Tuesday, February 18, 2014

SEO - The Times They are A Changing'

by David Brown
Content marketing consultant

When Bob Dylan wrote the song "The Times They are a Changing' in 1963, he may not have known how it would help to spark the social and political protests at that time. Indeed, it was a turbulent time and many things were "a changin'".

The SEO world is also changing. The acronym SEO means search engine optimization. With all of the abuses that Google has had to deal with in terms of "scammers and spammers", trying to take shortcuts and use unethical methods for page ranking, the new acronym for SEO could be "start everything over".

What Does Google Really Want? 
Google wants authenticity in authorship, credibility in depth of content to demonstrate authority, and not content that is so full of keywords and phrases that it is obvious that it was written "for Google" rather than the public. The search results are changing, and Google has changed the rules on how and what they will display with searches. Top organic listings that were always under the Google Places listings are now shown above them. Relevant images shown as a carousel are streaming across the top of the page. Knowledge graphs show to the right of a search, drawn from Wikipedia or Google Plus.

In a recent webinar by Cyrus Shepard of Moz, he stated that there are six shifts in SEO that are happening. Here's my take on some of the changes and how we can adapt to them in our content marketing plans.

1) Keyword Groups, Long Tails, and What are They Asking ?
Keywords are being grouped together in Google Adwords keyword tool, not only to increase their revenues from related keyword ad search results, but to reflect the real world where there are thousands of "long tail" keywords searches being done that relate to the same concept. To optimize, we need to consider using those longer questions that people type into Google when they are looking for answers on products or services, especially locally. Use the Keyword tool to explore the many 'variations on the theme' in creative uses of keywords for SEO copywriting.

2) Are Links Still Viable?
 If it is true that Google is caring less about links that we create and more about links to our content that others post with comments, sharing, endorsements, or posts, then we need to adjust to their newer "social algorithm", that is giving more credibility to links that are shared rather than created by us. This alone turns the SEO world upside down. You may ask " Does this mean we have to take our quality of content to the next level so people will want to share it and get links that way to optimize with Google?" Yes.

3) What About Authority? 
Authority is a hot buzzword for SEO these days. The way to increase authority with Google is to publish authoritative news, and articles more frequently and with more depth, and link the published content to you as the author. Content marketing has overtaken SEO in this regard, and good SEO is now becoming good content marketing.

4) Markup, Meta Data, Schema - the new "Keywords"? 
Schema is a newer buzzword for coding a page to increase better SEO. It has been around for a while but has recently gained more attention as search results have started to show meta data more frequently across all major search engines. An example is article markup. If the schema for a blog or article is included in the code, then there is a chance for better search engine page ranking assuming all else is equal in content. Meta data are the new keywords for SEO.

Here is a sample of the meta data that have used in the code on this blog.
<div itemscope itemtype = "http://schema.org/CreativeWork"></div>
<div itemscope itemtype = "http://schema.org/Blog"></div>

Use the article and blog schema for all published content.

Check Markup with Google Rich Snippets Tool (in webmaster tools)
Testing the schema markup is easy with Google webmaster tools. Use the rich snippets tool to test your markup for any errors.


5) Show Your Authorship

The author photo that you see next to web site in the SERP (search engine result page) enhances the response of users and increases the number of clicks through. Example, if you did a search for Portland webmaster, you will see my author picture in the search results, ranked number one. Use the author code strategy from your Google Plus account to have your photo rendered in search results. Refer to these blogs for details: 1)  Webmaster Tools Author Information   2) How to Link the Google Plus Profile to the Content that You Create 



6) Improve User Experience of your site or blog to increase "Stickiness" 
It used to be said that a web site was "sticky" if people stayed there for a while. Current metrics such as Google analytics measures the bounce rate (how many just left the home page), time on site, number of pages viewed, etc. They have also expanded this metric to social metrics; i.e. how often was it shared or mentioned, how engaging is it based on user experience and actions?

A lot of web content is just blah, blah, blah. What about engaging titles? Subtitles? copy writing? We will be seeing more sassy and creative content as web sites and blogs compete for the users attention, interest, subscriptions, and eventual conversion to buying products and/or services.

In this blog, instead of just having Bob Dylan's picture at the top, I have added engaging images, as well as important educational information, to keep the reader interested, and hopefully engaged to read until the very end. Thanks for visiting !

There is a great need by small business for SEO professionals to be retained as consultants to improve their authority, content, and page ranking, whether they are competing locally or globally.

The times they are a changin' !