Many small business think they can get away with not using social media to promote themselves, but this is not the case – just as many business owners think SEO less effective than “traditional” marketing methods such as TV, radio, or newspaper advertisements, though this is not true.
The fact is that even if you have great SEO, you might not be making the biggest possible impact if you’re not utilizing social media to its fullest potential. Even if the rest of your SEO or SEM package is great, you might not be getting all the customers you possibly could if you combined SEO/SEM with a strong social media presence – because a social media presence compliments SEO.
“How does social media help my SEO?” you might ask. Well, here are the answers.
A strong social media presence can help your SEO by providing valuable backlinks (or “external links”) to your company’s main site. How does this work? It’s simple.
You’ll link your profiles on social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google Plus to your company website directly. This can be easily done during the initial setup of your accounts on these sites.
That provides your main site with a few backlinks and a little more legitimacy. But you can really put your SEO through the roof with the following technique:
Every single time you post new content on your main site (which you should do frequently, perhaps through a blog), share that fresh content (or an excerpt from it) on social media with a link to your main site. This will boost your SERP rankings not only the first time it is posted, but even more with each share, forward, etc.
Why does this happen? I’ll make it simple for you – one of the primary ways Google and other major search engines determine what appears in their SERPs at all and where these things appear in their SERPs is backlinks or external links.
Every time another site links to your site, that’s a backlink or external link. And each and every one of these is considered a sort of “vote” for you by that other site – which makes you appear more legitimate, relevant, and interesting to Google and its competitors in the search engine industry.
Backlinks (or external links) are considered the single most important factor determining where your site lands on a SERP by many prominent SEO experts – and that means that the more backlinks you have to your site, the more customers you’ll get on autopilot.
If you’re interested in creating a major social media presence for your business, please check out major social media outlets like Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, and Instagram. A presence on any of these sites will almost certainly boost your SEO – and will help you in other ways as well, which I’ll be sure to document for you in a future post.
With a strong SEO presence, you’re sure to dominate at SEO – and in the hearts and minds of potential customers everywhere.
Google’s algorithm – how can we understand it?
Google and all the other major search engines use complex algorithms to bring users relevant results so quickly; SEO is the practice of making your site more attractive to those algorithms through various methods.
But the algorithms are so complex, secret, and so frequently updated that no one in the SEO world really understands exactly what’s in them – not even the very best and most expensive marketers. I’d be willing to bet that a huge percentage of Google’s employees don’t even know everything about the algorithm!
So how do SEO marketers do what we do? We’ve learned, through contacts in the industry and years of trial and error, as well as resources available directly and publicly from Google and other search engines, most of what works and a lot of what doesn’t. We look at the trends, at what’s succeeding and what’s not, and use the knowledge we glean from that to help anyone who needs better internet marketing. And in blogs like this one, we pass the information along to you.
Recently, another big SEO blog claimed they had done the impossible – listed all 200 factors that Google considers (a number which it publicly shares on its own information pages) when indexing and searching web sites. The article, which is one of the most interesting I’ve read in a while (excepting everything from this blog, of course), is available over at Backlinko.
Even the writer, though – and he’s one of the better SEO gurus out there – knows that this can’t possibly be a definitive, exhaustive list. He admits in his first paragraph that a great deal of this list is conjecture, controversial, or both.
So why’d I send you over to the article, then? Two reasons: one, it’s just plain interesting; two, some of these factors may be extremely important. So my advice to you is this:
- When it comes to SEO, stick to the proven methods first. These include, in rough order of importance:
- External links
- Internal links / site design
- Quality content
- However, if you feel you’ve covered your bases there and you’re consistently putting out quality content to keep your site fresh, you might try considering some of the other factors listed in this article.
What I mean to say is that the proven, most common methods have been shown by marketers and businesses everywhere to get real results. Although it may not stay this way forever, they’re the gold standard for now.
However, some of these smaller, more controversial things are worth looking at. Perhaps they’ll make the difference between being on the top of page 2 and the bottom of page 1. Or maybe they’ll give you or your marketing professionals ideas about where things are going.
Because if there’s one thing we absolutely know for certain about SEO, it’s that the rules are always changing.
The end of a year is usually the time when SEO professionals like our team here at SERP Ability take a breather and look at what has worked in the past year and what hasn’t, as well as where new trends in the complex world of SEO are pointing. Why? To see what will work best in the next year, of course!
Although SEO is constantly changing, it’s often at the beginning of a new year that the biggest changes become apparent. Here are three of the top methods we’ve learned will still work in 2017 from studying trends and looking back on our own activities in 2016.
1. Link Building
Link building is probably the most controversial entry on this list, because Google has changed its policy on the importance of links every time it has released a major algorithm update.
The fact is, though, that their deepest, most fundamental stance on links hasn’t changed. Quality links will always boost your site’s traffic and SERP standing. What has changed over the years is how much low-quality or spam links can help – and those aren’t the type of links real SEO professionals use anymore anyway.
Quality links from established, authoritative sites that are relevant to yours are one of the single most important factors in determining where your site lands on a SERP.
2. Quality Content
Yes, it’s easy to keyword-stuff and use other gray hat, black hat, or spamming techniques to get to the top – but no site without quality content ever stays there. While it’s true that “no one stays at the top forever,” you’ll be there a great deal longer if you prioritize well-written, meaningful, and relevant content, no matter what field you’re in.
With Google’s algorithm becoming more advanced and focused every single day, and the rise in importance of semantic search, the quality and relevance of your content are going to be more important than ever when it comes to your SERP standings.
Don’t forget that quality content is also historically proven to be the best way to get customers to stick around after they’ve clicked on your site.
3. Keywords, keywords, keywords.
This is another one that might be controversial, but shouldn’t be.
It seems that every new year some SEO “guru” predicts “20XX is the YEAR THE KEYWORD DIES!” or something just as dramatic.
However, the importance of keywords to Google and other search engines has never changed. Remember the early AOL days? Keywords were important then, and they’re important now. The only things that have changed are how much better the search engines have gotten to understand keywords in context.
This means that keyword stuffing probably isn’t a viable option anymore, or at least won’t be for long. However, keywords still have a huge role as part of a site’s high quality content – and the rise of semantic search may make them more important than ever, even as it totally changes the way search engine algorithms look at them.
2016 is ending… will you survive in 2017?
“Complacency will easily destroy your rankings… this will be dangerous for any business interested in surviving…”
– Jim Yu, Search Engine Watch
You might know all about SEO basics like keywords, tags, social media marketing, and linkbuilding – but search engines’ algorithms are always changing, and intrepid SEO marketers are always coming up with new techniques for search engine optimization. Here are 3 of the newest, most actionable lesser-known SEO tips out there today – to keep you and your site relevant throughout 2017 and beyond.
1. Use an SEO plugin for all your WordPress sites.
WordPress has some amazing, easy to use features by default that will allow you to manipulate features search engines look for to your benefit – however, installing one of their SEO plugins (such as Yoast, a free and highly functional SEO-focused plugin available direct from WordPress) can put your SEO management capabilities through the roof.
The folks blogging over at Kinsta.com know a thing or two about blogging, and just put out a highly useful list of tips for SEO in 2017 themselves. One of their first and best tips was to use Yoast or a similar SEO plugin if your site is WordPress based – this can have a huge impact for little to no financial investment, and might actually save you time as it brings you traffic!
The Kinsta article is also great in that it details some of the best features of Yoast and shows you how to use them – so if Yoast is the way you’re going, be sure to check them out!
2. If you’re not already using Schema markup, you need to start.
No one speaks the language of search engines better than Schema.org, and if you’re not already using their markup codes on your website, you could be missing out not only on page rankings, but also a better, “rich” display of key information from your site (instead of the normal search result, using just the first few lines of text from your site).
Google and other search engine industry leaders are using this “rich” display method more often every time they update their algorithms to make their results pages more attractive and informative. If you want your page to fit in, you need to familiarize yourself with Schema or find a marketer who can work it into your site code for you.
There’s a great article on Search Engine Watch that introduces readers to the basics of Schema, and we may post on Schema here in the future – it may just be the next big thing in SEO, setting itself up to change SEO big time in 2017.
3. If you can, make your website or your posts smaller.
Why would you want less content on your website? It makes pages load faster, especially on mobile – and there will be more mobile users than ever in 2017.
To downsize your site, use smaller and less complex images, minimize cookie usage, and compress your site if possible. This will certainly make it load faster (which in turn makes it rank higher!) and may enable it for Google’s new AMP feature – something we’ll definitely be delving into on this blog before the new year.
Most of the hard work for SEO marketers seems to be on your website – but what a lot of business owners and SEO marketers miss is how important other sites can be to your online visibility and reputation – sites like Yelp and Google Maps especially, as these often appear at the very top of search results and can easily be the only sites customers actually look at when searching on a smartphone (which, as you know, is more common than ever).
There was a great article on exactly this subject on SearchEngineLand back at the end of 2014 – let’s see what the SearchEngineLand staff got right and whether anything has changed in the past two years.
The main thrust of the old SearchEngineLand article is this: you need to set up a Google business account and claim your business on Yelp now. This is as true as ever going into 2017 – so if you haven’t done it yet, you’re already behind.
The SearchEngineLand article also details the importance of reaching out to your customers and keeping your accounts on Google and Yelp updated with the latest and most appealing information. That is also even more true now than it was back at the end of 2014. SEO is a long-term investment, not a one-off thing. That’s the big difficulty of SEO, but it’s also what makes SEO more viable than any other marketing form available today.
So it’s definitely important to follow the advice of the SearchEngineLand article – but there are also a few things they missed.
In addition to Maps and Yelp, Google also prioritizes news information. In fact, in one of the pictures going along with the SearchEngineLand article, a news article is right below Yelp and Google Maps, and above the main site of the business in question.
This brings up an additional important point – press releases still matter going into 2017. They were huge several years ago, seemed to dwindle by 2014, and are now coming back stronger than ever. Press releases can get your business noticed by news outlets, and often boost your search results faster than anything else.
Writing a press release and having it used to write a story is no easy feat, though. Press release writing is so specifically formatted, in fact, that there are several marketers out there on the web that specialize only in press release writing – and we have done a lot of work here at SERP Ability to make sure we can write great press releases too.
Press releases, Yelp, and Google Maps aside, it’s important to remember the fundamentals of SEO. In other words, your site and your social media profiles will still matter in 2017, and on top of that we never know when the next big change from Google is coming.
What this means is that you have to brush up external properties that mention you on the internet while also maintaining your own site to the highest degree of professionalism.
It seems that as time goes on and the search engines get more advanced, SEO gets harder – but it’s important to remember that as it becomes more difficult, it also becomes more rewarding.
With Small Business Saturday right around the corner, we thought we’d do a post in honor of the local landmarks, mom-and-pop shops, and community leaders in cities and towns across America.
A lot of small business owners rely solely on local traffic, and many exist in small towns where it seems like everyone already knows where shops are, what they sell, and how well they’re thought of by customers. Can these businesses skip out on investing in SEO and other forms of online marketing?
The answer is a firm, resounding NO. Even the smallest businesses and businesses in the smallest towns need to market themselves online.
For one thing, every business wants to grow. If you own a small coffee shop, you might not want to become Starbucks, but I know a couple hundred extra customers every few months could help. SEO, social media marketing, and other forms of online promotions could bring those customers in like no other form of marketing.
SEO marketing helps your business grow by reminding locals of your business, strengthening your customer relations, bringing in young people, and bringing in out-of-towners.
How does SEO help remind locals about your business? It’s simple. Because of the ubiquity and ease of use of the internet, especially since the proliferation of smartphones, your customers are always online – no matter what industry you’re in. While your customers might not be walking past your shop or listening to your (expensive) radio ads every day, chances are, they check their smartphones several times a day at the least.
Having high rankings on search engine results pages and a strong social media presence means you have a better chance of making one of those customers or potential customers think about your business (and perhaps come in and spend some money) every time he or she picks up the phone.
A strong presence on Google, Facebook, and other relevant websites can also give you a better relationship with your customers. These sites provide them with a forum to give you reviews – if you get good reviews, it’ll boost your standing in the community (and your sales); if you get bad reviews, you can reach out to customers and give them special offers or show that you’ve fixed the problem. Customers on Facebook and other social media outlets can also message you directly – if they can find your page (in other words, if you have strong SEO on your side).
Broadcasting your goods and services well on the internet also brings in out-of-towners, whether they’re in town on business, for pleasure, or just because they’re passing through. This type of marketing also attracts young people – the demographic that will choose whether your business thrives or closes in the next ten to twenty years, and beyond that!
Young people and people from outside your town are more likely to use Google than anything else to find their next drink, snack, haircut, or gift. If you’re the first thing they see, it’s more than likely they’ll come to you.
SEO has some other major benefits for small businesses too. For one thing, it’s often a good deal cheaper than traditional forms of marketing like radio, newspapers, and TV (even though it’s more effective than ANY of these mediums). Also, the business with the best SEO nearly always beats the competition – which means if you aren’t number 1 in your town now, you’re losing customers every day.
Every day, Google and other major search engines refine their search algorithms a bit, meaning the rules for SEO services like ours are always changing. There are hundreds of bloggers and journalists out there offering their own opinions on what each change means—it’s enough to make a small business owner’s head spin.
But for SEO professionals, it’s all very exciting, and we always try to look at changes as opportunities, not just challenges. It’s also important to note that people writing about the SEO industry can often overstate big changes, and get themselves or the businesses they work for into some hot water.
For example, within the past few years Google has tweaked its algorithm to focus not just on keywords (the words that Google users actually type into Google), but on sites as “entities.” Many bloggers in the SEO world took this as meaning those keywords would no longer be important in the effort to get businesses better Google search engine results.
Here we are near the end of 2016, though, and keywords matter as much as ever. Here are 3 reasons they’re still one of the most important assets available to get a small business to Page 1 of Google.
1. They’re the most direct link with the customer.
Keywords are still a big factor in what site gets to the top of a Google search engine result page and what sits get left in the dust, because Google knows internet users are typing those specific words for a reason.
Google’s whole mission is to direct its users to content that answers their questions and matters to them. Our mission as an SEO marketing company is to create content that fits those criteria and directs customers to you and your products.
2. Even with Voice Search, keywords are a major factor.
While no one knows exactly how every piece of Google’s algorithm works, SEO professionals can figure out many of the factors that go into search results, simply because we work with those results all the time.
While relatively new Google features like Voice Search and Reverse Image Search are a little harder for even the best SEO marketers to figure out, it’s obvious to professionals that words are still a factor. As these new types of searches continue to become more and more popular, professionals will need to continue to utilize search keywords to keep bringing users to sites.
3. Keywords have always been and always will be one tool in the box.
Much of the overreaction from bloggers to Google’s changes in their algorithm probably stems from the fact that many SEO marketers relied on keywords alone too much, and didn’t look at long-term factors like site construction and backlinks—so any small reduction in the importance of keywords seems like a huge deal.
The thing about keywords, though, is that they have always been one of many factors. A good SEO marketer will never rely on keywords alone, or completely exclude keywords from their approach. What separates the page 1 Google results from those on page 50 is not keywords, links, or any other factor alone—it’s all of those factors taken together.