Anyone reading this article understands that on the Internet, things change. Sometimes they change slowly, like search engines incorporating social media influence as part of their algorithm. But sometimes, as with the Panda and Penguin updates at Google, what worked last night may not work today.
Here are five brand tactics that are important to SEO in 2013.
Brand Tactic #1: Build or Repair the Foundation, Architecture and Assurances of Your Website
Keywords still play an important role in your website creation, at least for the time being. That should be the first task you tackle, even before you begin to consider how you want your site to be laid out. Then, build your site around your top phrases. Use them as a foundation for your construction.
The architecture of your website is of high importance, both to visitors and to search engines, and I doubt that will ever change. The easier it is for your visitors to navigate your website, the better, so your navigation must be clear. This is especially true for the newly popular one-page sites, which scroll pages horizontally or vertically. Be sure your navigation is static and clear.
More than ever, Google and its competing search engine buddies want your customers to quickly understand how to get around, to feel safe, and to know how to reach you for questions, comments or complaints.
Brand Tactic #2: Provide Authoritative Content to Grab Visitors On-Site and Off
It’s no secret “Content is King” again, but what kind of content are you providing? If it’s rehashed garbage you wrote before and just moved some paragraphs around (which used to work great), or gave information so general nobody could derive benefit from reading it, you’re most definitely not hitting the mark.
Content needs to come from your authority on a topic and be helpful in solving readers’ problems.
For example, do you know a lot about barrel gardens? If so, share your expertise with the world! If you only chose the niche because some guru told you it’s lucrative, don’t write about it! Instead of trying to fool people into thinking you’re an authority on any topic, it’s important to study what you’re planning to write about first. Put things you learn into practice and then write about what you learned.
Everyone has to start somewhere. So, even if you have only completed one round of planting, you’re a better expert than someone who has never tried barrel gardening at all. The more you do, the more brilliant your expertise. Never think you can’t be an expert at something, unless you really know ZERO about the topic at hand. Then, you’re just another scammer trying to make a buck off someone else’s gullibility. Don’t do it.
You can, however, write about your journey in learning about a niche. Have you ever seen the movie, "Julie & Julia"? It’s the story of a young woman (Julie Powell, a real blogger) who admired Julia Child's cooking so much she decided to duplicate every recipe in Child’s first book. Sometimes she did it well; other times, the recipe just failed. Powell wrote about her journey. She didn’t write about French cooking because she wasn’t an expert, but she was an expert about how her own cooking skills progressed. And look what happened to her! Her blog became a success and was the basis of a movie.
The key is knowing your topic and writing about what you actually know with authority.
Just writing alone won’t keep today’s audiences engaged, though. Your work must be grammatically correct with impeccable spelling. This is very important to search. The days of promoting bad or even atrocious writing and gaining a search advantage are gone, and thank heaven for that.
Brand Tactic #3: Promote Public Awareness of Your Brand
Just because you build a website doesn’t mean they will come. This isn’t "Field of Dreams," and you aren’t Ray Kinsella. You have to work at being recognized.
Put your brand everywhere you can:
- Add your site to human-edited directories. For example, DMOZ (Google’s Open Directory Project). Not every directory is worthy of a link, and adding your site to a poor one could actually do more harm than good. Be sure the directory is updated often, too. I often consult www.Web-Directories.ws, which updates the status of directories regularly and lets you know whether the directories are human-edited and up-to-date, or just spam sites and not worth the effort.
- Have company pages on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, and maintain them. Post to the pages daily and interact with your audience. If you can’t afford the time, pay someone to do it for you.
- Align your brand with sites already respected online. Guest posting or writing articles for sites that are already respected on the web is a great way to improve your own and/or your company’s authority.
- Be sure to add your logo or your image (if you are your brand) everywhere. No avatars allowed. People want to see you and know that real people are behind your business!
- Interact with other high-profile businesses in your industry. Post comments on blogs, on their social media pages, and even write testimonials for products in your niche that you have tried and believe in, especially if you are an affiliate marketer. Never promote a product you haven’t tried and loved. Ever.
Brand Tactic #4: Pledge to Stay on Top of Things
Freshness is something integral to search algorithms these days. If you haven’t written in your blog for a month, it’s time to get something done! I know we’re busy people and we’re all guilty of dropping balls here and there, but freshness is a huge deal right now. You really need fresh content going out on a regular basis.
To have web pages rank well, they have to be updated regularly. If you have a blog, you should be writing at least three times a week, but every day is better. But if you can only write twice a month, do it consistently. Your subscribers count on it.
Stay current in social media, too. I know there are scads of social media sites, but my advice is to pick one or two and be prolific in them. I know I’m on Facebook almost every day, but I have to admit, it’s because it’s where my friends are and where I have the most fun, too.
Google+ is definitely important to Google, and don’t think that your participation isn't considered in their algorithm. Try to post there every day, no matter which other social media site you pick for fun.
I understand there are only so many hours in the day. I get that because I don’t have enough of them myself! But you can hire people to do things for you. Hire a social media person to post to Google+ if you need to, or hire a content production team to write for you. If you don’t have the time, but have the money, you can still make this freshness aspect of brand promotion work for you.
Brand Tactic #5: Earn Links from People Loving Your Brand
Do you think Coke or Starbucks or Target have people that go out and gather links? I’m guessing they have smart SEO people who might be doing some of that for them, but on the other hand, do they really need to? Just because they have a popular brand, they’re probably doing OK in the backlink department. People want to link to them naturally.
That’s exactly what Google wants. Google doesn’t want you out there trying to force backlinks. They want you to “earn” the links by creating killer content people naturally want to link to. Work on the following:
- Research. Get statistics to beef articles up. Give people in your niche information they can use to solve problems and who will want to tell other people about how well your solution worked. I know I do that. When I find a killer product, software or whatever, I love to share. Don't you?
- Visuals. Create visuals that make people think or that help them in ways the written word can’t possibly convey: graphics, video, slideshows, etc. In other words, make people who are looking for information in your niche happy. When you make them happy, they will link to you out of the sheer goodness of their hearts. (Plus, you make them look good, too. How cool is that?)
In 2013, all of these tactics are important to your overall SEO picture. If you’re not doing any of them, you’re probably not looking at very good SERP listings. If you’re doing some of them and not others? Well, you need to get with the program. And if you’re doing all of them? Good on you! Just keep doing what you’re doing and that great, free, organic search traffic will assuredly come your way.
Pat Marcello is the President and SEO Manager of MagnaSites.com, a full-service digital marketing company in Brandenton, Fla.