SEO and Beyond

May 4, 2010

A common story. The marketing team from Company A recognizes the need for an internet presence. They hire a web designer who creates an awesome (read non-indexable Flash) website and a web developer (usually PHP-MySQL) to do the coding.

Marketing department is very impressed with the final product, and shortly after pushing it live they send a few e-mails out and place some submissions around. Then they sit back and wait. But weeks pass by, then months, and no leads are being generated.

The reason is very simple, the world in general does not know that their website exists. Although search engines may have indexed its pages, they don’t show up when someone does relevant searches related to their business. Relevant in this context means keyword related. You can rest assured that if you own the domain mortgages.com and your website has been indexed, when someone searches for mortgages.com, they will find you in number one position. But, who does ever search for a domain name? Nobody, except perhaps someone trying really hard to find that specific website.

What Internet users really use when conducting a search are keywords, such as “mortgage broker”, “interest rates”, or “line of credit”. And those are the searches where your awesome looking website ranks somewhere around page 50 of the search results.

Very few web designers and developers will ever tell you this. And why should they? They only really care about building web sites. They may make some remarks at some point about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and if pressed some even will appoint themselves as specialists, in order to please the customer. However, the truth of the matter is that although web design and development overlap each other, SEO is a different animal and being a web designers and/or developer is not guarantee of having an idea of how to effectively optimize a website for search engines.

Besides, search engines are getting smarter all the time. Nowadays, when you do a search for “video game” on Google, for example, you get more than just organic results from sites that mention that string of words. What you are now presented with is a broad range of relevant content that includes News, Pay Per Click (PPC), Product Feeds and results from Social Media outlets.

There are three key factors that need to be addressed for any SEO campaign tthat aims to be successful:

  1. Search engine friendliness. This involves site structure components such as indexing friendliness, Flash vs. HTML, descriptive texts for images, etc.
  2. Content. Content is king, repeat that fifty times everyday before you start work. Almost equally important is to have content with the proper keyword density placed in strategic semantic positions, such as titles or headings.
  3. Link building. Having in-bound links adds PageRank and credibility to your site in the eyes of search engines. However, quality here primes over quantity and farm links are definitely a no-no.

Special mention deserves the realm of social media. Never underestimate the power of the likes of Facebook and Twitter. If properly addressed, they can provide a very important flow of visitors to your website. However, any social media marketing campaign needs to go beyond than simply starting a Twitter page and posting your random thoughts.

That’s where Social Media Optimization (SMO), the methodization of social media activity, comes into place.
There are a plethora of social media extensions that can be used to our advantage, such as RSS feeds, social news, community images and videos. Other promotional activities in social media worth considering are networking, blogging, commenting, posting on forums and updating status profiles on social media sites.

Ideally, SEO marketing programs and social media promotions should work together to strengthen each other. A high-quality social media campaign that is interactive and engages audiences can increase in-bound links and improve search engine rankings. At the same time, applying smart SEO practices to social media content will increase the reach and visibility of your social media outreach.

The conclusion is that although basic SEO concepts still apply in today’s world, if you want your Search Engine Optimization to be highly effective, you need to compliment it with smart marketing campaigns that target the new players on the Internet from the so-called Web 2.0 era. As with any other marketing campaign, no matter what medium, it’s very important to always keep your target audience in mind when you are doing a SEO campaign and think of how you can most effectively reach them with messages that appeal to them.