Friday, January 10, 2014

How to Stay On Top of SEO Changes

Panda? Penguin? Palanquin? Trying to stay on top of Google's SEO updates, much less learn what these changes mean for your business, is often a full-time job. However, few small businesses have the resources to keep a full-time SEO expert on staff. In that case, what do you do to ensure that your business gets the SEO rankings it deserves, no matter what Google and the other search engines roll out?

Here are a few suggestions:
1. Don't be spammy -- EVER
Google's SEO updates aren't designed to drive businesses crazy; they're designed to reduce spam. Previous SEO algorithms, for example, ranked websites higher in search results if they had more links spread throughout various other websites. This lead to a proliferation of a very specific type of spam: the fake blog comment. As The Awl notes, this fake blog comment starts with generic, often ungrammatical text such as "So luck to come across your excellent blog" and then ends with a link to another, unrelated site.
Well, Google is now pushing back -- hard -- against this type of blog comment link proliferation. The rule to remember? It is a good idea to learn how to boost your business through specific SEO techniques. It is a bad idea to be spammy about it. Leaving a comment like "So luck to come across your excellent blog" only makes your company look bad, in the end.
2. Connect with the community
What's the best way to boost your website in search rankings? Actually, it's the same way you build customers and make sales: by connecting with your community. As we've seen, time and time again, a clever ad or a thoughtful gesture is quickly retweeted, reposted, and shared among your biggest fans. This type of work not only brings new customers to your company, but it also increases the number of positive, high-quality links associated with your brand.
In short: by doing the real work of connecting with your community and your target audiences, you not only boost your customer base, but also boost your rankings in search engines. It's a win-win. Now get to work trying to top this week's viral Coke Life ad.
3. Hire outside help
Building your community is possibly the best way to increase your SEO rankings, but it is also important to understand exactly what search engines want. What is a long tail link? How do you use site metadata to boost targeted location results? What really makes a good blog post headline?
If you don't know all the ins and outs of Google's latest SEO update on your own -- and you probably don't -- it's time to hire some outside help. On their blog, the SEO company eReach Consulting notes that " it’s important to go beyond general on-page and off page optimization." So it's vital that 
the person or team you hire have the connections and existing knowledge to make things happen efficiently for your business.

By hiring SEO consultants, your company gets the benefit of working with people who truly understand SEO, without the overhead involved in hiring a full-time SEO expert.
4. Understand what SEO can and can't do
Many business owners assume that their goal is to rank on the first page of Google searches for a single word, such as "pizza" or "realtor." However, that's not how search works any more. People search in terms of questions: "define residential zone," "what is the best pizza place in Hartford," etc. Google even helps people auto complete their search results into specific questions, for which it then provides specific answers.
Your SEO goal is to be the top answer to a specific question. That's how SEO works now, and how your future customers will find you.