2013 was a year that saw numerous events that had a massive impact on SEO and online marketing as a whole. In the past, SEO was essentially about two things; keywords and links. However, this led to large amounts of keyword saturation and link building, not to mention, quite a considerable amount of attempts to game against the system, using what we call ‘black hat’ SEO techniques. Over the past year, Google has made some major algorithm changes that have changed the direction of SEO and online marketing as a whole.
September 2013 was a big month for online marketing, with two major changes to search putting nails in the coffin of the keyword salesman:
First of all, Google switched to https:// privacy settings, meaning that all ever increasing amounts of keyword search queries would show up as ‘Not Provided’ in Analytics. This means that although anyone who uses Google to search for keywords or phrases that might lead to your website can still do so, however, you do not have access to this data. Whilst keyword search data is no longer available for organic search, in a further effort by Google to protect their Adwords revenue, keyword data continues to be available for paid search.
Secondly, Google surprised everyone by announcing the release of a brand new algorithm with no warning. Many argue that Hummingbird will prove to be the biggest change in Google’s algorithm since the beginning. The main purpose of Hummingbird is to allow Google to be able to interpret much more ‘conversational’, semantic language, understanding the intent of a search rather than just recognising short keywords.
The introduction of Hummingbird could be linked with the ever increasing popularity of mobile search. Many people prefer to use voice search on their mobile devices, talking directly into the handset to find what they need. We have started to search questions, not keywords. This means that people are less likely to use short-tail keywords, and are instead likely to search using full sentences that are more familiar to our everyday speech.
Hummingbird plays a big part in changing the way that SEO and online marketing is sold. The future of SEO is no longer based on keywords, but how keywords form a relationship to the intent of a targeted search. Whereas in the past, many in the online marketing community could get away with keyword stuffing to a certain level, the introduction of Hummingbird brings about the importance of online marketers producing more quality, detailed, long form articles that are designed to answer long-tail search phrases.
It could be argued that we are yet to fully see the real extent of Hummingbird’s impact online marketing, however, with search engines adapting to the way that we are now using long-tailed and question-like search queries, Hummingbird has undoubtedly set the stage for a future that is centred on mobile search. Online marketers must therefore adapt their strategies away from short keywords and push out more and more semantic-influenced content in order to capture more traffic. In 2014, we can only expect to see the increasing impact of Hummingbird.
Lots of people like to talk about how SEO is dead. I don’t think there is any truth in this. As far as I can see SEO is just as important as ever and providing you are prepared to abide by the rules and amend your tactics pretty much constantly you can still very much reap the rewards. What is dead however, is the traditional method of selling SEO on keyword rankings and importance.
Whilst keywords are still very much a part of any online marketing strategy as they help us to hone in on what it is that matters to that business and what topics must be covered in the copy presented on that website, they are not the be-all and end-all of successful online marketing.
Google uses Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) to index content on webpages so if you think writing a few paragraphs with the same keyword appearing every few lines is going to get you to the top of SERPS you are very much mistaken. Good relevant content is built around related, synonym and similar keywords – each requiring justification to be on the page. With the introduction of Hummingbird, created to understand more complex search queries, onsite content must now be written to address the potential long tail questions that searchers may ask – moving focus away from more generic keyword search terms and getting people to look at the value of the content itself.
Whilst Google might like to think that Pay Per Click will kill the keyword salesman I think we can all safely agree that in the world of white hat SEO, selling on keyword performance alone is pretty much dead already. Yes keywords still have a role in online marketing but this is part of a wider visibility strategy that simply cannot be achieved and sustained through keyword marketing alone.
If you want a straight talking approach to your online marketing why not give SEO it Right a call on 0121 308 0219 where we can explain more about this.
Posted by Frances Berry
In the world of online marketing, SEO has developed a terrible reputation. There is good reason for this. Alongside the hard working online marketers who thrive by working alongside their clients to create the right campaign for their business, there are also thousands of shady characters that are ready to ride in and scam businesses large and small out of massive amounts of money. These SEO Cowboys are tarnishing the good name of all other search marketers.
The question is, who are these Cowboys? Unfortunately, they can be hard to spot. It is unlikely that they ride a horse, there is little chance that they will announce themselves with the clinking of their spurs, and though they use black hat tactics to rob good honest companies of hard earned money, they seldom choose to advertise this. The whole business of being an SEO cowboy is to trick clients into believing that they are the good guys that will help you make the treacherous journey to the top of search rankings safely and in no time at all. The chances are, you won’t last long on the wagon train.
With businesses being hassled constantly by unsolicited emails and phone calls, it is important to determine what makes a good online marketer. So how can an SEO Cowboy be found? Even without a giveaway black ten gallon hat, it is simpler than you would think to separate the villains from the honest SEO guys. To find out if an SEO agency really know what they are doing, there are a few key things to consider.
- First of all, take a look at their website. What does the website look like, what is the website’s content like and more importantly, how are they ranked on Google? You should expect a good online marketer to practice what they preach on their own website. If they can’t do a decent job marketing themselves online, then how can you expect them to do a good job for you? If a potential SEO company approaches you and you can’t find their website, or it is dated and free of informative content, you would be wise to leave your cheque book in your wallet.
- Are they making unrealistic promises? Very often, if an SEO company is making a claim that seems too good to be true, that is because it is. As many businesses want instant results, SEO Cowboys often feed them what they want to hear, rather than telling them the truth. SEO is a time consuming process, and any company claiming that they will get you to the top of Google for numerous keywords overnight is likely to be using underhand tactics. Even though this may benefit you for a short time, it will do you considerable harm in the long run. Google is never fooled for long.
- It is a worrying sign if an Online Marketer trying to sell their services to you is not open about their strategies, or just bores you with jargon. If somebody claims that SEO is all a highly guarded secret, or talks at you, throwing big fancy buzz words in your face, there is a good chance that they aren’t entirely sure what they are talking about. Many Cowboys are great salesmen, but not so effective at SEO. It is also important to take note of what an SEO agency wants to know about you. A good online marketer should require as much information from you as possible about your products, services, competition, market and relevant keywords.
- Especially in the days since Google Penguin waddled into town, Social Media is an essential part of online marketing. Is your potential SEO company active on their social accounts? Do they use them correctly and effectively? If a suspected SEO Cowboy does not make regular posts, or if they don’t make relevant posts linking back to their website, they may not be too clued up on the latest Google algorithm changes and SEO techniques.
- Perhaps the most important thing to remember about SEO is that content is key. Google loves nothing more than content rich websites. Look at an SEO company’s content marketing efforts carefully to see the quality of their work. If an online marketing agency has a helpful website and a high quality blog on which they post great, informative and relevant articles on a regular basis, this is a very positive indicator that they know how to perform content marketing successfully.
Essentially, a good SEO company is an open company. Online marketers should be able to do for themselves what they claim to be able to do for you, and communicate with you on a regular basis so you both know what’s going on. For SEO to work successfully, it has to be a two way relationship, where the customer gets the same out of their online marketing consultant as they give to them.
Though many people have had negative experiences with the countless numbers of Cowboys marauding as online marketing experts, an SEO company can be a valuable addition to your business. Through honesty, communication, constant research and development, and most importantly, a cart load of hard work, the right company can help your business see excellent growth.
From as far back as the early 2000’s, ever increasing lists of articles have been plastered all over the internet, making the bold, yet somewhat misguided statement that Search Engine Optimisation is in fact, dead. According to many more recent posts, the untimely fall of Search Engine Optimisation, (often known by its acronym, SEO) was due in significant part to the rise of the young upstart, Social Media. It is certainly true that social media continues to expand at a huge rate, and is becoming ever more important to businesses of all sizes, however, this does not mean that social media marketing has or will destroy SEO.
Each year, people spend increasingly larger amounts of time on the internet as it becomes more and more accessible through mobile web and applications. The continuing rise in popularity of social media can be directly linked to this. Users can access their social media accounts wherever they go due to the availability of mobile web, and it could be argued that this in turn has influenced more businesses to embrace social media marketing, as they can reach their target audience at all times.
It is true that although SEO has not died, it has changed over the years, and will continue to do so. As search engines have changed, SEO has in turn has had to adapt and evolve. Overlord of all that is search, Google, has continued to change its ranking tactics over time to reflect patterns of search. With the colossal rise of social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and its own Google+, Google has changed the ranking weight of backlinks to have more emphasis towards social media.
Some may argue that Google Penguin, the latest change of search ranking strategies has helped to close the curtain firmly behind SEO, however, SEO can’t die. There is no ‘dead’ in the world of technology. There are merely continuous versions and incarnations. Rather than swinging its leg wildly at the bucket, SEO continues to evolve and adapt. Social media platforms do not challenge SEO; they influence it.
Though there will continue to be changes to search and social media, and other new technologies will continue to expand, Search Engine Optimisation will continue to thrive and transform. As long as there is Search, there will always be SEO, and there will always be search. People want to know more and more as fast as possible.
If you would like to learn more about Search Engine Optimisation, then feel free to visit www.seo-it-right.co.uk.
Very Useful video produced by Google for new start-up companies venturing into the world of on-line marketing. Maile Joined Google in 2005, Maile works closely with Google’s Search and Webmaster Tools teams as a Developer Programs Tech Lead. Her goal is to support and advocate on behalf of all site owners.
Take a look:
As we begin another New Year and think what we are trying to achieve for our business it is worth revisiting the basics of Search Engine Optimisation. Search Engine Optimisation (usually known as SEO) is now an essential part of marketing for any business. Making sure traffic is coming to your website is vital to driving your business forward, bringing in new customers and keeping your current customers on board.
One of the foundations of good SEO is keyword research
. Good keyword research will help you to establish the words and phrases that people are using to find goods and services and making sure that they are placed throughout your website. If keywords are placed properly within your website then search engines such as Google and Bing will rank you highly for those words and your website will be displayed more prominently. The best possible outcome is for you website to appear on page one of a search. This inevitably means your website is more likely to be selected by the person doing the searching. All you need to do is convert that click into an order!
As a guide, any number of keywords can be selected but the more generic they are, the more competitive they are and the longer it could take to rank for them. For this reason it is more useful to select more specific keywords, which are not quite so competitive. A useful hint is to also utilise your local area and use a location as part of the keyword such as “gas engineer Sutton Coldfield”.
A reputable SEO company will be able to show you how highly particular keywords are ranked and suggest keywords that would work well for you. They can then select which keywords you would like to maximise. At SEO It Right we do this by writing fresh and original articles each month, using the keywords we have agreed with you. How many we work on depends on the package you choose with us, and we are able to be flexible with this as your needs change. Once those articles are written they are submitted to Google to index. This increases the number of backlinks your website may have which will increase your ratings
Keyword research is a vital tool in establishing your internet presence and using a good SEO company can really help you maximise your potential.
Posted by Frances Berry
Here at SEO it Right we are pleased to announce that we are the proud sponsor of the Boldmere Falcons under-7s football team. The bold black and white striped kit will be worn by the team of 10 enthusiastic football players at their away games, so the SEO it Right name will be seen on various football pitches in and around the Birmingham area every Sunday morning.
The under 7s team was set up in August 2012, but in that short time the lads have trained hard and have performed well in each of their matches. So far this season they have managed to win 4 of their games and lose just 2, an impressive record particularly as they are a relatively new team and they are all aged 6 or 7!
The boys train once a week with their manager, Callum Flanagan, who is just 17 years old but has high hopes for gaining a degree in Sports Management and one day becoming a Premiership Football manager himself. What a great way to start his career with this team of cheeky chappies!
On a personal note, my son Daniel is a member of the team (see the lad with the cheesy grin on the first row first left) and I would like to thank Adam and Fran for their contribution to the team. Without the generosity of these great local businesses, then junior sports teams would struggle to raise the funding for such professional looking kits and equipment.
Three cheers for SEO it Right and Boldmere Falcons!
To find out more about what SEO it Right do, take a look at our website or contact us to see how we can help your business to thrive online.
For all those cynics who spend their time decrying the lack of jobs and saying that graduates have no prospects we have news for you….SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the place to be! This vibrant industry can offer IT graduates a place to develop the skills they have learned at University and use this as a foundation to build a career in the exciting world of internet marketing.
If you don’t believe me take a look at this video about our very own SEO it Right graduate Ridwan and listen to his thoughts on working in this industry:
Working with Birmingham based Graduate Advantage has enabled SEO it Right to develop a team of well rounded individuals who are looking to expand their knowledge in IT and in particular online marketing.
SEO is all around us – we all search online to investigate new products or services, make a purchase, read the news or catch up with our friends so the positioning of websites in the search results is something that affects everyone that ever uses a PC, laptop, smartphone or mobile device. There is no getting away from the fact that online advertising will continue to grow along with the associated services such as social media, combine this with the fact that we are all trying to keep up with what the search engines demand and you have a fantastic industry to be involved in.
Many branches of IT are in decline but SEO is very much on the up so if you like a challenge and want to learn new things within an industry that caters for the creative and technical mind – search no further than search engine optimisation.
Thanks to Graduate Advantage for making this video as part of a wider project to encourage young people that there are fantastic employment opportunities out there.
Posted by Frances Berry.
Ever wondered what is (or what should be) behind the SEO process?
Well wonder no more as we have put together a visual explanation of what should go on behind the scenes at your SEO company
Create your own mind maps at MindMeister
Basically this gives you an idea to the key areas that should take place within any online marketing campaign – namely onsite SEO, offsite SEO and social interaction.
If you suspect that your SEO company is not doing some or all of these things then it is about time you asked them why! SEO is not a singular process it is a combination of many factors coming together and it is only through this combination of different aspects that websites can improve rankings and businesses can increase their online presence overall.
Posted by Frances Berry