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Pat Marcello

SEO Strategy #1 for 2014: Be a Rock Star!

Pat Marcello

Hummingbird, Panda, Penguin and all the other Google algorithm iterations and tools are seemingly designed to make SEOs anxious.

Guess what? It’s totally working.

I just read an article that said link building may be going away and that Hummingbird is starting to show signs of that. Google may no longer be counting links as part of its algorithm. Can that be true? Hmm...

So, what’s Google up to? Are they legitimately trying to send all SEOs into a tailspin, or just get rid of us entirely?

In my humble O, I think it’s the latter. Google says they appreciate proper SEO, but in reality, they want “natural.” Natural has become their mantra. So, what does that mean?

It means they want us to be excellent!

Someday, it won’t be about link building, finding just the right keywords or making any SEO adjustments to our pages at all. They want us to be rock stars. And if we’re not, we’ll have no place in their SERPs.

So, OK, how do we do it? How do we make ourselves so great that we stand head and shoulders above the rest? Here are some things you can do to make yourself a budding rock star, but it won’t happen overnight:

1.      Provide Great Content

rockstar1Yes, we have talked about this many times in the past months, but it still holds. Think of yourself as a movie or television producer. You need to write well, make great videos, killer podcasts, infographics, etc. that tell an interesting story. Or give great interviews to people that matter. Or hire people to create killer content for you.

Why? Creating great stuff isn’t just for search spiders; it’s for people.

You need to get people to love you and follow you and comment on your words, and basically just LOVE your stuff. If they don’t and you’re not getting traffic? You need to re-think your methodology.

It’s all about what sells. It’s content marketing, not just producing any old dried-out, worn-out content. As with any marketing, your content should be tested.

For example, if you take the time to make an infographic, why not split test one version against another? You can test size, headline, colors, etc., just as you would test a sales page. And keep testing until you find a clear winner with statistical significance to be sure your testing matters.

However, test only one thing at a time if you’re doing simple A/B testing. Otherwise, you’ll never figure out what worked and what didn’t. You can set up multivariate testing, using Google Analytics, too. It’s up to you. It’s important to start testing pretty much everything you do and continually improve your marketing. Very important.

If you’re adding content to a website or to Facebook, see how folks responded to it. Did they share more often when you concentrated on one topic more than others? Do more of that. You have to be aware of people’s reactions to what you produce. If you’re just producing content for the sake of producing it without testing and without clear goals for your content piece, you’re wasting valuable time.

rockstar3Set up a spreadsheet. And track the type of content to the number of likes, +1s, shares, re-pins, etc. It should be pretty easy to see what’s working and what’s not.

For example, I notice that when I write about writing, I get a much better reaction because people want to know how to write better, what to write and where to find ideas. So, you see me writing about those topics and their relation to SEO a lot. I know it’s what people want from me. I have the expertise and love to share it.

What are you an expert in? What can you share? How can you HELP other people? It’s really all about that in the end, right?

2.      Have Products That People Talk About

It’s not as important to have "unique" as it is to have "buzz." Think about Amazon.com. You can get most of their books at any other book store online, but what’s the first book store you think of? Most of us would say, “Amazon,” even though they sell a lot more than just books alone these days.

What’s the gaff?

None, really, but they do have excellent customer service, a website that’s easy to navigate, and they’ve been around a very long time – eons in Internet years.  Plus, they learned to diversify and to use other sellers to broaden their range.

And they have word-of-mouth goodness. Just hearing, “I got it on Amazon,” people understand what that means, whether they’re computer gurus or grandmas and grandpas down the street. People love their service.

logo_smAnother way to make inroads in commerce is by being unique. Stores with interesting handmade items do well, too. Take Vvego International, for example. You can go to their site and find men’s wallets, belts and carry pieces that you can’t buy anywhere else. They’re cool, and although Vvego is a newer online store, people love them. They have great reviews and they’re most definitely building great word-of-mouth around the world. The company is a budding rock star.

Another thing that makes the Vvego website great is the site copy. It’s not your everyday, boring sales pitch. It’s personal and entertaining.

Think Geek does the same type of thing, but they’re much older, much better known and tons of fun. I mean, if you’re into sci-fi and/or fantasy, or if you just like interesting things, Think Geek has lots of products to assuage your inner nerd. I read their weekly newsletter just to see what the copy says, and I’ve bought several things there for gifts and for myself, just because the way they present their stuff is so quirky and fun.

Today, it’s all about being cool. Be good. Be cool. Be fun.

3.      Be Social

There’s no doubt anymore that social media is important to search. Though Google denies it, Google+ matters. So does Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest. (In my mind, the Big Red 6.) But smaller social sites have impact as well, as long as you’re developing relationships and participating in them.

It’s about being popular. Post content other than just your own. Make friends. Share their stuff, too. Just being there isn’t good enough. You have to participate, and get people to like you and make you important. You have to pour on the old charm, give great info, and make people laugh. It’s not rocket science, but it’s not easy, either. And it takes time – time that most webmasters just don’t have.

If you can’t do that, you’re sunk. Or, you need to pay someone to do that for you.

rockstar2Way back in 2009, I wrote, “Social media is becoming so important that I can see the day when Web 2.0 might overtake traditional search.” That was when we still called it Web 2.0, you’ll notice. And… I was right, in a way.

I mean, most of us are not using Facebook to search the Web. We’re still using Google and any SEO worth his or her salt optimizes for Google. But, social signals are UBER-important now. Social media has taken over the lion’s share of what search is all about. You MUST be social.

And no matter what you’re selling or trying to promote online, you should try to be funny often. Humor is good. I’m not suggesting you write comedy or be quick with the quips because that’s very hard to do, but people LOVE to smile.

Think of people, who are in the colder, grayer climes right now. They love to wake up, look at their Facebook pages, and find stuff that makes them laugh in their news feed. Or they go to YouTube to watch something funny, and on and on. People need release and breaks from the humdrum. So, being business-y all the time isn’t cool.

In fact, selling on social media isn’t cool at all. I get really miffed when people pull me into their sales pitch by tagging me in a photo on Facebook. I’m sorry, but I just take them out of my news stream or even de-friend them, if they do it all the time and nothing else. Now and again is one thing, but every post? Not so much. Bad, bad, bad.

Social media is for building relationships and for making connections, not for selling. If you’re doing that, please STOP! You probably won’t sell much that way, anyhow, and you’re no doubt frustrating the heck out of your social friends.

Instead, give them the best Oatmeal comic of the day or a cute cat video. Just because you’re in business, doesn’t mean you have to be boring. Boring is always bad, no matter what you’re doing.

So, there you have it. As Bill & Ted would say, “Be excellent to each other!” If you keep that in mind and give your potential raving fans stuff they can love, you’re on the road to search success.

Yeah, I know; it doesn’t sound much like search. But that’s where we’re headed. You’d be wise to pay attention.

Author bio:

Pat Marcello is the President and SEO Manager for MagnaSites.com, a full-service digital marketing company. Follow her antics on Facebook, where she hangs out during most of her social time. Pat's last article for SEMrush was "How to Write Engaging Content that People Actually Want to Read."

Pat Marcello is President and SEO Manager at MagnaSites.com, a full-service digital marketing company that serves small- to medium-sized businesses. Follow her on FacebookTwitter or Google+. Pat’s last article for SEMrush was "Google's Fetch and Render: Why It's Important."

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