Generally speaking, Search Engine Optimization is now broken down into three main areas:
Content | Link building | Social Media
Search engines are placing a much heavier emphasis on the combination and consolidation of these three components.
Great Content Rules. Why? No authority will link to poor content. Google knows how to differentiate between good content and poor content. People link to unique, high-quality content and sites that consistently offer an excellent customer experience.
Google interprets customer experience with customer behavior metrics and uses them as a ranking determinants (% of click-throughs from SERPs, time on site, pages per visit, repeat visits, conversions, etc.).
SEO 101: Any page that is indexed into the search engine’s databases is already ranking, albeit possibly not in the top pages of the search engine results page, i.e. SERPs. An article or blog post or press release is a page with its own URL and can be optimized and ranked the same way as any web page.
Content involves writing in a way that gives your customers and search engines the clearest picture of what the page is all about. SEO copywriting is creating each page’s unique content to speak to your prospective customer first, but also involves research to find the most relevant keyword(s) that people may search for to find your page. Keyword research is the art and science of selecting keywords that are both relevant to the page and less competitive to increase the likelihood of a higher ranking. It is often the case of selecting a keyword that may offer “some” traffic to your site versus a highly competitive keyword that will offer “no” traffic to your site because you are not yet in a position to compete in the rankings on that keyword.
So how do you compete in the rankings on the most competitive keywords? Enter link building.
Everything else being equal, high quantities of high-quality links remains the number one way to move up in the rankings on competitive keywords.
Each link to a page is like a vote and the page with the most votes usually wins. The goal is to amass positive citations across the web from high value, industry-related authorities. It’s up to you to find out who they are, nurture them and convince them that your value proposition is worthy of their support.
Link-building is a non-stop fight to get to and stay on top. Links should be earned, not bought. Link-building is synonymous with Inbound Marketing.
There is a best-practice in Link Building of creating a link building infrastructure that can be separated into four areas:
- easily-gained links regardless of your target market
- higher-value links in your target market – These take research, nurturing of relationships and compelling new content.
- creative link building campaigns using any number of methods that are good enough to attract links automatically (link bait) in your target markets
- Link opportunities that are gleaned from the competition
Each of these will be discussed in future posts.
A Link is NOT a Link – How links are valued by search engines
Google’s algorithm knows how to place a value on each link on the web.
Low value link: Anchor text “Click here” found on an unrelated site of low authority and trust, low on the page with unrelated surrounding content.
High Value Link: Anchor Text “Kayak Personal Floatation Device” pointing directly to your product page optimized for that same keyword from a high authority kayaking industry web site, high on the page and surrounded by related content and few other links.
The best links are those that you would consider valuable even if there were no search engines because the link itself would be receiving many clicks and you would be receiving much new traffic.
Search engines continue to improve the relevance of their search results. Since Google’s Panda update, there is mounting evidence to suggest an increasing weight on ranking signals from social media sources.
Social Media gives friends proof from our peers that something is good. If your friend “liked” it, you trust her judgment and you are more comfortable checking it out.
So, social media endorsements like shares, likes, retweets, mentions, and Google +1 likes are virtual votes endorsing something we like. But since these “votes” come from less authoritative sources, they may carry lower weight, but they are still votes and they are being counted. These include:
- Links in Tweets – the power of the link is determined by Google and Bing depending on the authority of the Twitter member via # followers, authority of relevant followers, # of retweets with that link and the # of relevant lists the user is on. The ratio of followers to followed is a strong signal of authority.
- Links on Facebook Pages
- Links on Google+
- Google +1’s
Giving “new customers” the chance to Google+1, Tweet, “Like” and post news about their new purchase or become a “Brand Ambassador” is an important strategy to consider. The sales confirmation email has the highest “open rate” of all emails.
Google and Bing realize that their success is based on serving up the most correct and relevant results based on any query. They have stated that those algorithmic results should be a real-world reflection and interpretation of excellence in online business. Everything else being equal, they want First-page results to serve up – awesome – all measured by an automatic measuring algorithm that, in many ways, is also creating a level playing field for today’s new e-commerce entrepreneurs.