In times not so long ago, SEO (search engine optimization) was an isolated marketing tactic. The best practices changed over time, evolving through the Google Panda and Penguin updates from keyword stuffing to long-tail keywords and everything in between. Today, however, while SEO remains an important part of an overall strategy, it can no longer be rigidly defined and segmented. Today’s SEO should blend seamlessly with social media, user experience, and content marketing. Here are 5 reasons why.
- User Experience:
Internet users today are savvy and demanding. They expect an excellent experience that answers their questions, solves a problem, or provides the opportunity for further research. Blogs, videos, and other multimedia or interactive tools increase engagement and make it more likely for users to return to the site in the future. Even more importantly for SEO, users tend to share those websites that they deem high-quality with their friends, often through social media. Rather than simply trying to attract visitors to your site by ranking high in Google search, you can now tap into the power of the shared Internet experience to drive traffic. These tools work hand in hand, as increased sharing can lead to more backlinks and higher Google rankings, while a highly ranked site is more likely to be shared.
- Link Building:
Link building, or getting other sites to link to yours, is a vital component of SEO. While its importance has not significantly changed, the best practices for developing those links have. Instead of investing in old-school, manual (or even automated) link building tactics, focus on creating quality content that can be easily shared around the Internet. As your content is passed around via social media, more and more authoritative sites will naturally link to yours.
- Bounce Rates:
The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that immediately click away from your website and try another listing. This number is important to the Google algorithm, because it indicates which sites users find the most helpful and relevant. To reduce your bounce rates, you’ll need to make sure your webpages are 100 percent relevant, engaging, and easy to use. In other words, focus on usability and the user experience so that your visitors don’t get confused and click back away from your website.
- Time on Site:
Time on site is how long users remain on your site. It takes only a few seconds for a web searcher to decide whether a site is worth exploring in more detail. Therefore, Google takes the bounce rate a step further. If users do not spend much time on your site, it counts against you more than if they remain on the site for several minutes before moving on. Therefore, engaging users for a longer period of time is critical to retaining high Google rankings.
- Quality Content:
The Google Quality Update launched in early May 2015, but Google kept mum on the subject in the first few weeks. The company is still holding its cards close, but has admitted that its latest algorithm update affects site rankings based on perceived quality. We don’t know exactly what factors the algorithm considers, but the following likely play a critical role:
- Richness and credibility: Each page should be expertly written and filled with deep content. If the writer or sponsoring organization is a recognized subject matter expert, or quotes those that are, the page may get a boost. An easy way to boost your credibility is to provide full, accurate contact information on your site.
- Value: Find an angle that makes your content unique, while maintaining the highest quality standards, and you should have no trouble passing the value test.
- Professionalism: In addition to using spelling and grammar checkers, make sure to proofread each page manually to avoid simple mistakes. Also, quickly remove spam comments in your blog or forum, and build up any pages that have thin or outdated information.
As you can see SEO has not gone away, but it has fundamentally changed over the past few years. To be successful, you now need to incorporate social media, website user experience, and content optimization.