Getting SEO right in 2013
The work of an SEO agency is constantly evolving thanks to changes in search engine algorithms. Staying on top of these changes is becoming an increasingly difficult and time consuming challenge for businesses and SEOs. However, it's an important challenge to overcome to successfully achieve the top rankings on the major search engine results pages, as these positions promise the higher click through rates, which in turn promises more opportunities to increase leads and revenue from your digital marketing strategies.
A 2011 study in to search engine click through rates by Slingshot suggested that 83% of B2B buyers search online before purchasing a product or service and that around 52% of them will only click on results from the first page of the search results.
So what will businesses and SEOs have to focus on in 2013 to maintain their exposure on that coveted first page of the search engine results?
Start with the basics
Some traditional elements of SEO are still essential and seen as best practice so ensure that the you:
- Check your meta-data, alt tags and header tags.
- Do your keyword research before writing concise, engaging, keyword-rich content that demonstrates value to your visitors.
- Make your website easy for users and search engine spiders to navigate - a sitemap can be of great use to both.
Publish fresh content regularly
Google regularly updates its search algorithms to ensure we find only the most relevant information relating to our search queries. With each update Google is getting better and better at returning information that is most relevant to our interests and, as Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, has rather scarily pointed out, they more or less know what we are thinking about.
Those B2B websites that update their content regularly with the latest news, insights and information on their businesses and related industries will be rewarded with the premium positions in the search engine results pages, which of course will translate into the lion's share of search traffic. There's also the added benefit of positioning yourself as an industry thought leader.
It's not quite as simple as including bundles of fresh new content though. It should also be of value and interest to your readers. Content that isn't engaging or valuable will lead to higher bounce rates on your website, which the search engines will notice. This will eventually lead to unfavourable rankings in the search engines if it persists. This is why 2013 could see increase collaboration between SEO agencies and PR agencies, as it is the latter that truly has it's finger on the pulse of engaging news and stories.
Insights and trends
As Google rewards more fresh, relevant, quality content there is a distinct opportunity that is presented by tools such as Google Analytics, Google Insights and Google Trends. These tools give you a glimpse in to present and rising hot B2B topics and popular search terms.
Analysis of the data provided by these tools can give you some indications of what search terms and topics you should be writing about, as a means to increasing web traffic and leads to your website, blog or news page.
If Google wants more fresh content on a more regular basis, then give it to them! Just be smart about it and you could really see the benefits. In light of the most recent Google algorithm updates (randomly named as the Panda and Penguin updates), regular use of the analytics tools mentioned above will really set smart SEO agencies and the businesses they work with ahead of the competition.
Many B2B businesses are still experimenting with B2B social media campaigns, unsure of their value and effectiveness within their digital marketing strategies. As far as I'm concerned the case for going social is simple. Social media offer B2B marketers international exposure and a great way of organically building high quality links and referral traffic to your website.
Worldwide social media usage statistics speak for themselves:
· Facebook - 900 million active users
· LinkedIn - around 150 million
· Twitter - 140 million users
· Google+ - 90 million users
· StumbleUpon - 25 million users
· Pinterest - 21 million users
· Digg - 4.6 million
Social networks provide marketers with a captive audience of hundreds of millions of people worldwide - unparalleled brand exposure and opportunities for word of mouth referrals.
Engagement should be at the front of your game plan. Social Media is about building trust and reputation and sharing valuable knowledge - not selling. So make sure your website is socially optimised - enable users to share your content over their own social networks. Not only will this increase engagement and nurture relationships with your existing contacts but it will also prove to be valuable for increasing new visitor numbers and building links to your website.
Put yourself in your user's shoes
Imagine you are a B2B buyer searching online for businesses that offer the services or products your actual business is advertising and marketing. What kind of keywords and phrases would you search for? What sort of content would you be looking for in return? What would you want to learn and what would make you ultimately pick up the phone to enquire about the product/services in question.
Google's philosophy, illustrated in its recent updates, is to encourage webmasters and designers to create quality content with the user in mind. It's no longer just about optimising html and content for keywords relating to your business. If you create a great user experience with valuable, fresh content that encourages users to browse your website then you will reap the rewards of those premium organic search engine rankings.
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