SEO is getting harder

Wordle: SEO is gettig harder

One of the highlighting areas that I gathered from the survey was that a huge majority of you wanted this blog to be updated more regularly. And this is an extremely fair point, so here goes:-

SEO is Getting harder…

Unless you have been living under a rock you know this already, SEO is harder but what things do webmaster have to do differently now vs to “the good old days”. Not only that what aspects are not working now? I have been doing a LOT of research and trying desperately to keep up with a lot of these developments, and the following is an synopses (and yes though its long it’s only the summary believe it or not!!) of that research.

The good Old Days

Here is a list of things that are now out of fashion, due to them either being directly penalized or with the threat of it looming much like the threat of the blog networks was looming.

-Keyword stuffing content
-site wide footer links (I know you are going to give examples of it still working but this is definitely on its way down)
-Embedding links in Widgets (damn this used to be one of my primary methods!!)
-Huge scale article spinning (WP robot anyone)
-Comment Spam (when was the last time you ranked a new site with comment spam, Scrape box anyone?)
-Mass Directory listings (depends on what you mean by mass, and depends on what purpose you use it for so put this in a maybe pile)
-Paid networks..(will duh….)

All the above were designed to be workarounds for google ranking algorithms, as the algorithms get smarter so should you..
SEO Task List (Encore)

Site Speed..

Regular reader/s know that I have been harping on about site speed for a long time, please read (http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/04/using-site-speed-in-web-search-ranking.html) and section where they now categorically say site speed is a factor in search engine rankings, is it a huge ranking factor then my research shows no, but is it a factor definitely.

I also happen to think there is some for of varying scale here if you have a site that is built for content and not a scraper site then you will invest in its speed and hosting especially if you go over 1000 pages etc, so I think site speed becomes more critical with more pages you have (just my gut feeling really). Consider site speed now, especially if you are thinking along the lines of authority sites. Some of the non Google alternatives in site speed are:-

• YSlow by Yahoo (plugin or command line)
• WebPageTest.org (visual graph of load times by element)

Brand anyone?

Smaller sites are out….really, well no but to make a smaller site “algorithm proof” you will have to invest in a lot of content and a lot of work more specifically lot of money. Building a brand brings with it some recognized authority, and feeling of familiarity with our prospective clients (something that just can not be underestimated) .

Obviously the bad part is that if you have done poor link building or you think that creating a press release (of I have a press release service now don’t you know!!) is the only things you need to do to create a brand, then this is a losing battle anyway.

As my Seo consultancy has evolved I am exposed to bigger clients with bigger budgets and few with entire departments of PR people (and by department I don’t mean the owner or his cousin sitting around and calling themselves head of pr! )

At this moment I would say if I had an EMD vs a Brand I will go after the Brand EVERYTIME, its just gives me more flexibility, period. The above task is so easy to say “go and build a brand” but how difficult is it to achieve? And more importantly how difficult is it to achieve based on a small budget!! The answer un surprisingly is very and almost impossible.

If you are thinking about brands then read the following:-

http://www.seobook.com/potential-brand-signals
http://www.seobook.com/learn-seo/infographics/brand-branding-brands.php
http://www.cision.com/ (if you have the money and resources!!)
VOCUS (PRweb owners..)

If you are in the brand business, or thinking of taking the leap then I can not stress enough how important it really is to be media savy, to understand really what it takes to get your news and make it go viral. If you can make one story go viral, and repeat the process then you have done most of the hard work. Unsurprisingly media relations and PR executives are the highest paid individuals in a given company, I am now working with several firms with their own Pr Executives and I a gaining new appreciation of what they do and how much time it really takes to make one story go viral. A good Pr executive is worth their weight in goal, and learning what they do and how they do it will help anyone market any site GURANTEED.

Not everything is news worthy, and if you are selling motor oil, then having a facebook page on the stuff does not really make sense. I could do ahead and populate it with 15K face book likes and 4K followers, but is there any need? NO

There are two ways to be a brand, one is to go viral which is the most difficult and time consuming to achieve, and this produces the most long term effects. The other is of course link building lol.. and I laugh because though its easier of the two so many people (including myself) fuck it up..

Primarily this is because of the content, and so much that actually goes on the site is regurgitated rubbish, and falls in the section of “fit for purpose” however this is no longer acceptable. Content on sites now MUST be prestine.. it MUST be of the highest quality and MUST tick atleast one box of the below:-

- Be memorable (by wit, or by scandle)
- Be Relevant and informative


There is a reason why so many e-commerce site fail, actually its reasonS but one of the primary is content, how its presented and what needs to be done with it. Branding is difficult and please don’t think I am boasting but I have a client with a monthly budget of $25K for SEO and PR and though I priced him (pre panda) I am struggling to not go on a loss every month due the effort and man power it needs to launch a brand (effectively).

Incidentally we just had one of his stories go viral a month ago, and I noticed his backlinks yesterday he gained 13K links in one month with over 112 varying anchor text all completely natural. His rankings have shot up as a result and he is sitting on bottom of page one for the major term we wanted to rank for. This is after working my company’s collective asses off for a very long time promoting ONE content!! Lol.. It is possible.. and it can happen just believe..

Content

I eluded to this earlier but it really is something that I wanted to address separately. Quality is important, but crap content is still ranking. So why bother? Firstly line algorithmically speaking between crap content and useful content is blurred (remember not talking about manual inspections here). If a content is crap enough it will trigger a filter, trigger enough of these filters and your entire domain could go down.

This is not meant to be a scare you out of your pants tactics, but a fact. I have seen some competitors go into oblivion because of this. Their link profile was ok only think I know was bad was the crap badly spun unoriginal content. I would always advice on DONOT take the risk, as doing it now will affect you down the road and at that point it will be extremely hard to remember why it’s happening! This is especially true for ecommerce sites. There are tricks as to how to rank an ecommerce site effectively, however it probably goes beyond the remit of this article I feel.

Social Integration

I have to mention this really, as the importance of this just simply cannot be stressed enough. Bing and Google have openely stated that they consider social signals as ranking factors. Certainly true for Facebook and twitter, jury is out on Google +. Does this mean to ignore G+ Nope most definitely not, sad reality is that Google have enough resources to really hype G+ and I see no reasons why they won’t do that.

As they have stated the importance of social signals and then released their own signal it stands to reason they are in it for the long haul. Correctly targeting content and engaging users to promote your content is the way to go (remember to like and tweet this damn it!!)

Happy users?

This is one of my pet peeves to be honest. I have been after learning this and more importantly click though optimization for some time, so much so that I personally offered to work for free for a well known company, and do any donkey work in an attempt to learn from the best (I was rejected by the way lol…)

I have spend a lot of my time, money and energy on this in hopes to become better at User experience and click through optimization techniques. I really feel books can be written on this topic and to be honest they have been written. If you are not looking at wasy of reducing your bounce rate or improving your CTR’s then you are already dying a slow painful death. After traffic it is the biggest factor in profits, and it even over takes traffic in certain cases.

Happy users are created for few reasons

They trust you

They found what they were looking for

They are “like” you

Notice I said like and trust as two different things, I don’t have to like a few sites to trust them, I LIKE amazon AND I trust them, in the middle of this sandwich is navigation. I pull my hair our (and I don’t have much ahir anyway) when it comes to navigation. Pretty navigation is always good.. but pretty navigation that gets in the way of a user experience is well flawed.

A navigation serves two purpose tell you where you are and assures you that you will get to where you want to go in a very short time. That is it.. Design sites with that in mind and you will be happy, your users will be less frustrated and you will have a direct decrease in bounce rate. I just rank a Kissinsights on one of my more successful sites and this site has bounce rate of 35% which I consider to be good.

The my surprize when i asked the question from my consumers “did you find what you were looking for” a whopping 50% said no..yet they stayed on the site and ploughed along in hopes of finding the right information, because they trusted the authority of the site!

I now ask this question on most of my sites and client sites.. I spent one week going over the navigation architecture of the site, the results were amazing my very large affiliate site conversions went up 5% (not a lot but it’s a lot lol..) and my customer satisfaction went up by a whopping 75% and very few percentage actually complained about not finding the right information.

Navigation really comes not its own on a large ecommerce site and something that needs a lot of time an attention to get right.

I think is there is enough demand I will include bit about e commerce seo, however as I keep saying seo is stilla round, we need to be in teams really to do that. Time of sititng in a bedroom and working way on your seo is gone. There are far too many factors to think about to get any kind of real money from seo and internet in general. Personally I still have no idea when I made the switch to a guy trying to make money online, to a guy with a few staff to a company with clients and “media experts” lol.. oh well onwards and upwards eh…

If you like then talk about it.. it will make me very happy indeed…

2 Comments

  1. Yeah, SEO really is getting a lot harder nowadays. I kind of wish that I started internet marketing when you could get away with throwing up a site that took a few clicks and started making a passive income nearly immediately. Ah well, money doesn’t grow on trees ;)
    Jamie Farrelly recently posted..On Page SEO TipsMy Profile

    Reply
  2. Amen to that. I do lots of affiliate marketing and it certain does seem that each day the
    SEO portion is a real killer now days. Good work, keep it up.

    Reply

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