Tagged: SEO

New Year – New Rules? My SEO Predictions For 2012

Happy New Year Everyone!

It’s 2012 and since I don’t expect the world to end like so many dooms day sayers I am looking into the future. At the beginning of every year experts and analyzers look at previous trends and make predictions on what’s suppose to happen in their industry. SEO and Internet Marketing is no different. I’m no Rand Fishkin but I’d like to give you my two cents anyway.

Mobile SEO

One of the things that I’ve been hearing for that last couple of years is that mobile SEO will be the new, hot thing that everyone needs to look out for. I heard that in 2010 and in 2011 and you know what we all found out? That the importance of mobile SEO services is very overrrated and not as useful as we thought it would be.

The reason that’s true is because the major difference between mobile search and regular search (desktops and laptops) is that mobile searchers make shorter queries; all that means is that you need to work on broad keywords. Other than that we learned that mobile searchers are often local searchers, so if you have a local business you need a website and you need to think about SEO. Aside from, it’s pretty much the same. It’s like a new ingredient has been added to a recipe. It’s nice and it does influence the flavor of things but it’s not the big game changer everyone and their blogger was saying it would be.

I don’t expect more out of mobile SEO than that. No doubt smart phone usage will go up but that fact won’t change the way SEOs work.

Image Search

I haven’t heard of any predictions this year on mobile search but I can make a few of my own based on my experience with it. As search engines get better at interpreting images, they will become a more important part of on page SEO. Will it be a game changer for the industry? No, it’s game changing days are over but image reading has become incredibly sophisticated and image optimization shouldn’t be overlooked. I’ve seen an incredible amount of traffic come in from optimizing images. Google Image search does a great job of providing traffic to the websites that I work with so it’s a good idea to make sure that you have this basic element covered. As Google gets better at reading images it’ll be important to not misrepresent your images with bad alt tags but make sure you have them!

Social and Search

I’ve heard a lot of things about how Social Media Marketing and SEO are becoming two of the same thing. I’m finding this to be true,  It’s harder and harder for websites to rank with out social marketing. This is great for big creative businesses but not as much for small ones who don’t want to put the time into maintaining a twitter profile. Google Plus is a minor ranking factor, shares and retweets count in building profile [and therefore website] authority and good customer service always helps your business thrive. If you have a boring businesses and don’t want to dive into social media you may not be able to survive against companies that do. Industries like industrial plumbing won’t have to embrace social media as quickly as Tech does but if they want to rank they are going to have to keep up with the times.

International Ranking

This is kind of becoming a thing of the past. Unless you’re a mega, multinational, multi-industry corporation it’ll get harder and harder for you to rank in search engines globally. Why do I say that? Because having a website isn’t a novelty anymore; having an optimized website is standard practice now. The web is growing at an unbelievable pace, according to Mashable’s web growth. In the infancy of the internet a website probably had several thousand real competitors in it’s industry, now I’d guess a site has several million. I’m guessing because I don’t know, no one truly knows the numbers because the web is growing so fast.

If you want to rank internationally you can’t just say “we are an international company” and have an 1-800 number, you need to prove it! And you prove your worth on the international market  by having different location listings, phone numbers, domains with corresponding languages and make sure it’s SEO friendly.  The bigger the web gets the harder it will be to have a wide reach, this is another reason why Social Media Marketing is so important (hint, hint).

There are a few other predictions that I can make but I’m sure this is a enough for now. We’ll just have to see how things play out.

 

Social Media and SEO: A Case Study

Every so often I feel compelled to write about a marketing project I have worked on. I want to keep the story as real as possible but I also care about the privacy of client. This blog is about a former client, with some of the more identifiable elements changed or removed.

A long, long time ago…

I had a client trying to do something big and great on the Internet. He wanted his website to be “the hub on the internet” for a specific type of medical professional.

With his big business dreams, he needed a big Internet marketing campaign to help his dreams come true. I was contacted and hired to be apart of his marketing team.

The client, Anthony, spoke with me and an associate about all he wanted to accomplish. He dreamed big, but he had very little understand of the Internet (or even computers for that matter). After a very lengthy meeting, he was excited about the idea of incorporating SEO and social media marketing.

In our next planning meeting he brought his social media expert, a very lovely person, Amanda. She had a media company specializing in social marketing. Everyone was very committed and eager to get things going right. Spirits were high.

The Best Laid Plans…

It was up to me to conduct the social media research and the search engine optimization. After reviewing their website layout and their content and keyword strategy, we were on our way to launching a new website.

Once I finished researching the best social platforms on the web for the site, I presented my findings to Amanda. After going back and forth, she was ready. We picked Twitter and Facebook because of the sheer user mass, two niche sites because of the quality of users and blog-sphere search engine boost that blogs provide a website.

Some scoff at the idea of a blog being a social media tool. In reality, it’s one of the older and most useful forms of communicating on the web. By having a blog you are establishing credibility. Adding new pages to your website keeps your website relevant. You can create a loyal group of followers by regularly contributing meaningful content to the web and blogging helps your ranking. Adding fresh unique content on a website helps with search engine optimization. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t have one.

Amanda kicked off her social media efforts developing the Facebook fan base and blogging. The blog, which was a part of the website (not on a sub domain or a separate site), had several new blog posts added daily. The sheer volume of work that Amanda was putting out was awe inspiring. All looked promising until I actually began to read the blogs. br />
Every post was copied from a popular industry news site.

Amanda was copying other website’s news articles and putting them on the doctors site! This may not sound that bad to most people until you consider how plagiarism or “duplicate content” is dealt with by search engines.

Cheaters Never Win

First of all plagiarism is wrong. Some seem to think that they have a free pass because the Internet is some kooky place where they can break the rules. However there are intellectual property laws that include content posted on the Internet. Webmasters can and do go after plagiarizers. I have done it myself. Producing good content for the web isn’t easy and those that make the effort should be rewarded; Search Engines think they should be rewarded too.

Search Engines such as Google, value original content on the web. Sites that have really unique, high quality content are favored and will rank higher in search results than sites with less valuable content. Low quality sites or Content Farms are constantly being pushed down by search engines whenever Google makes an algorithm change like the Google Panda update so having duplicate content on your site is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

At best, duplicate content will be ignored. At worst, duplicate content will have you banned from Google. If Google bans you, basically you cease to exist.

As the duplicate content keep getting added I spoke to Anthony about it but he seemed to ignore my concerns since the Facebook page had a lot of activity. I read all of the fine print about duplicate content and it said as long as there was a link back to the originator the site would get banned. There always was so the site was riding the line of being safe.

Put Out the Fire

As the months went by, the rankings were not improving. Pressure was put upon me to circumvent the duplicate content issue and circumvent I surely tried.

I combed through every blog post to change the wording, add keywords, optimize and re-optimize alt tags. I changed the URLs of the posts. I went through hundreds of old blog posts in an effort to make the site better.

As time progressed, and the rankings were slow coming. Anthony grew more frustrated with the inability to get above position 20 for some of his core key terms. URLs linking back to the originator were changed to no follows links (grey hat, yes I know). For a short time there was a slight improvement in rankings. Amanda, who turned out to be a long time friend of Anthony, received much of the credit for all of her diligent efforts, while suspicion loomed about my ability to get them on the first page. My talk of original content became more of a nag to everyone and they was growing weary of hearing it.

Towards the end of our time together, a couple of original blog posts were added to the site. In the end several pages of oreiginal content couldn’t compete with hundreds of duplicate pages on the site.

High quality links were hard to come by, in part because their site’s Page Rank never got past zero and webmasters refused to link to “suspicious” sites. We ended our professional relationship, prematurely but it was for the best; I could not help them and they would not stop copying content.

The Moral of This Story

A divided house cannot stand, meaning your SEO campaign won’t work if your social media marketing is killing it.