brand. They are able to attribute the content they are reading to a reliable source.
The Old: Paid blog links, fake blog links, anything to get rankings up.
The New: High quality guest blogging is so hot and create legitimate links in industry-trusted sites (AutoGrow guest blogs!)
The Old: Reddit, StumpleUpon, Yahoo Buzz
The New: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn
Social media is a huge part of the NEW SEO. It’s a huge part of 2015 in general. Diversified traffic, instead of only traffic from a search engine, is the new focus.
Hashtags are a new way to incorporate keywords. Social media creates platforms for conversation around content. Viral exposure is possible if content is great and sharable. Social media is also a way to build relationships with users.
SEO tactics are always changing but should remain a feature important to marketers.
Use this checklist to make sure SEO doesn’t die on your site:
- On-site optimization: site is fast and flexible, content is useful, design is optimized for conversation
- External optimization: strategic in targeting traffic and willing to refine tactics whenever
- Performance optimization: sites should load FAST (seconds! no more than 3!) and MUST be mobile responsive
- Content creation: content solves problems and makes sense across the site, fits the site’s mission
- Social marketing: understand the strengths and weaknesses for each platform to invest time smartly
- Conversion optimization: give visitors calls to action and then follow through with those leads
- Search Engines: keywords need context and that context should be build across the site. It’s the new key to being found via search.
Anything I missed in the NEW SEO checklist? Agree or disagree that SEO is still kicking? Let me know!
Feature image from digitalinformationworld.com