SEO: What you need to know to be found in search

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SEO is dead! Or haven’t you heard?

Every time Google tweaks its algorithm, the goes all a twitter about how SEO is dead. The reality is that SEO will never die—it will simply change and evolve, just like every other discipline since the beginning of time. However, certain SEO tactics will die and that is a good thing. What you need to know to be found in search is all below…

Digital marketer Jeff Sauer gave a great presentation on how SEO is changing and where it is going in the future at the last meeting of the NJ chapter of MENG (Marketing Executives Networking Group). His main point: that SEO is no longer about gaming the system with keywords and links. SEO is now about user experience.

Let me say that again: SEO is no longer about exploiting weaknesses in Google’s algorithm to appear in the top of the search rankings. SEO is now about providing the best possible user experience to visitors.

According to Sauer, the internet gods at Google and Bing have decreed that going forward, effective SEO should focus on these five things (and in this order):

  1. Content
  2. Social media
  3. User experience
  4. Links
  5. SEO

Let’s unpack that list a little bit here.

Content is still king—but with an important caveat: it must be great content! Create compelling content that is useful for your web visitors and you are well on your way. Remember, great content makes for a great user experience. On the flipside, if you don’t create great content, your pages will be penalized and slip in the rankings (or even disappear altogether).

Next, be active on social media and make your content easily shareable on social media. A good way to start that is by posting your articles on social media, especially Google+. With Google+, you can claim authorship for your content, which means your photo will show up next to your articles in search results. (This really helps your content stand out from other search results).

In this context, user experience is all about how well your site can help visitors. Can people find what they are looking for on your site or do they go back to Google and search again after visiting you? (Google knows this!) How about page load times? Does your page load quickly, or do people tire of waiting for it before your page finishes loading? And the pièce de résistance, does your site incorporate responsive design?

Now we come to the more “traditional” SEO tactics (as if an industry that is barely out of middle school in people years could have “traditions”). Link building is still important—but these links must be organic and meaningful. With Google’s latest update, gone are the days of buying piles of inbound links to get high rankings. Instead, going forward, quality—not quantity!—should be job one for link building.

Last on Sauer’s SEO to-do list is …SEO? Yup! Optimizing your website with keywords is still important and you should absolutely do it. It’s just not the be all and end all it used to be.

Notice how the top three things on the list have nothing to do with the traditional SEO tactics of link building and keyword tagging? That’s because SEO is changing! It’s no longer just about exploiting Google’s algorithm by buying links and keyword cramming. SEO is becoming all about the user experience.  Check out our video: Jeff Sauer on SEO and content marketing.

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