If you depend on Organic website traffic for new and returning business, it’s important to understand the effects that search engine algorithm updates can have on your web traffic. Usually run to prevent search spam and improve the SERPs, search engine algorithm updates can be confusing for web masters and interactive marketers. Learn about the latest algorithm updates and what they mean for your website.
If you’ve been ignoring SEO in favor of other marketing efforts, it may be time to change your strategy. In its annual report, out this week, Forrester Research stated that more survey respondents found websites by organic means then any other method — up 4% from 50% in 2011 to 54% in 2012. In other words, the importance of SEO continues to grow.
The report also indicates the growing influence of social media marketing, as its own numbers climbed 7% from last year to 32%.
While this doesn’t mean you should dump your Adwords budget in favor of SEO, it does mean that it’s time to take an “all in” approach to internet marketing — combining SEO, Social and PPC marketing — for a powerful cocktail that creates the kind of ubiquity needed to build brand recognition and drive conversions.
How Do You Get Started?
SEO is a complex combination of technical configurations, on- and offsite keyword optimized (and user-friendly) content, and website popularity.
Before you do anything with content, it’s extremely important to make sure that there are no technical configurations standing in the way of having your content seen — and crawled — by the search engines. Then, it’s time to determine how your users are searching — and what they want to know.
Then and only then should you begin creating content. This content should live on your site and on other relevant sites, including social networks.
While time consuming, SEO is an extremely rewarding marketing method. Should you ever again doubt the importance of SEO, just look at the numbers. And ask yourself: How important is it that the majority of your potential customers find your website?
How do you stack up against your competitors? Request a FREE Search Engine Visibility Report.
When it comes to website optimization, images are sometimes an afterthought. Copy, design, and coding all play important roles in an optimized website, but images can also increase your visibility in image based searches. Optimizing images is easy do if you follow these best practice guidelines:
Utilize image compression and file type: Maintaining fast load times is important for an optimized website. If your site is using lots of image data, you’ll need to compress the images to keep them from affecting your site’s performance. You should also consider which file extension your images use. For example, a .png file can show more colors than a .jpg file, but it’s larger and will take longer to load.
Create an image sitemap: To increase the chances that search engines will index the images on your website, create an image sitemap.
Don’t forget social sharing buttons: The advent of image sharing sites like Pinterest has only increased the importance of sharing buttons, especially for images. By adding social sharing buttons, you’ll increase the chance that web pages and images reach a wider audience.
Optimize image metadata: Most importantly, you should optimize the file name and alt tag. For both, use five to seven words to describe what the image is. If possible, use keywords that you’d like to target. If the image contains text, include this text in the alt data as well.
As the saying goes, “good things come to those who wait.” In certain aspects of quality SEO programs, there’s a lot of truth to that statement. Time and time again, we explain to clients that results from an SEO program are not quantifiable overnight. SEO efforts are most effective when they follow a natural philosophy.
“Natural” here refers to the actions your SEO strategy takes in light of guidelines set by search engines. All over the Internet, there are SEO blogs showcasing the latest and greatest aggressive SEO strategies. These are usually tweaks and implementations that are not out-rightly against guidelines. Essentially, an aggressive strategy searches for ways to bend the system to gain an advantage. Aggressive strategies aren’t necessary for SEO success, but they may get results faster.
An advantage that doesn’t actually break any rules sounds great! But, the advantage tends to fall apart over the long-term — resulting in wasted effort. In fact, many of the strategies that are now banned by current search engine guidelines were aggressive strategies that gained widespread use, to the detriment of users.
Take blog networks as an example. Until last year, it was ordinary for websites to join up with a blog network for quick promotion and increased rankings. It was similar to a link farm, but it wasn’t expressly forbidden. In March 2012, Google finally took action and de-indexed hundreds of blog networking web pages. The aggressive strategy of signing up with blog networks and catering to their requirements garnered good results for a while. But, any sites that worked with blog networks essentially had all of that time and effort thrown out the window once Google adjusted its guidelines. Had these sites promoted their blogs via natural linking efforts, they wouldn’t have suffered such a penalization.
That’s just one of many examples of a successful “aggressive” strategy completely backfiring. In a future post, we’ll go over why “natural” style strategies are more effective in the long run.