Looking over our old blog articles, we at SEO Essential Solutions are reminded how quickly the landscape of Internet Marketing and SEO has changed in just a very short time. What was the primary focus a few years back is now a secondary focus. SEO as a stand-alone service is not as relevant anymore as what we call Internet Marketing which includes a lot of holistic lateral marketing.
Today, if your SEO specialist isn’t providing you with holistic lateral solutions defined below, then you aren’t getting much value. Competing online has taken on a whole different turn and if you aren’t doing what is required you won’t stand a chance to stay in the game for long.
As David Amerland states in his book Google Semantic Search, “the days of being able to “wing it” are long gone. Businesses that are serious about succeeding in the Google-dominated online world have to take search seriously and create a process-driven business strategy around it.”
Paying for internet marketing temporarily and hoping it sticks long term just doesn’t work well anymore. Building an ongoing strategy of how you will integrate your digital presence is the road every person will end up taking and this strategy can include a combination of in-house staff and consultants. The following has to be considered as Google search is where it is today.
Let’s break it down.
In order to deliver the best results, search engines such as Google has been fine tuning the quality of search results one receives. To deliver such results effectively, Google reviews a website for ‘like’ terms in addition to direct terms. Semantic search also takes into consideration intent and context. We know this due to monitoring Google patents and industry discussions. Look at this Google patent and examine the language. We see this:
“the search engine may identify a number of resources which match terms in the user’s query, but which are unrelated to the actual information need of the user.”
To take advantage of semantic search then means to do the following:
- Provide as much information and cross information to your visitors as possible.
- Strengthening all of your platforms you have a digital presence on to show consistency and use.
- Align content production with key focus areas.
- Strengthen all social media outlets and build constancy and usage.
If you are scratching your head on some of the bullet points listed above in meeting Search Intent, know that Google depends on the Knowledge Graph to assess intent. The knowledge Graph. Okay, this is where things get crazy but if you haven’t already figured this out, everything you do online is tracked and remembered. Google is able to gather all this information including where you make comments on social media, what you say, who you Like or Retweet, what content you share, what you read and more to determine what search results you will get. Maybe you have noticed that if you live in Madison Wisconsin and simply type in “best restaurants” Google will offer you additional options such as “best restaurants in Madison” “best restaurants in Milwaukee”. Google knows where you are when you are making a query, what city you are in – this also is tied into the Knowledge Graph.
Because so many variables are taken into consideration before results are served up, many are moving away from ranking reports and completely focusing on keywords. Each person’s query, depending on who they are and where they are will be different than the next persons.
The Knowledge Graph depends on information discovered and indexed by Google and how much value it is giving the end user. One cannot trick search engines as easily any more with just stuffing keywords in an article and becoming ranked for it. So with this in mind, here is how you build strength within the Knowledge Graph.
- Make a list of problems you feel your clientele face and provide solutions.
- Build all content around quality information delivered in addition to entertaining. Throw out any superficial articles that just repeat what everybody else has already said online and really write unique content.
- Decide how you will distribute your content and make sure it is seen by your demographics.
- Put energy into obtaining customer reviews and building customer engagement with your blog articles or in social media circles.
- Determine what makes your company unique or your Unique Selling Point (USP) and really emphasize that.
Building trust around your brand is now critical for online companies. To build trust often means building online authority. Google wants you to prove you are worthy of recommendation and frankly people still depend on your company being trustworthy before making a purchase.
Trust is built by a handful of factors and one is Authorship. With the addition of Google+ came the Google Author Rank. While this is in flux at the moment, as Google has taken down author images, the information behind the author’s individual strength still translates back to the website authority. Because of this you can imagine the impact it is having on corporations who depend on their staff to write and contribute on their behalf. Each individual creates their own personal strength and value which they can take with them if they switch jobs.
Relationships, brand reputation, and interaction are all part of how your website is evaluated for trust rank.
With Trust Rank came the huge value Google+ now carries. Google+ is being used as a primary source of information to Google as a standalone with more than 81 attributes that are captured.
Google is now taking into consideration two criteria groupings 1)Query-Dependent Criteria and 2)Query-Independent Criteria. The second criteria takes into consideration “signals” which come from the above mentioned along with a host of other factors.
- Ask staff to set up Google + profiles and begin contributing to your blog page.
- Educate staff on the voice of the company.
- Again focus on quality content and build a content calendar with assignments to staff members.
- Monitor your company reputation.
- Monitor where your content appears online.
- Create a strategy for distributing your content and sharing it socially.
- Monitor digital platforms and create a strategy around using each. Platforms can include Facebook, Foursquare, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.
This leads us to the social graph. Semantic search draws on social signals and how strong your social presence is. Google examines a company’s social presence to further understand its intent through the content. It also assesses authority through social interaction. Google assess Trust through social interaction as well. Maybe you are seeing now how all the above ties together.
- Does your social media presence reflect well on your company and does it focus on your target message?
- Create a strategy on how you can distribute your content to your target audience using social media.
- Identify how you can become an authority in your circles and encourage more engagement.
- Diversify your content creation that you are sharing online – consider videos in addition to written content.
The value of the link back to your website hasn’t changed much. Quality links from another website to yours still holds a lot of value and yet is the most difficult thing to achieve. While Google is cracking down on purchased links, link farms, spam links and more there is still a lot of unknowns about the link world. We do know that a few great links are better than a number of low profile links.
- What information on your website would be of benefit to another website owner in which they would want to link back to you for? If you don’t have anything, consider creating this information.
- Where are your competitors finding links – is it possible to ask for a link from the same company?
- Creating quality content on your blog and sharing it, may result in getting that content linked to from another blog.
- Target bloggers, journalists, online personalities in hopes they will find your product or service interesting enough to write about. This could happen serendipitously but it is better to be strategic about it.
You have now built your content, laid out your social media sources and platforms and now you will need people to actually read your material and comment on it. This is also not an easy thing to do unless you have brand loyalty and a very engaged audience. Building engagement requires brand trust, brand authority and well, people knowing about your brand in the first place. Engagement also means the amount of time somebody clicks on your website and how many pages they click on once on your website. So yes there is a strategy behind building engagement too.
- Build brand strength by focusing on your Unique Selling Point and translating that USP to your audience.
- Put your brand in front of all potential clients or your demographics starting with social media circles such as Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. These three platforms are the easiest to target others from.
- Build contests that are relevant to your demographics not just a random giveaway. If you are a bike store, promote a bike giveaway for those who take a particular action.
- Write quality content so that readers actually stay on your website and make comments.
- Evaluate your website’s effectiveness to determine if users are clicking through pages or bouncing off. Click through rate and length of time spent on your website is just as important as finding your website.
While search engines such as Google are now focusing on the above criteria, we can’t forget that your website must have the basics in place in addition to the above factors. A car with a flat tire will not win the race, even if the driver has developed a number of skills and the car is fine tuned. Here are some basics your website must have to even be in the game:
- Title and Description Tags that reflect each page’s content
- Alt tags behind images
- XML Sitemap
- A clear hierarchy of text links
- Keyword Friendly URL’s and URL structures
- Remove Duplicate Content
- Watch for crawling errors that block search engines
- Keyword focus and difficulty research
- Website usability and experience