SEO is an Important Part of Any Internet Marketing Strategy. BUT…
For Any Commercial Organisation to Solely Rely Upon SEO for Long Term Success It’s Important to Recognize SEO Shortcomings…
Ever since 2001 I have been deeply involved in search engine optimization.
Nowadays I am normally reluctant to take on any stand alone SEO opportunities that come my way for the simple reason I cannot offer, with my hand on my heart, anything of significant long term value. What I can do however is integrate SEO with Google’s Adwords and use these techniques to significantly enhance any Adwords campaign.
For commercials organisations embracing Google Adwords it is vital that good SEO principles be built into any web site design and preferably before the Adwords campaign actually starts. Failure to do this will probably result in low quality scores which in practice mean higher click costs and less coverage (ie frequency of ad display).
The single most important route to long term successful SEO strategies is to build lots of well constructed relevant pages and at the same time gather links form 3rd party sites and preferably sites on related topics. Link building takes considerable effort to get meaningful success.
Since 2006 I have seen a number of things happen…
1. What was easy to accomplish using SEO is no longer easy. This is especially true if a website wants to compete in the US, UK, European, Australian and other competitive markets. It is still (but I’m sure not for long) quite easy to optimize for South African .co.za domains in many online markets.
2. The very basics such as title tags, keyword density, liberal use of keywords in headline tags, interlinking of websites, site maps are just not as effective as used to be the case. In fact some of these techniques, such as excessive site interlinking, are now penalized by Google.
3. The competition for free search places has increased dramatically and will continue to do so. This factor alone makes any serious focus on an SEO as THE online strategy dubious in the least.
4. Ecommerce sites are being squeezed out of the free results pages in favour of excellent content driven sites such as Wikipedia
5. Getting external links from 3rd party websites with similar themes has been the most important requirement for SEO success for a long time … yet achieving these links has become next to impossible as website owners have woken up to the value of NOT providing links.
6. Directories as a relatively easy source of links have, almost without exception, been dramatically downgraded by Google.
7. Latent Semantic Indexing as used by Google has resulted in the need to create even larger (in terms of numbers of webpages) websites to take advantage of the long tail keywords that more and more people are using to search.
8. More than 50% of searches made every day are unique… how on earth is it possible to optimise using SEO for this kind on behaviour?
9. The vast majority of searches today are 3 or more words in length (called Long Tail Keywords). The only way to attempt to optimise for this situation is to create massively large sites which are continually updated.
10. Today the basic principles of SEO are as sound as ever (get my free book… they’re all there). It’s just that these factors represent something like 10% of the factors taken into account when Google ranks a webpage… especially in competitive markets.
11. SEO must nowadays never be seen in isolation as a suitable internet marketing strategy. Every web page built should of course include the basic SEO factors. And of course websites should continually be increased in size with good relevant content as a matter of course.
12. Much is being made of using Social Media to obtain links. The fact is that such use, from an SEO perspective, is an attempt to influence a search engine result and its inevitable result is that Google will downgrade at the very least any link value associated with such artificial use of linking structures. Google have already made the obtaining of links from Blog comments worthless in most cases (do a search for “nofollow” on Google and see what I mean).
13. It is impossible to guarantee any high ranking position on Google for these basic reasons … such rankings are beyond the control of ANYBODY except Google.
14. The question to everybody involved in internet marketing is: Is your strategy built upon SEO where cost is measured in time to create large content rich websites and where medium to long term results are beyond your control and where your influence on results is minimal?
15. Or is your strategy built around Pay Per Click (PPC using Google Adwords) where, if you know what you’re doing, control is mainly exercised by yourself and where rankings can be built within hours and where you can choose to be number 1 if you so wish? In this latter scenario the cost, on the whole, is financial.
16. The answer, in my opinion, is that a mix of SEO and PPC is the right strategy but some 90% of the budget (real cost and cost of time) should be directed where you have control and that is to PPC.
The 2 Vitally Important Factors That Will Determine High Rankings in Free Google Search… but for how long?
Large volumes of well written, well structured on topic and themed content … hundreds and maybe thousands of web pages. An ongoing commitment to keep adding content is also necessary. It’s too expensive to hire good writers.
Large numbers of incoming links from on-topic websites in all but the smallest of markets. The only way to do this these days is to buy links and Google has stated quite clearly that it frowns on such behaviour. Many websites have been badly hurt by Google’s cracking the whip in this area.
Google makes no money directly from providing free search results and it is highly probable that commercial organisations will be almost completely squeezed out of free search in the future.
The SEO Community
Next time you’re looking for an SEO to optimise your website ask the following 3 questions…
- Who will create the large amount of content needed to stand a chance to succeed in SEO and who will continue to add content over a long period? This is where the real cost and hard work lies.
- Who will generate the large number of links (not paid links) required on an ongoing basis?
- What kind of results will they guarantee?
If the SEO is not doing this then what is being done for the fee charged? Any offer to provide a site submission service to hundreds, maybe thousands of search engines, is a waste of time. Don’t fall for this one as a value added service. In reality there are 3 search engines Google (more than 70% of all searches) with about 20% shared between MSN and Yahoo. It’s easy to submit sites to these search engines and takes a couple of minutes.