When we ask our customers what their SEO key performance indicators are, they usually respond with two common answers, rankings for certain keywords and backlinks. This is not much of a surprise, since most people have been taught that SEO is a game that is played with search engines in order to manipulate them into giving them better rankings. Essentially, they try to beat the system and come up with the right manipulations to do so. Use the right keywords, and get as many links as they can from questionable sources, so they can profit.
The changes that took place in 2013, completely altered this picture. 2013 was a year of huge changes in SEO. Google rolled out several updates to combat link farms, poor linking strategies and web pages that were over-optimised. To make matters worse keyword data was taken away from analytics data and was combined into a huge not-provided bucket. The search algorithm used by Google now has more than 200 factors associated with it, while many people continue to focus on backlinks and rankings.
Even the search results have changed. There may no longer be ten text links displayed as the result of a search, but all kinds of other types of results such as shopping ads, knowledge graph data, news items, and a local places carousel.
For example, in the past purchasing exact match domains was very common. People would purchase popular exact match domain names and sell them to whomever would bid the most for them. In fact, the domain pizza.com was sold for over $2 million. Of course the buyer assumed that this domain would also rank first for searches that included ‘pizza’ in them. At the time this domain was purchased, that was indeed the case. However, if you execute a search for ‘pizza’ today on Google a number of results will come up, but pizza.com is not anywhere to be found.
You will end up with the following types of results:
- Results that are locally relevant
- Contextually relevant results such as trends or news articles
- Knowledge relevant information such as nutritional information
Here are the major concepts that should be considered as you adjust your SEO campaigns for 2014:
- Do you have a optimised Google Places listing and have you optimised it for local search terms Have you included video and image content.? Have you obtained numerous local citations?
- Do you have listings on local review and search guides?
- Are there reviews of your business on Yelp, Angie’s List, Google and other venues? This may assist a user in selecting your business from Google’s carousel.
- Have you included an interior view of your business as an attachment to the map view? This will give potential customers a view of your business interior prior to visiting.
- Is your site viewable on a mobile device? For example, if you operate a restaurant, is your menu viewable on a smartphone?
- Disregarding keywords for a moment. Does your result on search and your site answer a user’s question? If they search for ‘plumber’ as a keyword, what they are really seeking is the nearest plumber to their location and one which they could trust.
- Is the pertinent information available to your user? For a plumber, this may be a simple matter of letting them know that you offer 24 hour emergency service. You may have a certain specialisation that would be of interest to your potential clients.
- Is your site creating the right type of conversions? For instance, you may need click-to-call functionality for mobile users and track it as a goal on Google Analytics. When ranking your site, Google looks to see if it is effective.
- Do you use social media to promote your client’s experience with your business? Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and Google Plus are excellent places to share content with your prospective clients. Building a strong following and sharing your content on social networks can have a positive influence on your search rankings.
- Certainly, you should share promotions and specials, and you can share videos that you produce during trade shows and create other types of content that will be useful to your customers that does not have a promotional nature.
- You should get links to your site from partners, suppliers, vendors, non-profits, and local groups that you work with. Links from media that is relevant to your specific industry can also be helpful. This will serve you much better than submitting to all the directories you can find. Consider who you would want to associate your business with and try to get a link from them. If you belong to a local business group or sponsor a local sports team, you should certainly get a link from them.
- Become an authority in your niche and demonstrate your knowledge by producing great content. If you have a particular speciality, blog on it. Make sure it is included on your site and spread the word on social media platforms.
During 2014, we need to return to the basics of online marketing and build our marketing campaigns like they are to operate in a real world environment. If you show that you have local relevance, contextual relevance, and knowledge relevance you should have fantastic results on the web this year!