Last night I had the pleasure of speaking at the first Optimise Oxford alongside Ned Poulter and Jono Alderson. Below are the slides that I presented along with a brief summary of it.
SEO isn’t dead, it’s evolving!
For several years we have been hearing that SEO is dead, and I do get a little fed up of it. SEO isn’t dying, it’s evolving. It’s growing up, we are becoming a more mature industry that is looking for long term growth, not short term results that lead to failure.
89 major algorithm updates in 4 years
Since the start of 2011 Google has released 89 major updates to it’s algorithm with the aim of improving the results provided to the user. These updates include the following:
First released in February 2011, there has been over 29 recorded updates to the Panda algorithm. The initial update affected 12% of english speaking search queries worldwide, and led to well known brands suffering.
Panda cracked down on websites with thin content, content farms and high ad-to-content ratio. Businesses such as eHow were hugely effected, taking traffic levels down to 10s of thousands from 100s of thousands.
First hit in April 2012, the Penguin update aimed at reducing many spam factors and affected an estimated 3.1% of English queries.
Those websites that were keyword stuffing, participating in link schemes, cloaking and had lots of duplicate content were penalised.
During this time, people also started to receive manual link notifications through Google Webmaster Tools (now Google Search Console). If you received these messages you were either going to be or were handed a manual penalty.
The first major rewrite of Google’s algorithm since ‘Caffeine’, Hummingbird was created to provided more meaning behind the search queries.
This change allowed more focus on understanding the billions of pages that are currently indexed through data markup and the expanded knowledge graph.
The Pigeon update focussed on looking at more useful, relevant and accurate search results.
This update bought the local ranking factors more in line with the traditional ranking factors. However, this update has made significant changes to the maps, location parameters and the local pack.
First announced in February, #Mobilegeddon launched on the 21st April 2015. With Google putting more emphasis on mobile users, the new mobile index put more weight on those websites that were mobile friendly.
This shouldn’t have been a major surprise to the majority of us, with over 2 billion smart phones used globally.
Although marketed as a huge change for the industry, the results were significantly lower than expected with only 4% of change recorded.
7 tips to stay ahead
Think like a brand
Regardless of the size of your business, you are a brand. So start thinking like one.
This can be done in a number of different ways including:
- Dominating page one of brand searches
- Encourage online reviews
- Register social media profiles
- Look after local search
Understand your audience
If you don’t know your audience type, then how can you market to them?
Using a mixture of surveys, persona information, social media and keyword research, you should be able to get a good understanding of who they are, and what they like.
Once you know this you can start to create marketing decisions based on user information.
Create content for each stage of the buying cycle
Content is an important part of any marketing plan. One key aspect from a search perspective is the user lands on the correct page for the search query that they have entered.
Although not easy, this can be done by understanding the intent behind the search and producing the correct content asset for that search. At White, we utilise the user journey flow below to identify the correct piece of content for each stage of the buying cycle.
This provides an easy to reference guide to what content is required based on the user’s intent.
Think about mobile
Mobile is more important than ever, and should be considered a must for your business. Although conversion continues to be higher through desktop, mobiles are a huge part of the research stage and are being used on the commute to work and in the evenings.
To check whether your website complies to the mobile requirements set out by Google, please visit the mobile friendly tool they have provided.
Invest in the marketing mix, not just SEO
It’s key that you supplement your SEO efforts with alternative marketing initiatives. You may create some really great content for your SEO campaign, but to get the very best results you should market it across all channels.
Methods such as email are still considered one of the best forms of marketing if you can get it right. Due to platforms such as MailChimp, email marketing has become an easy, yet cheap way of engaging with your audience.
Build for long term growth, not short term
People continue to want results now! That is the world that we live in, but we need to educate stakeholders that consistent and long term growth is a better way of building a business, than instant short term returns.
This means creating the right strategy, employing the right people, building and engaging with the right audience. This all takes time, but it will pay off with long term success, and not falling foul of search engine guidelines.