Erin Everhart – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Tue, 04 Oct 2016 18:04:20 -0400 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3 Using search marketing to amplify TV buys: SMX East 2016 /using-search-marketing-amplify-tv-buys-smx-east-2016-260178 Tue, 04 Oct 2016 18:04:20 +0000 http:/?p=260178 Columnist Erin Everhart provides key takeaways on a session from SMX East 2016 detailing the relationship between paid search and TV advertising.

The post Using search marketing to amplify TV buys: SMX East 2016 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>

In this session from SMX East 2016, “The New 1+1=3: Using Search Marketing to Amplify TV Buys,” Kerry Curran, Managing Director of Marketing Integration for Catalyst and Itir Aloba-Curi, Director of Advertiser Analytics and Insights for Bing Ads, talked about how we should be using search advertising the amplify the rest of our marketing efforts.

Consumer behavior

As consumers, we’re exposed to numerous advertising channels that are fighting for our attention every single day. This includes both traditional and online channels, but what are consumers actually accessing during the key moments that matter? When are they ready to make a purchasing decision?

During those key moments, consumers continue to turn to search to help guide their purchasing decisions. In a recent study Bing did with Forrester, about 49 percent of consumers view search engines as their number one source to research a purchase. Even more so, 74 percent of consumers really trust search engines, almost as much as they trust the website or the brand they’re researching.

Consumers use an overwhelming number of channels when researching, and they go back and forth between search and the other channels. That makes it hard for the advertiser to allocate budgets across all channels. While marketers see search as a channel, consumers don’t look at it that way. The see search as the key to their decision-making process.

So many horses in this omni-channel race

Search budgets to other channels

While 49 percent of people are using search in their decision, only 45 percent of marketers are leveraging search in their channel mix. That means 55 percent of marketers aren’t using search in their marketing campaigns. That’s a huge disconnect.

That makes fighting for more search budget hard because search isn’t a “sexy” channel. TV receives 3X the budget that search receives, and while it plays an important role in moving people down the funnel, we need to see a better balance across the media mix to allocate more budget, because the second-screen phenomenon is here.

using-search-marketing-to-amplify-tv-buys-by-kerry-curran-and-itir-alobacuri-15-638

Because so many people are using their smartphones or computers while watching TV, Bing found that there was a 50-percent decrease in branded searches when you turned off TV buys.

TV + search: actionable items

In order to measure the impact of a big TV buy to see search behavior, Bing and team turned to the mecca of marketing: the Super Bowl.

For example, during the infamous Budweiser “Lost Dog” commercial in 2015, the search engine a huge spike in related keywords in queries, not just around the King of Beers’ brand, but around the content in the commercial. In fact, most of that spike came from non-brand queries, so you can now capture the demand that the TV buys or your competitor’s TV buys are doing by beefing up paid search during those slots.

You can also test ad creative to be used on other channels with TV and search. For example, one of Bing’s credit card clients ran search along with a TV promo, and they took the ad messaging and keywords from their commercials and incorporated it into their search ads.

They found that while the ad copy was focused on “points,” consumers resonated with “rewards” more. When they switched the language, there was a 120-percent increase in impressions and a 16-percent increase in enrollments. They then took those findings to display and TV teams to incorporate that wording into their other channels.

In conclusion, there are four main takeaways when it comes to using search marketing to amplify your TV buys:

  1. Keywords. Bid on relevant keywords and target brand, non-brand.
  2. Creative. Test best ad copy and share with non-search teams.
  3. Flighting. Align paid campaigns with media flights.
  4. Conquesting. Plan campaigns to capitalize on competitor TV flighting and copy.

If you’re not doing the above, you can bet your competitors will be.

The post Using search marketing to amplify TV buys: SMX East 2016 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>
5 ways SEO and PR should be working together /5-ways-seo-pr-working-together-248528 Fri, 06 May 2016 14:35:06 +0000 http:/?p=248528 When it comes to digital marketing, SEO and PR go together like peanut butter and jelly. Columnist Erin Everhart explains how these two teams can combine forces to benefit each other and the business as a whole.

The post 5 ways SEO and PR should be working together appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>

With a newly integrated and and constantly evolving digital landscape, marketing and communication channels are working together more closely than ever before. Granted, you’ll see variations in how well this is actually executed based on your business structure and the channels themselves, but the fact is: Channels can’t exist in silos.

An easy collaboration exists between PR and SEO, now that good content and outreach is an integral part of SEO success — and those two things are something PR knows all too well. So how can these two different teams help each other reach the same business goal?

Education

Let’s start with the most obvious: education.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in your specialty bubble, so when you start working with folks on other teams with other specialties, it’s just as easy to forget that they don’t know what you know.

PR professionals aren’t taught about the impact that online earned media can have on SEO and keyword rankings, so before you dive in with your handful of requests, educate them on the hows and the whys. Do this in shorter sessions over a few weeks, rather than one long session, and most importantly, educate them on what they’ll be able to get out of the relationship.

This shouldn’t just be one-sided, though. Just like PR isn’t taught SEO, SEO isn’t taught PR, so reach out to your counterparts to better understand their jobs and their roles. For example, media outreach is just one portion of the job of an SEO and content marketer, but it’s an expertise your PR counterparts know and understand well.

Optimizing links in earned coverage

Next up: links. Your SEO team should be helping your PR team optimize the links in all of their earned media coverage — things like company press releases or non-paid stories. SEO can help choose links that have keywords that need a ranking boost, and they can also make sure PR is pulling the right URL to link to.

For example, at REI, if someone needed a link to “backpacking tents,” they might pull the URL generated from an internal search query (i.e. https://www.rei.com/search.html?q=backpacking+tents&ir=q%3Abackpacking+tents&page=1) instead of the landing page in the main navigation (https://www.rei.com/c/backpacking-tents). The internal search page isn’t indexed, so that link won’t provide any lift for that keyword. The same goes for any team that’s producing content that will include links.

But it’s not just getting links within PR coverage that’s important. SEO should also consult with PR to make sure any links from paid sponsorships are nofollowed to avoid any search engine penalty.

Managing media outreach

Influencer outreach is a critical component in any marketing strategy, and depending on the size of your company, there’s likely more than one team handling said outreach.

That makes things a little trickier because you don’t want multiple people from the same company reaching out to an influencer. It causes confusion with the blogger/writer/media manager/subject matter expert if they’re getting different requests from different people in the same company. 

To help eliminate some of that crossover, set guidelines for the different types of outreach that different teams will own. For example, your PR team should own the relationship with mass media outlets, while your content marketing team owns the relationships with bloggers and subject matter experts.

Share these lists and send potential contacts to other teams before you make contact to make sure a relationship doesn’t already exist. This can also help avoid any wasted time on pitching a source that isn’t responsive if the other team has already tried. GroupHigh is a great tool that can help you manage this outreach.

Aligning messages and stories

With multiple teams managing outreach, you’re bound to have multiple stories coming out around the same time. Have your SEO and PR teams (and any other teams who are responsible for creating content) align on the broader messaging and timing to ensure your brand is putting out the same theme of content and not mixing messages or promoting two different things at the same time.

This doesn’t need to be down to the specific topic; it’s more of a high-level guiding principle. Keep a content calendar that aligns with business priority and seasonality.

Sharing & amplifying content

Creating content is hard work (not to mention expensive work), and it’s something both content marketing and PR do extremely well for two extremely different audiences. Make your content word harder by sharing what’s already been created that other teams can pull from and repurpose.

For example, your content marketing team created an infographic for a third-party influencer who agreed it can be republished as long as there’s a link back to the original source. Your PR team can take that same infographic and pitch it out to their media sources, creating more links for the search team and an easy content placement for the PR team.

These combined efforts also allow both teams to influence more KPIs so they can better report how their activities are impacting multiple segments of the business. PR is likely eager to add tangible KPIs to their campaigns, and SEO has just expanded its team and impact without having to fight for additional resources, which we all know is a constant battle. PR can use keyword rank changes on pages they helped secure links to, and SEO can show how many more links or shares a piece of content got with PR’s amplification efforts.

It all comes down to communication when working with other teams that have different KPIs from yours. Meet weekly or biweekly with your counterparts to make sure each team is up to date on what the other is working on to eliminate duplication of work and collaboration on similar efforts.

The post 5 ways SEO and PR should be working together appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>
SMX West: Content, your brand and the battle for customers /smx-west-content-brand-battle-customers-243907 Tue, 08 Mar 2016 16:58:14 +0000 http:/?p=243907 When it comes to SEO, Wil Reynolds argues that we need to stop focusing on the algorithm and start focusing on the audience. Columnist Erin Everhart recaps his presentation from SMX West.

The post SMX West: Content, your brand and the battle for customers appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>

We talk a lot about content, but we don’t talk enough about the customers who consume our content. But that’s exactly what Wil Reynolds did for the 25 minutes he was on stage at SMX West last week. And truth be told, I could’ve sat there and listed to him for another 25.

How many times have you thought about the people behind the keywords? Or the people behind the algorithm changes? There’s a big disparity in what we spend most of our time thinking about and what we really should be thinking about. So, in order to become a better marketer, Reynolds challenged himself to think about marketing without using the internet.

News flash here, folks: Before Google existed, people still did marketing.

Reynolds read two books written by Claude Hopkins — “Scientific Advertising” and “My Life in Advertising” — in order to become a better marketer and, by extension, a better search marketer.

Understanding how and why people make purchasing decisions is an indisputable skill. Reynolds thinks it’s a better skill to have than understanding how Google works, and I agree with him. We can’t fathom a world without Google now, but it’s not far-fetched to think that Google isn’t always going to be the colossal juggernaut that it is now. If you understand the motivations that make people buy, you’re a better marketer overall, and you’ll be able to transfer those skills to any marketing channel.

“The best marketers understand people’s needs,” Reynolds said. “Keywords do that because they solve the problem that people have.”

Enter Amazon.

They’re everyone’s competitors, and they have a fiercely loyal following. Case in point: The Amazon Prime conversion rate is 74 percent. Yes, 74 percent! If you’re an Amazon Prime member, and you see Amazon in Google’s results, even if it’s not ranked No. 1, you are more likely to click on that listing because of loyalty. You are more likely to click on that listing because you want your stuff in two days.

Amazon isn’t stopping there. Enter Dash Buttons: The retail version of “never running out of gas,” Reynolds said.

9ijBpOx

Reynolds has an 11-month-old son — and in case you weren’t aware, 11-month-olds poop. A lot. Have you ever tried to put in your credit card number while a holding a crying, poop-covered baby? It’s just not possible.

With Amazon Prime and Dash Buttons, he doesn’t have to. With literally the push of a button, which you can put anywhere you need it, you’ll never run out of that select product. And it’ll get there within an hour. Amazon has bypassed mobile altogether. They’ve whittled a multi-step checkout process down to literally the push of a button.

What about the content?

What types of content do we have to create that will make people love our stuff?

Reynolds mentioned a great example of this: The Michelin Guide, which was started in 1901. Michelin makes tires, so why would they write a guide to restaurants? Because they’re encouraging people to go out and drive to things, and when you drive to things, your tires wear out. And when it comes to replacing things, we’re more likely to buy from a brand we know and trust. Michelin is that brand of tires. And even today, more than 100 years later, people are still looking to Michelin for restaurant recommendations.

“That’s content marketing at its finest,” Reynolds said. “That kind of loyalty is hard to disrupt.”

Just like Michelin did, stop and think about “the who.” Reynolds challenged the crowd to stop putting “the how” (i.e., the keyword or the channel) before “the who” you’re actually selling to. Or, as he put it, stop putting the algorithm before the audience.

A great tool for this is Answer The Public, where you can type in any keyword, and it will show you all the questions people ask around that word. That’s the type of information that should be driving your content strategy.

answer the public

SEO’s shrinking space on Google

Reynolds wrapped up his talk by telling people to stop complaining about Google taking away your organic real estate. You’re rarely going to find a SERP layout that isn’t cluttered with some combination of PPC ads, Shopping Ads, a Local Map, images or recent news articles.

Instead of complaining about it, learn to understand it. This is Google giving you direct insight into people’s intent for a particular query. For example, if you perform a search, and the majority of results are image based or from Pinterest, that means that people don’t want to buy — they want to be inspired. So if you’re the sole retailer shoving a product page down users’ throats for that query, your CTR is going to suffer, and your bounce rate is going to skyrocket.

Case in point: Reynolds had a client ranking No. 1 for a high-volume head term similar to “wedding dresses.” That sounds pretty great until he saw that they were only getting a five-percent CTR for that head term because of SERP changes.

We are living in a time where there is diminishing value for a top-ranking keyword, and we have to better understand the other parts that make up a SERP. Just take the image below, which features a SERP for the term “wedding dresses.” The area labeled “4” is organic search — the area labeled “1” is paid.

serp real estate 1

SERP layout for the query “wedding dresses”

You can complain that it’s not fair, but if you don’t start understanding how paid works, you’re not going to be a good search marketer. If you’re going to “own search,” you have to understand all types of search. We need to put more skills in our shopping cart.

Now, what’s really interesting is that just by adding an adjective to the query above — for example, “lace wedding dresses” — the amount of organic real estate almost doubles. This is why you can’t solely rely on your head keywords. You need to look to your queries that have more organic space, which will likely be more long-tail keywords.

serp real estate 2

SERP layout for the query “lace wedding dresses”

Stop fighting Google when they’re taking real estate from you, and start adapting your strategies to give consumers what they want. That’s how you start creating good content that people will actually read, remember and ultimately use to buy from you.

See Wil Reynolds’ full presentation here:

The post SMX West: Content, your brand and the battle for customers appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>
How TV (And Video) Influences Search Behavior /tv-video-influences-search-behavior-239793 Tue, 12 Jan 2016 14:47:06 +0000 http:/?p=239793 In a multi-screen world, you're competing not just for media placement, but for attention. Columnist Erin Everhart discusses how search marketers can use this to their advantage.

The post How TV (And Video) Influences Search Behavior appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>

We idealize that picturesque Friday night family time where Mom, Dad and their 2.5 kids fire up NBC on the one television in the house and snuggle in on the couch for 30 minutes or an hour of uninterrupted entertainment.

But that was when we only had access to one form of entertainment at a time. Multi-tasking wasn’t a thing. Marketers and advertisers only had to worry about competing against other marketers and TV advertisers. There were no second screens; some people didn’t even have one screen.

Now, it’s more like Mom, Dad, their 2.5 kids and their seven electronic devices are all watching a different TV show in different rooms of the house.

In 2015, Nielsen ran a study of more than 30,000 global respondents, and 58 percent of them said they browse the internet while watching video programming. Another 47 percent of them said they engage with social media while watching video programming.

Consumers don’t know how to be entertained by only one thing at a time anymore. We’re constant consumers of content, and that’s made it harder for marketers and advertisers.

Now, we’re not just competing with other marketers and advertisers. We’re competing with things that have never historically been competition, like video games, social media, news, text messages or Snapchats.

Sometimes, we’re even competing against ourselves — with other types of our own content on our other media channels. We’re not competing for media placement anymore — we’re competing for attention. And frankly, that’s an even scarier competition.

More Complicated Path To Purchase

Consumers today have a much more complicated path to purchase than they did five, or maybe even two years ago.

For example, I wanted a vacuum for Christmas, which is quite possibly the saddest thing I’ve publicly admitted, but that’s what happens when you become a homeowner.

A few years ago, here’s what my path to purchase might have looked like:

I go to Google and search “vacuums.” My eyes may catch a few brands I know, like Panasonic, but ultimately, I’m persuaded to click on a Kohl’s listing because it has a review score of 4.5 stars and it’s under $100.

tv-and-seo-1

I end up buying the vacuum from Kohl’s on that very same session, and of course, I sign up for an account so they can continue to send me more stuff.

That never happens these days.

In reality, my path to purchase got started when I was watching Jimmy Fallon one night, and I was looking at my dog-hair-infested carpet that I swore I had just vacuumed last week. That’s when a Roomba commercial came on.

I still went to Google, but I searched for “best vacuum cleaners” and read a blog article, a buying guide, a comparison post and a review post to start narrowing down my search. I got distracted by a text message. I checked Instagram. I then went to Reddit and read three different forums, including an AMA from a vacuum repair technician.

I then looked at 11 different websites where I could buy a vacuum, including brand websites like Hoover and Shark, discount/used websites like eBay or Craigslist and retailer websites like Costco and Amazon. I got bored after reading about vacuums for 45 minutes, so I went to Facebook — and that’s when the remarketing started.

tv-and-seo-2

The point? There is no such thing as a linear path to purchase anymore because users are influenced at any time of day by any particular medium that triggers something in their psyche that says, “Hey, I need that.”

Even as far back as 2012, Time Inc. found that during non-working hours, digital natives (adults under 30) were switching platforms every other minute. We’re not just marketing in a second-screen world — there’s a second, third and fourth screen. That has a tremendous impact on the way we optimize our search channels.

Making Digital & TV Work Together

Now that we know consumers are actively using offline and online media simultaneously, there are a couple of things to keep in mind to ensure your channels are working together rather than against each other.

Own The Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) & Increase Your Bids

Consumers aren’t necessarily going to remember your brand when they see your TV commercial; they’ll remember the product or solution, so you need to be sure you’re appearing in search results, both paid and organically, for both non-branded and branded keywords.

Because you’ll have more control with PPC in owning your SERPs, consider increasing your bids for both text ads and PLAs the 30 minutes before and after your TV commercials air to ensure you’re in front of consumers’ eyes when they go to search for additional information.

Advertise During Your Competitors’ TV Flights

In the above example, I didn’t want (or even consider) a Roomba when I decided I needed a vacuum. But it was their commercial that sparked the interest.

However, they weren’t anywhere to be found when I started my online research. Other brands capitalized on Roomba’s TV spot and captured the additional web traffic, and ultimately a sale, because they were running online advertising during a competitor’s TV spot.

Consistent Keywords

We’ve lived and breathed keywords since the dawn of SEO and PPC, but those keywords shouldn’t just be limited to your search marketing. Incorporate them in content across all of your marketing messaging to establish consistency. That’s what people will remember and ultimately search for.

For example, when McDonald’s decided to serve breakfast 24/7, they used “all day breakfast” (instead of “breakfast all day”) consistently across all of their marketing to support it.

Run Display Ads During Commercials

Instead of competing with content publishers for your audience’s attention, use it to your advantage. Run display ad campaigns during your TV slots on publishers’ sites where your users are surfing during commercial breaks.

Let’s End With Examples

You can find a ton of examples of TV and video spots that lead to increased web traffic for brands, from the likes of Dodge Durango and Ron Burgundy or the #EsuranceSave30 Super Bowl ad. There are two that stick out to me that did a superbly fantastic job, though.

Lincoln MKC & Matthew McConaughey 

Lincoln secured Matthew McConaughey to help promote their Lincoln MKC to a younger demographic and launched a series of TV commercials and YouTube videos that eventually would turn into a series of spoofs and parodies.

tv-and-seo-5

Not only did Lincoln generate more search interest for their MKC, but Google suggests “Lincoln” as the fourth option that people might be looking for when they search for “Matthew McConaughey.”

tv-and-seo-6

Most impressively, of all the cars Lincoln sold in October 2014 (the month after the campaign), 25 percent of them were MKCs.

Old Spice Smell Like A Man

A Super Bowl campaign that didn’t even air during the Super Bowl, Old Spice took to YouTube to create the (arguably) most successful YouTube video campaign we’ve ever seen.

tv-and-seo-4

What I love about this is not just the massive spike in search trends that Old Spice saw during the videos, but that after leveling out, more people were searching for Old Spice one, two and even three years later after the campaign aired than they were prior to the campaign launching.

tv-and-seo-3

There’s no doubt about how much search plays into a customer’s path to purchase, but it’s not the only medium they rely on.

The delineation between online and offline marketing will continue to shrink, and we need to be pretty prepared so all of our channels are working together, rather than against each other.

The post How TV (And Video) Influences Search Behavior appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>
How To Prep For The Pending Penguin Update & Ensure You’re Penalty Free In 2016 /preparing-penguin-make-sure-youre-penalty-free-2016-235834 Tue, 17 Nov 2015 15:30:47 +0000 http:/?p=235834 The next Penguin update is coming soon, according to a Google spokesperson. Columnist Erin Everhart outlines what you can do to prepare.

The post How To Prep For The Pending Penguin Update & Ensure You’re Penalty Free In 2016 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>

Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, confirmed on Twitter that we’ll be graced with the next Penguin update before the end of 2015.

This means that all of those webmasters who were hit by the last Penguin update (in December 2014, mind you) now have the chance of recovery, since historically, this update hasn’t been refreshed automatically.

This next Penguin update should also be a real-time version, so as Google detects spammy links, sites may be impacted immediately — and when spammy links are removed, those sites may see a more immediate recovery.

While I want to believe in my heart of hearts that spammy links aren’t an issue anymore, and the whole industry has adopted above-the-board, clean linking strategies, I know that’s not the case. With every algorithm update comes a host of winners and losers, and I’m sure this next Penguin release will be no different.

I know auditing your link profile isn’t always top-of-mind, especially if things are running smoothly, but now’s a great time to do any last-minute checks to make sure you’re prepared for Penguin.

Even if there wasn’t an impending algorithm update, it’s never a bad thing to keep a sharp eye on your link profile. Spam could be happening, even if you’re not directly intending it to, and “I didn’t know” isn’t good enough to get you out of  the penalty box.

Anchor Text Distribution

I’m sure I’m beating a dead horse with this one, but you should know by now that all of your links shouldn’t include exact-match anchor text. Vary your external links by brand, URL, long-tail keywords and non-descriptive keywords.

There’s no exact percentage distribution that you should live by with this one, but in general, you should have the most branded anchor text, since that’s likely how most people would like to find you.

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

Sudden Spikes & Too Many Referring Pages

When you’re analyzing your backlinks at the highest level, you want to look for anything out of the ordinary, and that will usually show itself as sudden spikes in your line graphs.

Take a look at these backlink profiles for two different websites. (Names undisclosed for privacy reasons, but I assure you they are real domains.)

backlinks

Pink Line: Total Referring Domains | Blue Line: Total Referring Pages

Site B has steadily been increasing their Total Referring Domains for the past 12 months. They’ve also appeared to be cleaning up some of their backlinks, as their Total Referring Pages started decreasing, meaning that they probably had a couple of websites link to them from every single page of their domain (a red flag for spammy practices, in Google’s eyes).

Site A has also been steadily increasing their Total Referring Domains, but that sudden spike of Total Referring Pages between June and July gives me pause. Anything that could bring that sharp an increase over that short a period of time will likely catch Google’s attention (for the worse), since it’s unlikely that happened naturally.

It’s hard for me to say what’s really going on just by looking at the graph, since that doesn’t tell the whole story. But it looks like they started getting site-wide links on a few of their referring domains, which again is a clear signal for spammy practices.

Disavowing Links

When it comes to disavowing your links, you’ll probably find conflicting information on whether or not you should go down this route.

On the one hand, it makes sense to clearly tell Google that you had nothing to do with these spammy links pointing to your site. That said, disavowing is not a substitute for manually getting the links removed, so there’s some question if it’s worth going to the trouble just to bring something to attention that may not even be on Google’s radar yet.

If you do decide to disavow your links, John Lincoln has a great write-up of how to do this. While he focused specifically on a manual penalty and not an algorithm update, there’s a lot of overlap in the process itself.

Note: Since Penguin is an algorithm update and not a manual penalty, you don’t need to worry about submitting a reconsideration request in order to see any benefits when the next Penguin rolls out.

Optimize Your Internal Links

External links rightfully get the most attention with anything Penguin-related, but you shouldn’t ignore the signals you’re giving Google with your internal links. These might not have a big impact on your rankings, but they do heavily influence how search engines crawl your site.

These are links that you have control over; you can help dictate to search engines which pages have higher importance and which pages are thematically related to one another. Your internal links can also be subject to over-optimization, just like your external links.

Keep these things in mind to keep a clean internal link profile:

  • Vary your anchor text with non-descriptive text, not just exact-match keywords.
  • Link related pages together. Ask, “Would someone looking at Page A also be interested in Page B?”
  • Try to maintain as much of a hierarchy as possible.
  • Match your consumer-facing links to your canonicals and what’s in your XML sitemap.

Tools

You could feasibly do all of this manually, but why on earth would you, when we’re lucky to work in an industry with oodles of tools available that make our jobs so much easier?

In no particular order (and this is by no means an exhaustive list of everything out there), these are some of my favorites to use:

  • Link Research Tools. I’ll admit I’m still navigating the full potential of this tool, but I’m already blown away. It includes link monitoring so you see spikes in backlinks, competitor research, link review to find spammy links and so much more. Word of wisdom: This runs pretty pricey, so probably best for agency or enterprise level.
  • Ahrefs. For a quick look at trended backlinks, you can use Ahrefs. It allows you to test your URLs a few times, and it comes with a 14-day free trial before moving into the paid model. It’s a fast way to see if there’s been a quick spike in your backlinks profile.
  • Check My Links. This is a Chrome extension that scans your pages for any broken links.
  • Deep Crawl or Screaming Frog. You need a good crawler to get the most accurate raw data from your site. Depending on the size of your site, either of these is a fantastic option.
  • SERPs Volatility. I love this because it shows high/low days of ranking changes, so you can easily spot if something is happening industry-wide. Similarly, Moz keeps an updated list of recent algorithm updates that’s good to keep handy when you’re relating traffic changes back to algorithm updates.

The post How To Prep For The Pending Penguin Update & Ensure You’re Penalty Free In 2016 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>
How To Manage Your Old & Outdated Content /manage-old-outdated-content-226195 /manage-old-outdated-content-226195#respond Tue, 25 Aug 2015 14:09:34 +0000 http:/?p=226195 Fresh content is important when it comes to SEO, but Erin Everhart reminds us that there's value in updating old content, as well.

The post How To Manage Your Old & Outdated Content appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>

Last month, Google announced that it’s rolling out Panda 4.2 over the next couple of months. It’s the first refresh in almost 10 months of the now-infamous algorithm update that’s partially responsible for the “content is king” mantra that’s swept the search industry.

That’s great news for anyone who was hit last September and has worked to remedy their low-quality content; your hard work should be rewarded as your site slips back into its organic positions. But with every update, it undoubtedly puts some webmasters in a tailspin thinking they’ll be on the losing side of things.

Every time a Panda refresh is announced and the biggest losers are tallied, I can’t help but wonder how it’s even possible there are sites out there still putting out crappy content. Maybe it’s my journalism background, but I’ve always felt that creating irrelevant, spammy content just for the sake of a link or a ranking was never an option; there was just no point.

However, given all the stir Panda updates have caused, it seems I am in the minority on that stance.

Is Your Site As Panda-Proof As You Think?

But spammy, keyword-stuffed and low-quality content is not the only reason why webmasters and content strategists get a little antsy around Panda updates.

Even if you know you have good content, it makes you pause and question all the content on your site: What did I miss? What will Google find on my site? And while you should be evaluating your site’s content regularly, I know I’m not alone in admitting that it doesn’t always happen. Guilty.

One of the common issues you find during a content audit is “dead” content. Dead content is old or outdated content that at one point was useful to your user but may not be helpful any more.

Depending on how much content you have, it could also be slowing down your site, causing Google to crawl and index these less important pages rather than focusing on your more important pieces.

It happens a lot: You focus so much on creating new content that you forget about the content you created a year (or longer) ago. And it happens quickly; blog posts or articles get moved off the home page, tweets stop going out, links stop coming in. So what do you do with this dead content?

Don’t Delete It — Optimize It

New content is necessary, but it takes far more time to create something new than it does to update and optimize something old. That old content is probably still ranking well, but it’s outdated — technology has changed, new information has been presented, or there’s a better way to accomplish the same task.

There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re re-optimizing dead content:

  1. Don’t Create A New URL. Many would create an entirely new page to replace the outdated content to get more pages added to the index. That works, but I’d prefer to update the existing content to keep all the authority in one place. That URL ranks well for a reason. Why create a new page and start all over? You also eliminate competing with yourself by keeping all updates on one URL.
  2. Update Your Keyword Research. When you optimize, consider any new keywords that you could incorporate to capture net new traffic. The way people search changes every day, so it’s likely they’re searching new keywords but wanting the same information.
  3. Optimize Your Call To Action. Since you’re updating your content to be better for your users and perform better in search engines, make sure to think through what you want people to do after they’ve read your blog post (or ebook, services page, how-to guide, or whatever form your content takes). Do you have a new offer? Do you have a newly implemented email database users can sign up for? New product or service to promote? The key is figuring out how to turn that passive reader into an active member in your lead funnel.
  4. Start Promoting It Again. Once that content is more relevant, filter it back into your promotion schedule: Create a Facebook post, push it out through Twitter, and include it in your next email campaign. If it’s an important enough post — e.g., it hits on a current trending topic or is an exhaustive resource guide — even consider giving it some placement on your home page or other areas of your site.

OK, Sometimes It Needs To Be Deleted

A lot of your content can be updated and optimized, but there’s some content that just doesn’t need to exist anymore. These are things like:

  • Old products or services you no longer offer
  • Former employee/executive profiles
  • Job postings
  • Similar or duplicate blog posts

Here are some tips for handling these types of pages:

  1. 301 Redirect. In most cases, a 301 redirect is going to be your best choice for content that needs to be deleted. Point old products or services to their newer counterpart; drive people to your careers page if a specific job is no longer available; choose the blog post that has the most page views or better rankings and redirect the duplicate to it.
  2. Custom Messaging. You don’t want to go too crazy on the directs, though — every redirect puts more load on your servers, thus slowing down your site, and that will add up. In some instances, you can simply add some custom messaging and related links to other places users could go if they land on your old content. For example: “This position is currently filled, but check out our Careers page for more openings.” This works particularly well with temporarily out-of-stock products. Don’t delete the URL if the product will become available again in the future, but show comparable items to help fill the user experience.

There’s a lot you can do to make sure your old content is still working for you, but remember not to forgo creating new content to update your old content. You need a healthy mix of both tactics to continually provide the best experience for your users and to keep your content fresh for search engines.

The post How To Manage Your Old & Outdated Content appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>
/manage-old-outdated-content-226195/feed 0
SEO Can’t Always Get What It Wants — Or Can It? /seo-cant-always-get-wants-can-223953 /seo-cant-always-get-wants-can-223953#respond Tue, 30 Jun 2015 16:13:41 +0000 http:/?p=223953 SEO doesn't exist in a vacuum. Contributor Erin Everhart shares tips for getting other company stakeholders on board to achieve SEO success.

The post SEO Can’t Always Get What It Wants — Or Can It? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>

Everyone can, and probably has, argued over what part of working in SEO is the hardest. From the frequent algorithm updates and never really knowing what Google is thinking to constantly explaining yourself to executives and fighting tooth and nail to correct our bad reputation, we have plenty of options to choose from.

Personally, my nomination for one of the most difficult challenges is managing the push and pull within organizations to ensure SEO gets the resources it needs to achieve results.

As an SEO, you don’t really “own” any one digital asset, but everything in digital has an impact on your organic search traffic. It’s a disturbing situation because when something changes — even if you have nothing to do with it and perhaps don’t even know about it — you’re still on the hook when your organic traffic tanks.

So, how do you work with other teams to get what you want?

First, a few generalities that apply to anyone you’re working with:

  1. Speak their language. Throwing out acronyms and industry jargon is going to leave your listeners confused.
  2. Compromise. Don’t come in guns blazing demanding it’s your way or no way. Being a good business partner requires a bit of give and take so people actually want to work with you again.
  3. Talk on their terms. The easiest way to get what you want is to show how it’s actually going to benefit the other person. Focus on how whatever change will impact their KPIs, not just organic traffic.

Now that we’ve got the basics covered, how can SEOs work with specific departments so everyone gets what they want?

C-Suite

Company adoption of SEO ultimately comes from the top down; if your C-suite is on board and understands the value, you’ll have an easier time working in the weeds with the people who actually make the changes.

To do that, prove the value of SEO without drowning them in data. We have tons of metrics at our beck and call, but, in most cases, the only numbers C-suites really care about are traffic and revenue. Focus on overall business impact, not just how what you’re proposing affects organic traffic and revenue.

You’ll make even more impact if you can show competitors gaining more market share, because no C-suite wants to be second place to direct competition.

UX/Design Department

Designers don’t want to compromise their design for SEO, and they don’t want to design something solely for search engines. And rightfully so. Your site should first and foremost serve the needs of your users, but too often we’re forgetting that search engines are primary users of your site — probably the biggest ones in terms of how many times they access your site.

Each time you speak with your design team, watch your wording: Avoid things like “designing for SEO” or “building it for bots” because you’re only perpetuating the stereotype that SEOs don’t care about users.

The likeliest chance of conflict comes over content. Everyone knows you need live text on your web pages if you expect them to rank, but the design argument is that users don’t read content, and all it does is push down the important stuff (images, products, CTAs) that’s aimed at spurring people to make a purchasing decision.

The most popular compromise is the eyesore of a content block at the bottom of a page.

Sure, great for SEO, but this is useless for everyone else.

Yeah, I’m sure everyone is reading this 11px sized font.

Sure, that content block is great for SEO, but it’s a sub-par user experience, and it’s definitely not the only way to rank for competitive terms. There are plenty of companies doing good design that have great SEO without that damned content block:

  • Otterbox ranks for “iPhone cases”
  • Target ranks for “bathing suits”
  • Best Buy ranks for “digital cameras”

The point is there are plenty of ways to to have well-designed engaging site that kicks butt in search engines, using things like web fonts, expandable divs, mouse-overs on images to show content, and small chunks of content scattered throughout the page rather than one large block at the end.

There’s no silver bullet solution, and what works for one site may not work for yours. Thankfully, designers love testing even more than SEOs, so approach your suggested changes not like, “This is what we have to do,” but more like, “Hey, I think this could help; let’s see how our users and search engines react.”

Present a couple of design options, put them out in the wild for six to eight weeks, and see what improves your positioning most while also increasing your overall engagement.

Copywriters

Whether you believe all SEOs should know how to write by themselves, or you rely on external copywriters, we all know SEO can’t exist without content. (Remember, content doesn’t have to be blog posts or marketing copy. Title tags and meta descriptions, two things which SEOs historically “own,” are pretty important content pieces for SEO, too.)

Copywriters are pretty much the sorcerers of today’s digital landscape as most everything that exists online includes some form of written content. It’s a primary driver for search engine rankings, and it’s the number one way users interact with brands, whether that involves content in emails, social posts, articles or product descriptions.

Copywriters are also always looking for things to write about, and that’s exactly where SEO steps in. SEOs have a pulse on what users are searching for and should be steering the content topics. That lifts some of the burden off the copywriters in coming up with the ideas, while also providing new organic entry points across your website.

Development & IT Teams

There are obvious elements that make for good SEO (like design and content), but there are even more nuances when you pull back the curtain and look at a site’s foundation. If your site isn’t built correctly, no amount of good design and quality content will bring you organic search visibility. Your developers are your lifelines, and you need to make sure you’re their favorite SEO.

This is the one team where speaking their language makes the most impact. Whether you’re working with network support or programmers, you’re interacting with highly specialized and highly technical people. If you’re not familiar with how websites are built and don’t understand the relevant jargon, you’ll get lost in their conversation.

You don’t have to physically know how to do it, but you better know how to clearly explain it. This makes a huge impact when you’re requesting work or putting in a JIRA story. Are all the requirements there? Did you note specifically where on the site you need the change to go? Will they be able to pick up the story and successfully complete the task without having to track you down for more information?

Even with the SEO and digital landscape changing every day, I don’t think there will ever be a time when we — not just SEOs, but anyone working in digital — can do our jobs in a silo. We’ll always have to rely on other teams to meet our KPIs. So, what’s worked for you? How have you been able to interact with other team members to do what’s best for the business and what’s best for SEO?

The post SEO Can’t Always Get What It Wants — Or Can It? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>
/seo-cant-always-get-wants-can-223953/feed 0
5 SEO Problems Plaguing E-Commerce Websites /5-seo-problems-plaguing-e-commerce-websites-221757 /5-seo-problems-plaguing-e-commerce-websites-221757#respond Tue, 02 Jun 2015 13:36:39 +0000 http:/?p=221757 Columnist Erin Everhart addresses some of the unique challenges facing e-commerce sites when it comes to search engine optimization.

The post 5 SEO Problems Plaguing E-Commerce Websites appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>

Search engine optimization (SEO) is challenging, but SEO for large e-commerce websites is a different kind of beast.

Not only are you dealing product inventory and adding new pages constantly, but you’re also not the only one responsible for the website.

The larger the site, the more hands you have on it — and most of those hands will have little to no SEO knowledge. This means they won’t understand how their changes could impact organic search performance.

Even the small changes can have a big impact. Large sites are fighting tooth and nail for visibility on search engine results pages, and the minor things that help SEO — adding in ALT tags, proper structuring of your header tags, etc. — could be the difference between a No. 2 and a No. 1 ranking, which could easily be worth an extra $100,000 in revenue.

Let’s take a look at some common SEO problems plaguing e-commerce websites and how we can fix them.

Poor Product Descriptions

Product descriptions are the bane of every e-commerce site’s existence. It’s time-consuming to create unique descriptions for each item you sell, but this is necessary if you expect your products to rank.

Users also rely on these descriptions before purchasing said product. A product image alone isn’t going to cut it for getting your users to buy a product, and search engines can’t see that image anyway.

The problem: Lots of things could be causing problems with your product descriptions. For example:

  • You’re using the manufacturer’s product description (which is given to every retailer who sells that product).
  • There is duplicate content where you have different versions of the same product.
  • Your product pages have no content or very thin content.

The solution: There’s no easy way to say this, folks. Write unique product descriptions. Yes, that’s right — for every single product you carry.

Unoptimized Product Pages

SEO is largely a top-of-funnel marketing channel. Users are still in the research phase of their purchasing cycle and tend to search as such, relying on more broad keywords (such as “TVs” or even “LED TVs”) to help them determine what specific product they want.

That means most SEOs want to drive traffic to the category or product listing pages rather than individual product pages.

While the broader terms will drive most of your traffic, you can’t forget about the users who already know what specific product they want — for example, “Samsung 55in LED TV” or even just the model number, “FH6030.”

The problem: Not only are you cutting off your traffic potential by neglecting these long-tail keywords, but you’re missing out on what could likely be an immediate conversion point. What makes an unoptimized product page:

  • No product reviews
  • Poor keyword targeting
  • Missing image ALT tags
  • Thin content

The solution: Thin content can easily be remedied by including product reviews, unique product descriptions, and detailed product specifications.

Product reviews are key here — not only do they better optimize your product pages, they also help visitors to make a purchase decision. Make sure your product reviews are SEO-friendly and can be indexed.

With your keyword targeting, make sure you frame your product pages around the specific product your users could be searching for. This means including brand name, model number, color (if applicable) and size (if applicable) in your product names.

Placement of each of these attributes matter. There’s a big search difference between “Samsung 55 inch LED TV” and “55 inch Samsung LED TV.”

seo ecommerce keywords

Improper Internal Linking

With so many people making changes, large e-commerce websites often have inconsistent internal linking. Copywriters, designers, project managers and social media marketers all will be grabbing site links to use in their respective projects, and they’re likely not pulling the same ones (or even the right ones).

The problem: Instead of going through the main navigation to pull a product listing link, they’ll just search for that product via internal search and pull that link, which is likely noindexed and nofollowed.

Not only are you not getting value from that internal search page, but you’re giving search engines mixed signals on the best URLs to rank.

The solution: Educate your respective teams on the importance of consistent linking and explain why it’s necessary to link to the URL that we want to rank in search engines (most of the time, the main navigation link).

If your canonical tags are set up properly, have them pull the canonical rather than the front-facing link.

Not Managing Your URL Parameters

URL cleanliness is an overarching problem with e-commerce sites, as most have dynamically generated URLs rather than (or in addition to) static, keyword-relevant URLs.

While SEOs try to limit the URL parameters in their strings, it’s a necessary evil on large e-commerce sites. Parameters will exist, but you have to manage them correctly.

The problem: Relying solely on Google Webmaster Tools Google Search Console to configure your URL parameters, which could create handfuls of duplicate content without you even realizing it.

managing URL parameters

 

The solution: Google has come a long way in reading and parsing URL information, and they do it get it right sometimes, but the fact of the matter is that you know your URL structure better than a bot.

Make sure you’re configuring these parameters correctly by telling Google which parameters they need to crawl and which to ignore.

No SEO & SEM Collaboration

SEO and SEM teams just aren’t playing nicely. This isn’t just an e-commerce problem; it’s happening everywhere.

However, e-commerce websites have a lot more money on the line to lose when these two marketing channels are going at each other with battle axes rather than sharing their data and collaborating.

The problem: There are two big things happening when SEO and PPC don’t talk to each other.

  • You’re missing out on a huge remarketing opportunity.
  • You’re probably losing money from bidding on the wrong terms.

The solution: Simply put, make an effort to better integrate your SEO and SEM teams. SEO teams can rely on SEM teams for the keyword data that Google secure search took away. SEM teams can better spend their budgets by knowing what research-based keywords we’re already organically ranking for that have a low PPC conversion rate.

If you see you’re losing money on a particular keyword because it’s just not converting, stop bidding on that term and funnel efforts into organic search.

This by no means is an extensive list — you’ve still got duplicate content, slow crawl rate, and local listing management issues to deal with — but this should give you a good start on getting your site optimized.

What are some of the other problems that e-commerce websites are prone to, and how can we fix them?

The post 5 SEO Problems Plaguing E-Commerce Websites appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>
/5-seo-problems-plaguing-e-commerce-websites-221757/feed 0
Generalists Vs. Specialists In SEO: What’s The Best Approach? /generalists-vs-specialists-seo-214695 /generalists-vs-specialists-seo-214695#respond Tue, 07 Apr 2015 13:11:39 +0000 http:/?p=214695 In a follow-up to her last column, Erin Everhart takes on the question of whether it's better for search engine optimization professionals to be highly specialized in SEO or more of a jack-of-all-trades digital marketer.

The post Generalists Vs. Specialists In SEO: What’s The Best Approach? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>

A couple of months ago, I talked about how the role of an SEO professional is undergoing a serious transformation.

Yes, our primary job is still to drive organic traffic and increase organic revenue — but the way that we do that now has changed so much that we’ve had to acquire additional skills in order to make that happen. Nowadays, you have to think and act like a content developer, user experience advocate, digital strategist, creative marketer and cheerleader if you’re going to survive in SEO.

That piece caused a bit of a stir, and it sparked some crucial discussions with a lot of people I deeply respect. Two key trends popped up in particular:

  1. Do we specialize in one facet of digital, or has the industry changed so much that we’re forced to be cross-functional?
  2. Should SEO be considered marketing? Are there SEO professionals who don’t want to adapt, who don’t want to see SEO as marketing?

Two Sides To SEO

Joe Hall wrote a rebuttal talking about how our job as an SEO should only be SEO, citing some great case studies for tactics that are “purely SEO” — things like redirects, URL structure, code review on a full AJAX site, and Panda/Penguin cleanup.

Joe’s article isn’t wrong. Mine isn’t either. But neither one of them, as individual articles, tells the full story of what SEOs are completely responsible for in 2015. Combined, they’re getting close.

Are there some instances when you can just implement tech improvements for a site-wide increase in organic traffic? Yes. Are there some instances when you can just implement digital marketing tactics for a site-wide increase in organic traffic? Yes. Are there even more instances when you have to do both? Hell yes.

You have to at least have a thorough understanding of how both sides operate to survive in this industry. The problem is that while everyone is demanding marketers to be more technical/analytical, I don’t see that same plea for the tech folks to think like marketers.

And that’s not entirely fair. It’s just making the gap larger, where both sides think their way is the only way to do SEO: marketing (content development, UX researcher, digital strategist) or technical (URL structure, code review, penalty cleanup).

The fact of the matter is that as long as Google keeps changing its algorithm, SEOs will have to keep changing their tactics.

Generalists vs Specialists

That led us to debating between generalists and specialists: What’s better? Do we silo ourselves into doing one thing really, really well while outsourcing or passing on referrals for what we can’t accomplish? Or do we become cross-functional digital marketers that have the ability to work across many different media and tactics?

Michelle makes a good point: Hiring a specialist increases your likelihood that that one thing you hired them for will be done correctly. And that’s probably the right course of action when it comes to penalty cleanups. But, what about when companies are more general and just need to increase their organic search traffic? Do they have to hire two people do to the job of what was once just one person?

That’s not entirely economical, and I think most companies are looking for those cross-platform digital marketers that understand enough about many different channels rather than a lot in one channel because that’s where the entire digital industry is going, whether you call it T-shaped marketer or “general specialists,” a term I adopted from Marty Weintraub of aimClear.

That said, I don’t know of many other industries that demand understanding of such competing different skill sets, and that’s where the problem lies. Creative marketing skills and technical skills couldn’t be further away on the scale of “if you’re good at this, you’ll also be good at this.” They require such drastically different ways of thinking, and it’s absurd to expect — or even ask — for one side to learn the other’s skills.

Is SEO Marketing?

Ten years ago, I don’t know if you could consider SEO “real marketing.” I mean that in the sense that it primarily involved keyword optimization and code structure of your website. (I’ll look to the SEOs that have been doing this for 10 years to comment on what things were actually like in 2005.)

The “real marketing” that Ryan was referencing really hit the forefront when Google took a stronger stance on fighting webspam with Panda and Penguin updates. Google improved its algorithm to be more user focused, so we had to think more like marketers in addition to covering our bases with the on-site fundamentals. But because SEO became the trendy thing to do, because it became a critical skill that companies were looking for when hiring digital professionals, we had people claiming they knew SEO when they weren’t really qualified to be making that claim at all.

So, where does that leave us?

First, the easy one: Marketing is educating potential customers about your product or service and persuading them to buy it, so of course SEO is marketing, and it’s quickly becoming one of the biggest traffic-driving channels out there. If your organization doesn’t see the value of SEO or view it is an actual marketing tactic, either they need to change their viewpoint or you should find an organization that does.

Second, “good SEO” will never exist without a mixture of marketing and technical skills. There are too many case studies proving that you can’t just focus only on the technical architecture or the content strategy of a website. You will never succeed.

But in terms of what’s better professionally, knowing one thing really well or being cross-functional? I see both sides, and there’s not as much of a clear, cut-and-dry answer.

What do you think? Are we better off being highly specialized in one tactic, or being able to implement across many digital tactics?

The post Generalists Vs. Specialists In SEO: What’s The Best Approach? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>
/generalists-vs-specialists-seo-214695/feed 0
In 2015, Your Job As An SEO Isn’t Actually SEO /job-seo-2015-isnt-actually-seo-214150 /job-seo-2015-isnt-actually-seo-214150#respond Tue, 10 Feb 2015 14:00:29 +0000 http:/?p=214150 Columnist Erin Everhart explains how the role of the search engine optimization (SEO) professional is undergoing a major transformation.

The post In 2015, Your Job As An SEO Isn’t Actually SEO appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>

OK, I’ll admit right now I wrote that title just to get clicks. It’s not my proudest moment, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t done it before.

Regardless, the title is accurate — in a sense. Yes, you are still responsible for driving organic traffic. That isn’t going anywhere. But because the way to drive organic traffic isn’t anything like the way we used to drive organic traffic, SEOs have to become more cross-functional. These days, when you say you “do SEO,” you really do about a million other things that historically aren’t considered SEO.

If that’s the case, then what else is in our job description?

Content Developer

This part of an SEO’s job should not come as a surprise to you given how ingrained “content is king” has become in our heads.

There is no way you can rank well in search engines without good content, and I see more copywriters being directly integrated into the SEO team rather than living on a different team. In many cases, the requirements of being a non-technical SEO now include content writing.

Quality content can be hard to create; it’s not exactly something you can teach. There’s no formula you can follow (although Nate Dame does have a pretty good list of what makes quality content), and it does take a lot of time (I’ve spent 15 minutes on one Facebook post), so don’t assume that good content is something we just have lying around.

User Experience Advocate

SEO and user experience (UX) got off on the wrong foot, and I blame SEO. The spammy things we were doing years ago to manipulate the algorithm were the furthest thing from a good user experience, so it’s no wonder UX professionals hated us.

Things are totally different now. Search engines want to see what users want to see.

Though Google hasn’t come out to say that good UX impacts your search rankings, there’s a lot of speculation that it will be adding mobile UX into its algorithm. That means that if you want to drive more organic traffic to a page, that page has to provide a good user experience.

Digital Strategists

Over the past year or so, I’ve noticed a fundamental change in how SEOs operate — specifically the marketing side of SEO, not the technical side.

We’re becoming more thinkers than doers. Instead of taking direction from what others have decided will change on the site, we’re getting more involved in shaping that conversation. If you’re not, then you need to push to be.

We spend so much time on the site and so much time obsessing over every data point on how customers are using our site that it’s completely fair to say we know what’s best for the site. Of course, I’m not advocating for SEOs to be the sole decision maker, but SEO today means playing a larger role in overall site strategy, and that’s something we need to be prepared for.

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people who view SEO in a silo, so it’s up to us to not pigeonhole ourselves into just keyword research or title tag updates.

Creative Marketer

It used to be so easy to get links: a few directory listings, some press release submissions, a handful of articles posted to EzineArticles. Mindless work, yes, but boy was it easy.

There is definitely no such thing as easy link now. Every link, whether manually or organically acquired, requires a lot of thought and a little bit of work, and we have to be more creative in the way we’re getting links.

Instead of “building links,” we’re building things people naturally want to link to, and that’s forcing SEOs to think more like marketers. What does our target audience want?

Thinking like this, you’re not creating SEO campaigns or link building campaigns; you’re creating marketing campaigns that build brand awareness, boost social mentions, generate PR buzz and yeah, builds some links. Here are some great examples;

Obviously, you can’t run things like the above by yourself. You’re going to have to rely on other departments — and that brings me to probably the most important job of any SEO in 2015….

Cheerleader

One of my boss’ favorite sayings is, “The best SEO’s will put themselves out of a job.” While that’s not exactly motivating me to be the best SEO (I kid), the point is that the best SEOs have done such a good job at educating other teams on SEO that, after a while, there doesn’t need to be someone advocating for “right thing for SEO” because that’s naturally been weaved into the fabric of every digital professional’s job.

Do I think we’re ever going to get to that point? Not in the next 10 years, but the fact remains that SEO in theory isn’t hard, no matter how many people try to tell you it’s a Jedi magic trick.

Everything you do online could have some effect on your organic traffic, so SEOs have to rely on other teams to understand how their actions affect our KPIs. You have to rally these evangelists in creative, in social media, in development, in IT, and in copywriting, educating them on how what they do is actually SEO. That’s the only way you’re going to be able to meet your goals.

The post In 2015, Your Job As An SEO Isn’t Actually SEO appeared first on Search Engine Land.

]]>
/job-seo-2015-isnt-actually-seo-214150/feed 0