Unless you have been off the SEO planet, you will have heard the many moans and wails whenever Google updates its algorithm (Panda, Caffeine and Penguin, for instance) or changes it completely (Hummingbird).
There are frequent reports of loss of traffic, search engine rankings and hence income, affecting even well-established websites and brands—all thanks to Google's updates and changes. What one hears less about is what strategies the penalized sites have been using to attract Google's wrath. It is, therefore, difficult to make accurate judgements about the reason behind a catastrophic drop in traffic and SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for a site.
Most website owners will not own up to devious or prohibited SEO methods – or may not even know that what they have been doing is frowned upon by Google. However, the whole art-cum-science that is search engine optimization and marketing is made even harder by Google's reluctance to publicly reveal its trade secret – the algorithm.
There are known to be over 200 factors which affect search engine rankings, and the Search Engine Land Periodic Table highlights many of the known factors.
So, for instance, your site must:
- load quickly
- be well-structured, in particular so search engines can easily crawl it and your visitors can navigate with ease
- include relevant keywords EVERYWHERE they are expected (e.g. meta tags, page titles, alt img tags, headlines, subheadings and copy) but without keyword stuffing or duplication
- have well-written, quality content that is fresh, up to date and includes 'hot', trending topics
- be attractive to visitors (shown by length of time spent on site, return visits, bounce rate, and so on)
- have a site map
- be linked to by quality and trustworthy sites
- inbound links should include relevant keywords in anchor text (but this is difficult to achieve as it is out of your control)
- show all contact details clearly (a Google Business/Places listing is a must)
- indicate a wide variety and high quality of social signals – shares, followers, influencers, etc
- And much more!
Every website should be getting these factors right because – and this is important – these factors also matter for your visitors. One should never forget that your visitors are at least as valuable as the search engines if not much more so. Many businesses get so wrapped up in SEO and SEM and how to get it right for the search engines, that the primary purpose of the website gets overlooked. And this is far more common than you would think. Content marketing today requires a focus on “Adaptive SEO”—an approach to organic search strategies that is based on a proven methodology and framework intended to ensure a web presence can withstand or adapt to the changing landscape of search and social.
And therein lies perhaps the most forgotten secret of SEO and marketing. Google has spelled this out over and over again: If your website (and all your other Internet marketing techniques) are working for you and your visitors, it will all work for Google too.
Integrating Social As Part of Your Overall Internet Marketing Strategy
Let's illustrate how this works with an example.
You have a site (selling widgets, because in these examples they always do!). You regularly update your website with news, new products, developments in the widget world and reviews of widgets. In addition, you offer a regular email newsletter summarizing all the latest updates on your website for the time-pressed yet interested people who have signed up to stay in touch.
You also have social media accounts. Facebook – because you use it for targeted advertising and run funky competitions which your Facebook Friends and Fans love. Many of these Friends do not visit your website often because all of your latest and greatest widgets come to them through their news feed or from friends or through your advertisements.
You also have a Twitter account, and through that you not only find news to share with your Friends and on your website, but you also mix with others in the widget world. You use Twitter to encourage your customers to get in touch and for support. Many of your ideas for new widgets, content, reviews, and for competitions come from your followers who know that if they ask nicely, you may soon stock a widget from their wish list.
You are also on LinkedIn because many of your suppliers are there, as are your biggest customers who buy wholesale quantities of widgets. Also the Groups prove extremely useful for content marketing and keeping in touch with the latest developments from widget manufacturers.
You have social sign-up on your website so your Twitter Followers, Facebook Friends, LinkedIn Connections, etc. can all sign in using their social media account when they wish to buy a widget. This information about how social you are, and how loyal your friends and followers are is available to the search engines.
And without you doing anything except keeping your social community informed and happy, you have just made a huge difference to the effectiveness of your search engine optimization and to Google's perception of your business! And that is the best way to stay on Google’s radar and remain relevant and useful to your target audience.