After reading an article on Forbes website discussing What SEO will look like in 2013, I got thinking about the role of SEO in today’s marketing and advertising world and what it is evolving into. In business, stagnation is death–and nowhere is that more true than in online marketing.

Google Panda and Penguin updatesSo I wanted to talk about some of the base elements of online marketing and how they have changed since Google’s Panda and Penguin updates. But more importantly, I wanted to discuss how to optimize these elements going forward and what a well-conceived marketing strategy needs to consider in order to stay ahead of the curve.

Keyword Targeting

The SEO norm used to be targeting a narrow, very specific list of keyword phrases that had high search volume for a business’ industry. However, the search engines’ view of this is evolving and expanding. It is more important now to cast a wider net, to include a greater range of keywords relevant to the business, and to think more about a searcher’s intent. A well-monitored PPC campaign can provide valuable data on Click-Thru and Conversion Rates to help bring clarity to the campaign of tomorrow.

Visitor Experience

Old-school SEO was solely focused on crawler experience and did not take into account human User Experience (UX). Most SEO considerations had to do with code: meta tags, alt tags, keyword density and the like. It was assumed that sites would be viewed on computer monitors, so site layout was designed for large format viewing. Page load times were not taken into account by search engine algorithms.break away from the pack online with SEO

That has all changed. We are taking our web interaction on the go with us. More and more time is spent browsing on smart phones and tablets, and less time is spent in front of a desktop. While title tags are still essential, a forward-thinking SEO needs to be concerned about page load times, pages viewed per visit, responsive web design to optimize the mobile viewing experience, as well as visitor funnels and calls to action.

Vital On-Site Optimization

  • Content should be compelling and interesting. Site text should be written for the human visitor; it should interest them, and compel them to take action.
  • Search engines are smart enough to calculate keyword density, so unnatural and repetitive use of keywords will prompt red flags not only by the search engines, but your human visitors as well.
  • When thinking about site content, think beyond the text. Using a plethora of content such as videos, internet memes, infographics, downloadable documents, as well as podcasts can greatly enhance the visitor experience. This will thus increase the likelihood the visitor will click through more pages of the site, submitting contact data, or even making a purchase. Just remember your alt tags.
  • Title tags are headlines–write them well. Grab visitor interest and to sell your product or service. And stop stuffing them with keywords.
    Learn about Schema.org and then use it. Anytime all three major search engines collaborate on something, you had better be paying attention.

Conclusion of Part 1

The basic take away is this: search engines are getting smarter, more intuitive, and their respective algorithms are taking in much broader considerations in their quest to determine authority and relevance. To this end they are striving for authenticity; the gap between human UX and search engine UX is narrowing. Build your site and optimize it for a superior human experience, and the search engines will reward you.

Come back next month for Part 2 where I will address the near future of off-site optimization.

Jamie Bates