Is SEO Dead? Some Want You to Think So

Is SEO Dead? Some people (bloggers, and so-called “experts”) in SEO, would have you think that. At least that’s the message that seems to be permeating the Internet lately.

Anyone who follows me on this blog will know, I don’t post things here very often. I’m either too busy working on other things for our clients, or I’m posting things on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Google +.  So when I DO POST something here, it’s either because I need to drive home a point, clear up a misunderstanding, rant and vent, or a combination of all three. In this case, it’s a combination of all three!

Panda - Google's Algorithm ChangesSince the big South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference where Google hinted at tweaks forthcoming to the way their engines rank websites and blog pages, posts and commentary have been running rampant on how these forthcoming changes are going to kill some websites, and destroy businesses overnight, when the next phase of the Google Panda slap occurs. Some of the changes being hinted at would seem to indicate the engines, particularly Google, are going to carve a path through content engineered to benefit search engine robots, rather than the actual end-user.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has been, up until now, all about improving content for the benefit of the search engines. However, with changes looming at Google, relevancy factors are about to become the benchmark for organic, as opposed to paid, search rankings. (If you want to listen to some of the conference discussion from SXSW by a panel, including Google’s own Matt Cutts, you can hear it here.)

These changes don’t mean that SEO is dead. You will still need to pay attention the aspects of your website or blog, those things which contribute to making your content searchable. I believe the forthcoming changes are long overdue, and will only improve what you find when you search for something online, because hopefully, some of the junk will be purged.

Consider some of the criteria search engines look at when deciding which part of a website or blog appears higher in the rankings than another. Search engines like Google use something called Algorithms to determine how pages are ranked for organic search. (That’s the search that is NOT paid for with Pay Per Click Ads). Algorithms are nothing more than mathematical check lists the engines use to rate web content to decide where to place the page(s) in the rankings. The higher quality score a page receives when it’s checked against the Algorithms, the higher that page ranks… or so that’s the theory anyway.

What I believe Google is trying to do is something that has been long overdue in coming, and it has a lot of marketers running scared as rabbits. Those who use “Black Hat Trickery” to try and fool the search engines to believe their crappy web page is really better than it is, is about to get “slapped” by Google. I, for one, am glad to see Google making this move. Google’s engineers are currently working on ways to seek out and penalize ‘search-engine engineered’ content in favor of good, relevant, quality content that is going to be of value to the user. The idea behind this is to level the playing field, which will help many small businesses who lose out in favor of big business with matching budget’s for ongoing SEO work, usually based on maximizing results through the use of key phrases.

Don’t get me wrong. There are some good SEO companies out there, I’ve just yet to find one that really does what they promise, “LONG TERM”.

Some SEO Tactics are short lived, and when Google, or any of the other search engines, figure out what these SEO companies are doing, they tweak and fine tune those Algorithms to better filter out the junk.

Here are some things you need to be sure you’re doing on your site to avoid being slapped by Google for not meeting the quality criteria they are looking for:

  1. Pay close attention to details such as making sure you have descriptive titles. Otherwise, how are the search engines supposed to know if your content is relevant to a user searching their database?
  2. All of your images need to have an ‘alt’ tag. These are descriptions which make images ‘visible’ to both people who are using screen readers to access information as well as search engine robots. Remember, search engines can’t see, only crawl and read code.
  3. Clear and straightforward site navigation helps. Make it easy for people to find the information they’re looking for as quickly as possible. Drop-down menus help tremendously, which become necessary if a site is particularly large.
  4. Having a site map available to users can help with navigation around a large site. However, it doesn’t help much hiding the link to the site-map down the bottom of the page.
  5. Grammar and spelling are important. We all make mistakes, which can be rectified of course. However, a site with little obvious care and attention to the basics will not score well for Google ‘quality’.

It has long been said that “Content is King.” It now seems that in the not-too-distant future, we’re likely to see a swing back to this saying, with more ranking reward being given by Google to those pages with engaging and useful content, rather than content generated with emphasis based on SEO performance only.

If you have a Twitter or Facebook account, or any other social media channels you’re working with, but don’t have social sharing buttons on your site/blog yet, then get them or lose out.

Interaction through social signals, such as content sharing from a post or page, which you do via social sharing buttons, is going to become more and more important. Yes, you need to be setting up a presence on social media, if you haven’t already. Every time a user shares your content it’s another ‘tick’ for quality. By ‘liking’ or sharing web content a user is applying their own quality rating. That’s what Google wants to see, approval of content by content users.

I’m still amazed at the number of businesses who are kidding themselves thinking they can manage quite well without social media. I’m afraid that thinking is likely going to cause those businesses to slowly slide into oblivion in organic search engine results because their web content will not be generating those increasingly important ‘social signals’.

Change, when for the better, is good. I, for one, think this coming change will be good. From all I’ve seen, read and heard, the proposed developments in search Algorithms are long overdue and to be applauded. The sooner the better!

What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments!

75 Percent of People Buy Their Home Online – Realtors – Are You Ready?

Real Estate Internet Marketing is gaining a lot of importance these days, and is very important for those engaged in selling real estate online.  According to a survey conducted by a top-rated magazine, more than 75% of people now depend on the Internet to buy their dream home.

Since many Realtors have their own sites on the web with features such as pictures of properties as well as floor plans, it has enabled the potential customers to experience hassle-free home buying.  A website not only allows a Realtor to promote listed properties, but also to promote the services they render.

But, there is such a large number of real estate-related websites that it has now become an overwhelming process for a particular real estate website to get ranked high among the search engine results.  Herein lies the role of real estate internet marketing.

A large number of proven real estate internet marketing techniques are now adopted to improve the ranking of a real estate-related website for better search engine visibility, such as search engine optimization, search engine submission, pay-per-click marketing, link analysis, affiliate marking, and e-mail marketing. Among which, perhaps the most prominent one is search engine optimization, or SEO.

Real Estate SEO contains a series of strategic and technical solutions including a selection of the most appropriate keywords, preparing search engine friendly content, linking and submitting the website to major search engines like Google and Yahoo.  All of these factors work together to enhance a real estate agents’ website ranking in the search engines for real estate related keywords.  Although real estate SEO work can be done by business owners themselves, it is better to seek assistance of an experienced SEO firm.

A reputable SEO firm conducts a detailed analysis on your real estate business as well as your target markets, apart from structuring your real estate website with appropriate search terms, synchronizing Meta title and descriptions, and formulating link popularity programs.

Any Realtor who’s serious about competing online should move forward with proven real estate marketing techniques like real estate SEO.

Until next time…

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Guest Articles Welcome

If you are a blogger and have a topic you think would be of interest to our readers, contact me directly using the “Ask A Question” form on the right hand menu and tell me about the article you would like to have published here. I’ll consider your article and get back to you with details on getting your article published to our readers.

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Articles we are most interested in include topics and tips on: Blogging, SEO, Social Networking, Business Tips, Tech Tips, and general tips and information for website owners.

We reserve the right to accept or decline any article, based on the content of the article.

Articles that will definitely be rejected are articles that are full of spammy types of links and sales ploys. This is not an invitation for spammers to sell their junk, so don’t even bother. But if you have a genuine help tip article, a link to your website will be permitted.

This offer for guest articles may be discontinued at any time, so contact me right away if you have an article you would like to have considered for our “Guest Articles” list.

Until Next Time…

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12 Secrets to Website Success

Here are twelve secrets to website success.

1. Have specific goals for your website.

2. Know your customer or site visitors and what they want to get out of your site.

3. Have pages dedicated to specific items or subjects the customer or site visitor is looking for.

4. Don’t make the home page of your site a “flash” animation. Web visitors routinely skip those animations (or just leave) because they aren’t interested in pretty graphics. They want facts. If you’re going to use flash to demonstrate your product (or a video) let people choose to view it, don’t force them to.

5. Make it easy for visitors to find what they want. Use a simple navigation structure, and if you use drop down menus, make sure visitors can actually click on the links without the drop down rolling up before the person hits the link they want.

6. If you’re selling products, have category pages plus individual pages for each type of product. (For example, if you are selling furniture, have one page for dressers with links to individual pages for different types and manufacturers of dressers, such as Broyhill, Lane, etc.)

7. Pay attention to search engine optimization (SEO) in setting up pages. The more closely the page title, page description, and keywords match what someone would search for, the more likely they’ll find the website, and the more likely they’ll buy whatever product is advertised on the page. Don’t stuff your keyword tags with words that aren’t relevant.

8. Have a means for legally and ethically capturing visitors’ email addresses so you can contact them in the future.

9. Plan to advertise and market your site on an ongoing basis through all methods available to you. Don’t think that just putting up a website is the end, it’s only the beginning!

10. Track and measure traffic, bounce rates, sales conversions and progress.

11. Ask for feedback from site visitors and stay in contact with those visitors (those who gave you their email addresses) on a regular basis so they remember to come back to your website.

12. Keep your content updated. Unlike blogs, where content is constantly being updated (or at least it should be), websites tend to be more static. But the days of slapping up a website and just leaving it for months (or years) are gone. You must be willing to update your site and give visitors a reason to keep coming back. Otherwise, they won’t, and you’ll be constantly faced with the battle of finding new customers and clients, over and over.