There has been a lot of talk lately about the changes being made at Google. SEO firms are scared and there’s a prominent fear that traditional SEO may at long last be dead. After all, Google is making the most significant changes it has ever made in its relatively short lifespan (even if it is naming these algorithm shifts under the premise of cuddly animals such as Panda and Penguin).
The reality is that SEO is not dead. In fact it isn’t even close to being finished. However, the old form of SEO IS dead. The days of buying and exchanging links, spamming directories and using automated software is a thing of the past. The web is moving to a more social place and as such, it is more important than ever to build out a community around your product or service if you wish to effectively exceed your SEO ambitions and succeed online.
I’ve worked in online marketing for a decade and have never experienced changes as dramatic as what has happened in the last 12 months. I’ve worked directly for a major search engine (Bing.com) and currently run my own SEO agency that has managed and still manages to get our clients on the first page of Google in this current SEO climate. This post is dedicated to what we’re seeing in the SEO field and what is still working in a post Panda/Penguin world.
Let’s start out with the onsite piece of SEO. The first step to any good SEO campaign is finding the right search terms to target. Everything starts with the search terms because if you don’t have the right search terms that you’re focusing on, the rest of your efforts will be for nothing. So make sure you select keywords that have high levels of search volume and that aren’t so competitive that it will take forever to improve your rankings. Once you know the terms that you’re looking to focus on, make sure that your HTML tags reflect this but most importantly, make sure you have content on your website that speaks to these specific terms. I can’t stress how important content is in modern day SEO.
Speaking of the importance of content in modern day SEO, that brings me to my recommendations on offsite optimization. These days, you can forget about endlessly setting up directory listings or exchanging links with hundreds of other sites to get your link count up. Content is king off the website as much as it is on the website. In order to effectively build incoming links, you need to become an authority in your space. You need to give away content and information to build trust and you need to provide information that is so valuable that everyone in your field is clamoring just to refer to the information you are sharing with the world. This is the new reality of the social web.
The likelihood is that you know quite a bit about your area of expertise but maybe a little less about how to build up a community that is really interested in what you have to say. Well luckily, we live in a world that has made this somewhat easy and I’m going to share some tricks of the trade in the post.
If you want to distribute some information about your organization that gets shared out organically, put together a press release and distribute it to www.prlog.org which is a free and easy to use resource for PR distribution.
If you want to get some news coverage for the great work you’re doing, then sign up for www.helpareporterout.com and find reporters that are actively looking to write stories about the very things you are currently working on.
If you want to build up a huge base of twitter followers who are actively interested in the very areas you are writing about then sign up for www.tweetadder.com and generate a huge amount of interested twitter followers automatically.
If you’re looking to get into blogging (which you definitely should if you’re trying to be a thought leader), then sign up for www.bloggerlinkup.com and find prominent bloggers that are actively looking for topics related to what you have to write about.
If you want to participate in forums and conversations related to your subject matter then sign up for www.boardreader.com and find forum conversations related to specific topics of interest to your business.
The new reality of SEO is that thought leaders will be significantly rewarded and the rest of the pack is going to have a really hard time sticking out from the crowd. So go forth and get the word out about what a great resource of information you can be in your industry. Once you build up that level of credibility and trust, there will be nothing to stop you from being the dominant player in your field.
This article is courtesy of Matt Davidson. Matt is a former Microsoft employee who worked on the Bing.com search team. After leaving Microsoft, Matt founded an SEO consulting firm called Sovo Media (www.sovomedia.com) and is in the process of publishing his first book on the topic of search engine optimization (www.stepbystepseobook.com).