I’ve found that 9 times out of 10, when a business owner asks about SEO, then she really means online marketing in general. For some reason, probably due to all the hype around Google, SEO is the catch-all phrase for any type of marketing online. So when I hear, “Can you help me with my SEO?” then I know that’s not necessarily a request for search engine optimization services. That’s more likely a request for online marketing help.
By strict definition, this is incorrect. Search engine optimization (SEO) is just a small subset of online marketing. Just like print ads, direct mail, and telemarketing are subsets of traditional offline marketing. However, something very interesting has happened in the evolution of SEO that will forever change its definition. SEO is no longer just search engine optimization.
SEO is No Longer Just SEO
That last sentence probably sounds a bit ridiculous so let me explain. SEO used to be fairly simple. You had your webpage that was optimized for your target keyword, and you had your link building plan to get other websites to link to that page. That was SEO a few years ago.
Then came a flurry of Google updates like Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird. Google+ Local and social media exploded on the scene. And let’s not forget all those mobile and tablet devices. Oh, and even more recently Google Glass and the Google Nexus watch. The pace of change in the online marketing industry is mind boggling.
How have these changes affected the definition of SEO? Well, to effectively optimize a website for search engines, you’ll need to incorporate almost every online marketing tactic!
Want to Stay Competitive?
As I said, to get and stay ranked in Google, you now need a vast array of online marketing tools and skills. It’s not just about website edits and links anymore.
Here’s a small list of the tools and skills you’ll need to stay competitive in Google over the long-term…
1) Conversion Rate Optimization
Conversion rate optimization, or CRO, is the process of improving the design, layout, and copy on your website to increase leads and sales. This is an important factor in SEO because Google is very concerned with website usability. If your website is hard to navigate and your bounce rates are high, then you’re going to have a hard time ranking in Google. Take a look at Google Analytics Experiments if you don’t already have a tool to run A/B split tests. It’s free and pretty easy to use.
A big part of CRO is improving your website copy. Writing for search engines instead of your prospects was never a good idea in the first place. With the Hummingbird update, it’s a complete waste of time. Instead of studying your keyword density, I recommend reading a few copywriting books. It’s critical that you understand your searcher’s intent – and satisfy her intent with your website content.
3) Social Media
It’s impossible to ignore social media. The reality is if your business is not worth talking about, then it’s not worth ranking in Google. And if customers aren’t having a good experience with your business, you’ll have a harder time getting found. That’s the world we now live in, so social media needs to be factored into your SEO. If you’re not already set up, then go create accounts on the top social media sites that make sense for your business. Stay on top of your online reputation, and cultivate a community of fans and followers.
4) Mobile Device Optimization
As more people switch over from desktops and laptops to mobile phones and tablets (and Google-powered glasses and watches), you need to make sure your website is optimized for all these devices. Can website visitors easily navigate your website using their index fingers on a small mobile screen? In most cases the answer is no and that’s going to hurt your SEO efforts. DudaMobile offers free, fast, and easy mobile websites. Or for a more seamless solution, ask your webmaster about responsive design.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but I think I’ve made my point. SEO is still only a subset of online marketing, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. SEO is no longer just SEO.
So what does this mean for you? If you want to outrank your competitors, you can’t rely on yesterday’s SEO tactics. You need to pay attention to what Google wants today and where Google is headed tomorrow. And increasingly, Google rewards websites that are following online marketing best practices in general – including the 4 areas I listed above.