Confessions from an Annoyed yet Modern SEO

Search Engine Optimization has been a part of the web since search became the most popular activity out there. Now people argue that SEO isn’t important anymore due to the emergence of the social web and the constant evolution of the web infrastructure and the possibilities that come with it. This is what I think.

You don’t need a Good SEO Anymore

But you need a great one. As some people have pointed out quite recently, the space for search engine manipulation is narrowing by the day. The cat is catching up to the mouse sort to say. Half ass bastards that sell you bad link packages will get busted. There will still be good link packages, but the “one thousand links in three months” will start to dwindle in worth. They might even hurt you even though they are domain links and not deep links with anchor texts.

Google is cracking down on shit right now and unaware SEO’s that keep to SEO strategies from 2004 will not be the one’s on top of the SERPs by the end of this year. The great SEO doing his or her job in 2010 needs to be able to optimize not only for Google, but for Twitter, for YouTube, for Picasa and flickr. The great SEO needs to be able to optimize for search in so many more places than previously required.

The days of the fast lane has passed. You can still cheat, but you actually need some skill to do it. You can’t just register 500 domains, hire 20 people from an underpaid country and then generate duplicates of Craigslist or Yahoo Directory. It only has limited results in comparison to other strategies, now it will work even less.

And even though you do not wish to cheat, the mere on page optimization is not enough. A 5 year old can optimize a website for the search engines these days. Out of the box solutions make most content optimized nowadays. You merely become one piece of content amongst many others. You actually have to understand your users, and appeal to them in order to make your on page optimization work.

This naturally brings me to the next topic of my blog post which is:

You don’t need Good Content Anymore

You need great content. And by great content I mean that you need rich content. With great content I mean content that a user can take a part, interpret and share. With great content I mean that if you have a product catalog you should not make into a product image a price and a product name. You need to describe why the parts of your content are the most relevant components to reflect on your product type out there.

With great content I also mean content that you can tell stories about today and tomorrow. Especially if you have seasoned products, reports or news that you want to rank. They need to have a story so that even basic stuff such that all the link love you earn from your season launch can be redirected to a landing page telling the story of the past to the future visitors. Or in technical terms, make a 301 for gods sake and make the new landing page relevant for the old campaign. Redirect with relevance!

With great content I most definitively mean that you need to focus on the user and not on your organization. Thus you need to, you HAVE to, invest in a good analytics tool. You need to understand how the user is using your website or online project and you need to be agile enough to adapt.

If you are running an informative website such as Wikipedia, then there is no better tool than Google Analytics. If you are running a sales driven website there is no better tool than Omniture Sitecatalyst and if you are running something inbetween then you have the option to choose. If you have a lot of money, then you have a lot more choices. If you have a little money, then you need to run Google Analytics regardless if they have the proper reporting or not.

You need to stop asking yourself why the users don’t do what you want them to, but ask yourself what you can do for the user to do what you agree upon. Then you absolutely NEED to keep your to your promise of that agreement.

Also, if you want people to link to you, then you also have to be available where people are when they are writing or when they are thinking to write something for the web. I would go so far to say that most of what is produced on the web is spontaneous as the social web grows. This means you have to be available closer to your customers every day life in order to be able to catch them in the fly sort to say.

You don’t need to build relationships anymore

You need to maintain important ones. And by maintaining I mean you have to build your web presence in a way that is consistent to your core customer groups. Mass SEO services bring you loads and loads of traffic. However, most of that traffic is highly irrelevant for your business purposes. You need to focus on bringing the relevant user to your website which requires that you spend more time on less content. Cause if you create great content that generate great links whilst listening to your users, then you should be pretty well off.

But as you know this will require new types of investments and costs on your behalf. Or really, all this requires is that you redistribute money from your outbound marketing budget to your inbound marketing budget. If you look in your data you know that out of 1o dollars you are spending 9 dollars on getting people to your website, whilst only spending 1 dollar on converting them when they get there. Redistribute budget – earn more!! (You might even do something about your 55% bounce rate whilst at it. “aaaawww…”)

This means that you in many cases will save money in some end. It is logical. If you give your customers what you’ve promised them and they want it again, there is no reason for them to go elsewhere right?

Well, it should be that way. Unfortunately it is not, because people are people, and they are irrational, non-trustworthy and adulterous bastards, really. Even though you do all you have promised them they still won’t come back if you don’t remind them that you kept your promise. Your competitor will be there to shove his/her offer into their ear and promise them wonderland on any opportunity you give them. Thus you need to keep your relationship with your customers fresh and vibrant.

The best way to do that is to keep track of them and keep contact with them – on a commercial level – through a standard CRM such as salesforce or Sugar CRM. This is not only the most cost reducing marketing activity out there, but it is also one of the best link building strategies ever.

What Authority do I have to say this?

I am not saying that marketing doesn’t work. I am a huge fan of TV, billboards, 100 by 11000 ft chocolate bars standing in a square or events that are truly remarkable. The problem I have with most current marketing strategies are that they disregard the power offline campaigns have on online search patterns and the advantages you can gain from search engine optimization.

If you don’t understand SEO, you don’t understand how to truly leverage the web. The web is about people, content and the links between them. You can apply many tactics and filters on top of these variables. You can have partial success in many different campaigns. In other words, you can be good. But until you understand the backbone of online sales and discovery you cannot become great.

All of the above are parts of great SEO practices. As long as we have above 2 billion plus searches conducted per day, those of you disregarding SEO are quite frankly quite dumb.

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