It almost seems boring to write a post about how something that has been around for a while hasn’t changed that much. In the world of advertising and media, things that don’t change seem a bit dry, but reality wins and so goes SEO. SEO, solid SEO that works i.e. drives quality traffic and brand boosting, requires strategy, time, thoughtful integration and that evil dark thing called “hard work.” Having optimized many sites by now and being someone who is always looking for the latest, greatest improvement of web methodology for my own curiosity sake and the value of my client’s…I have come to the boring conclusion that solid SEO, is still solid SEO, and requires, like I said, strategy, time, thoughtful integration and just plain hard work, over time. Yes, to make it worse, it takes lots of time, and the first couple of months sometimes don’t yield any results. Yes, you read that right. From the client side you will not be able to control Google, Yahoo, consumer interest or the weather. Frightening, but true.
I asked an old colleague of mine yesterday, and incidentally, a brilliant SEO guy, what, after 2 years since we chatted about it, he sees as the top 5 SEO tactics. In other words, what is SEO to you? Again, not a surprising response, but the answer is still, excellent site architecture, a planned and executed keyword and content strategy and lots of relationshiop building i.e. links. Also on the list is developing and executing a plan to keep your content fresh and inviting to visitors and search engines. It is mind boggling to many in the SEO industry that there are still sites being built today that take zero consideration for SEO. Since the onset of SEO in the mid 90’s the means to gain visitors to your site has evolved and SEO techniques have rested on these 5 principles (they vary based on authors, but here is my take):
Domain names that make sense, clean code, lack of search engine crawler obstruction, H1 and other tags and maintaining that “cleanness”, all matter.
Tuning into what your customers call your product, not what your sales team or marketers think your customers call your product is crucial. Focus groups and cross company brainstorms sessions work for this. Supplement this research with the many free research tools available (Google’s for one) and you are off to a great start.
What are the topics most interesting to your audience? What information compels your audience to buy from you? What are the key brand statements that need to be integrated into your content? What Calls to Action work on direct mail and TV. That gets you started on an online content strategy – test, test and test.
Fill your social media strategy with the topics your customers want to hear about: problems you have solved, how you can save them money and time and point that content to your site. Even better point that content to a targeted landing page with a specific offer or planned outcome.
I say “relationship building” instead of “Link building” because there are rumblings that Google is also eyeing your use of sloppy, meaningless mutual links. (SEO buyers beware, you should not be paying for this sloppiness) Sometimes links are mutual (like networking relationships) and sometimes they are not. Your site needs to reflect that. Enough said.
So, SEO tactics may not have changed drastically, but the need to change and add to a web site and blog on a regular basis, keep it dynamic, not static, has not changed. You would not let your TV or direct mail copy go untested, what has your web site and blog not changed for a year? Quarterly, monthly and weekly, even daily schedules are in order for your site. Both need and editorial calendar just like any effective advertising medium.
A planning document with each of the above elements gives you a great launching pad for this effort. Whether you outsource the SEO effort or keep it in house, measure action -> results on a weekly basis. Actions that don’t work, need to be changed, strategies that fail, rewritten, and on it goes.
The good news is that a well executed SEO plan can yield fantastic results, great brand exposure, clicks and sales from targeted traffic. The time and work yields results and is worth the effort. And so it goes, solid SEO, is still solid SEO.