Between the multitude of Google s algorithmic updates (including Panda), the introduction of instant search, and the premium placed on quality content; 2011 has been a revolutionary year for SEO.
Unfortunately, not everyone s tactics have evolved to match the changes in the industry. Unnecessary and spammy link buying continues, boring content continues to be produced, and black hat SEO tactics are still used, even by some of the most reputable firms. In the New Year, firms need to leave these timeworn, outdated tactics behind, and commit to the following resolutions.
Stop buying useless links
We ve been saying it for years and hopefully this year we ll say it for the last time. SEO isn t about buying links. It s about engaging users. Panda proved that Google hates content farms, and continuing to invest in low quality links will actually end up hurting your rankings instead of providing a benefit.
Buying links from content farms is about gaming search engines, not meeting the needs of uses to achieve real success. In 2012, letâ€™s finally put an end to this worthless tactic.
Make your #1 KPI conversions, not rankings or traffic
Rankings and traffic man nothing if visits aren t driving revenue. The true performance indicator is whether people are converting once they get to your site, not how many people get there because you re the first result in Google. Remind yourself that vanity rankings and broad-spectrum traffic aren t the goal.
Incorporate Analytics and CRO into your SEO efforts
SEO is an iterative process that takes time and accurate measurement to achieve value from your efforts. That means you need analytics to help track your traffic, and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) to see what options visitors prefer. Used together, CRO and Analytics can help you can increase your conversions beyond your wildest expectations.
Measure actual conversion value- not all are equal
However, not every conversion is going to generate the same results or impact. All leads are not equal. By incorporating average order value, life-time value of the customer, and/or qualified lead rate per keyword/ campaign you ll be able evolve SEO efforts with a focus on the keywords with the highest ROI, not just the most traffic. To effectively measure success, assign true values to conversions, not aspirational ones.
Start using Schema.org to structure data
Adding microformatting to your SEO efforts enables semantic search to operate successfully. Schema.org is going to be a huge factor in the future of SEO, so now is the time to get on board before you start to see your rankings floundering. Strike a deal with your development team, and start implementing.
Create an integrated content strategy
Just in case you missed the announcement, Google has put a premium on content. That means you need to start taking content more seriously, and develop a strategy that integrates good, high value content, regardless of if its articles, infographics, videos, etc. Any and all content needs to be well written, researched, and thought out, and most importantly, add value to your target audience.
Stop creating bad, ill-informed Infogrpahics without supporting content
Infographics are a great tool for getting links and building thought leadership. Unfortunately, they only work if the information is pertinent and factually correct.
Google is cracking down on bad infographics, and users are becoming more discerning as well. Do your research and get your facts straight before you design a flowchart with a smiley face and made up statistics.
Stop writing poorly written, SEO-spammed articles
Writing an article for the sake of stuffing keywords and links doesn t make your site more relevant in the eyes of search engines. In fact, it does the opposite. Make sure your articles are well written and contain only the necessary keywords and links. This means writing an article around an idea, not around keywords.
Make your press releases newsworthy, not SEO focused
Press releases are great ways to share information, links, and keywords. Keyword stuffing and jamming links into your press releases, however, will not help your rankings with search engines. Make your press releases compelling so that people will actually read and share the information, generating true value for users and in the eyes of search engines.
Incorporate social to create engagement - social signals for SEO are just a byproduct
Focus on a quality experience first. SEO second. If you aren t crafting a quality social engagement for users where they see things they want or need, you are wasting your time. Social campaigns just for a link or mention make SEO efforts will fall flat, pretty much negating your efforts. Creating a Facebook or Twitter page is not enough if you abandon your efforts and don t attempt to engage your potential customers.
Make usability a priority
All your SEO efforts are for naught if your bounce rate is high and your conversion rate is low. Start thinking about visitor intent, and focus your efforts on helping your visitors find what they are looking for. Humans first, robots second.
Resolve to respect the user
At the end of the day, even the best rankings, content, analytics, and strategies mean nothing if you don t understand and respect the user.
Remember, SEO is just a tactic. We re marketers first and as such, any campaign, including any SEO campaign, should be geared towards engagement and helping the user accomplish their objectives.