There are many SEO’s and industry leaders out there that made their SEO predictions for 2011. These predictions are always very interesting, whether they turn out to be accurate or not and serve the greater purpose of giving you the outline of potential new Online Marketing strategies that can be tried and tested during the course of the year.
SEO & SEM is still by far the most effective and efficient form of marketing when it comes to Return on Investment (ROI). So if you haven’t considered SEO for your online business, I strongly recommend you do so today.
There are certain definite do’s and don’ts that we can take away from what we have seen in the industry during 2010 so let’s jump right in.
- Keyword research and industry analysis: As always, in-depth and ongoing keyword research is the most important element in the world of SEO & SEM. Targeting the wrong keywords will obviously lead to your SEO campaign being a miserable failure even if you do most of the right things throughout the rest of your campaign. If you experienced dismal sales and lead generation through SEO during 2010, it may be time to reevaluate your keyword targeting. Take location modifiers into consideration when you are targeting the local market.
All of this research will ultimately be the driving force behind every additional element optimized for your site such as:
- Title Tags – Seen by many as the most important onsite SEO factor.
- Description Tags – Accurate and unique descriptions are still important.
- Image Alt Tags – Name your images accurately using natural keyword placement, but only if it makes sense. No keyword stuffing, seriously.
- Headings Tags – Not only does heading tags play an important role in search engine rankings, but also adds a logical and readable structure to your copy for your site visitors.
- Internal Linking – Build the strength of your targeted keywords and create sensible and valuable links to pages of interest.
- Content Updates and continuous content addition: Use your updated keyword selection to tweak the existing content of your site. If you don’t already utilize the power of a company blog for your website, get on it today! Creating industry specific content will allow you to give your readers valuable information and in doing so you will be able to strengthen your selected keyword’s ranking power by creating a well thought out internal linking structure.
- Ongoing link acquisition, the right way: The word ‘Link Building’ should be officially removed from the SEO glossary, let’s call it link acquisition instead. A large percentage of your efforts should be placed on creating linkbait that will entice users to link to you. Link bait can be created in every form, from content creation and placement to building a widget or launching a kick ass competition. Guest blogging as well as social media marketing are more great ways for link acquisition.
- More than ever, SEO must be done for the user first: It’s all about the level of value that you provide in your industry with valuable information. Having a user centric outlook on your SEO efforts will give the Search Engines one of the most highly regarded factors in determining rankings for your site – value and relevance.
Social Media is here to stay and if you haven’t yet done the research and implemented a targeted Social Media marketing strategy, don’t get left behind.
- Choose the best social platforms for your industry and website: Doing the research and having a clear strategy for your Social Media campaign is the determining factor.
- Don’t get distracted by what’s shiny and new: Sure, keep track of new developments and continuously research the validity of these platforms or strategies for your industry and website, but don’t stop doing what you’re doing.
- Social Media is not about advertising, it’s about participation and listening: Social Media is a great tool for getting to know your target market better, building strong social connections by way of value and only then trying to influence. This creates a lasting social community that will keep coming back for more. As in real life, word of mouth is extremely powerful, online is just more targeted and far reaching.
- Spamming: It’s just not worth all the effort; it won’t bring you anything but negative results in the long term. SEO is about building a lasting and powerful relevance and value for your site over a long period of time.
- Keyword Stuffing: Your Meta tags are not the place to stick all your keywords or overdo keyword usage. It looks horrible to a user and it won’t bring you any success in the search engines. It is however a certainty that you will be negatively influenced through this practice.
- Over Optimization of your Content & Keyword density: Content is for the user and as a user there is nothing worse than reading keyword dense content that doesn’t read well and was obviously not created for me, but for the SE’s.
- Link Building: This will continue to be the biggest ranking determination factor for the foreseeable future. Updating your strategies for acquiring links is essential however. Stay away from those outdated and pretty much worthless link building strategies of days gone by.
- Link Schemes
- The obvious way of Reciprocal Linking or Link Exchangs – Reciprocal Links can be considered if you keep it to a tiny percentage of your link profile and more importantly, if it adds value. Oh yes, and not on a dedicated links page, duh.
- Three way linking
- Blog & Forum Spam
- Thousands of Directory Submission
And definitely remember this:
- Page Rank is not a tool for measuring the success of your site. The mere fact that PR gets updated about twice a year renders it pretty much useless.
The final word:
It’s about more than rankings: The ultimate Goal of any SEO & SEM campaign is leads and sales. You may be doing everything right to target those big industry keywords and even getting the rankings, but if you do not have a conversion strategy and clearly defined goals, those keywords won’t bring what you hoped for. Make sure that your site is geared toward higher conversion rates on every level.
I would love to hear your opinions on what you believe to be the most important tips and tricks for ever evolving industry in 2011.
Alek Jones is an SEO analyst at Internet Marketing Agency, Networth Media in South Africa and enjoys writing and discussing all things SEM.