Remaining Calm Regarding SEO

By Communications, Corporate Strategy, Media, Social Media

We just got a call from a potential new client that runs a web site. Her site is currently the market leader in our area for her specific area of expertise, but a new competitor has just launched and she was a little worried about how that would impact her. She already has an excellent publishing platform, writes, contributes and shares regularly on the topics her customers care about, and has built all the necessary relationships behind the scenes to support her customers. She has a presence on all the appropriate social networks, but she still felt the need to get in touch with another local “SEO expert” to make sure she was on track.

Whenever I hear that, my neck tightens up.

The bottom line with SEO, just as it was way back in 2007 when this seminal post by Scott Karp was originally created, is that good content and user experience drive links and readers, and links and readers drive good search engine rankings. That hasn’t changed. In fact, Google already hinted at SXSW this spring that if you try too hard to optimize for SEO you could actually LOSE rankings. One thing that HAS changed is that your supporting social media presence is now a big part of how well ranked your site and content remain. Social is tied directly to search results. So what does this really mean and what should you do?

  • Google+ is going to have a huge impact on search results. One way Google can drive adoption of Google+ is to reward participation. What a concept! They have over 90MM users already and they all see personalized search results (SERPs). High participation and large, well-connected circle counts matter in Google’s search rankings. So get on there and start sharing!
  • Conversations and traffic are being emphasized almost more than keywords (which are still really important). The more visibility and connections a piece of content can generate, the better it does for SEO. Social networks are now the primary drivers of those connections.
  • Content remains king. The king is dead. Long live the king! Content has to be fresh, regularly updated, and well-distributed over the social web. So a good content publishing strategy with social distribution is a core competency for your business to develop.
  • Tweets and retweets matter. Google says they don’t directly count tweets in rankings, but a popular tweet containing a link earns a lot of re-publishing across the web that Google does crawl, index and count.
  • Facebook really helps Bing results. Through Bing’s partnership/integration with Facebook, results are massively personalized for any logged in Facebook user. So building a presence and sharing content there is no longer optional.
  • Social content distribution drives awareness and branding, which also drives searches. People just knowing about you and what you think will make them search for you more, yes? It also can lead to more love from the press, who are looking for easy ways to generate stories via social networks and connections.

In the end, it all comes down to content. As usual. If you regularly publish things that are worth reading and sharing and you hook up the necessary social platforms to actually DO that sharing (and enable your readers to help you), you will earn a social search rankings boost, gain natural followers and links, amplify your reach and influence, and bias consumers towards your stuff. And towards your business. All will be well. Deep breaths…


Come for the SEO, Stay for the Relationships

By Social Media

I’ve been at this social media bit for awhile. Longer, in fact, than we called it that. Long enough ago that the word blogger was whispered, like it was cancer.

I’ve adapted to new tools and the updates of existing tools and every day I’ve learned something new. One thing hasn’t changed through all of it though and it’s this: what really matters here are the relationships.

Sure, I might focus my content in a specific area to generate new visitors. I might narrow the focus again to try to attract people who might be interested in my help. But I guarantee it’s the relationship that is formed from the interaction between visitors and content producers that keeps people involved in the conversation.

I read the blog posts of people I’ve talked to on Twitter. I have followed the blogs of people I’ve met in person or heard speak at conferences. I’ve struck up conversation with people because others follow them and talk to them. I’ve been thrilled to pieces when one of the big guys in my industry have replied to something I’ve said.

When there’s something geographically, philosophically, politically, etc. I see that I think will be of interest to them, I share it. They often do the same for me. When there’s something that will benefit them, I reach out. The favor is often returned.

I’ve made real, true friends in this online space, some of them I’m closer to than my own colleagues at work (or at least interact with more often). People I admire and respect — people like Ken Mueller, Matt Ridings, Stephen Bolen (who totally had my back during kayakgate), Eric Kelley (who is totally getting some Gooey Butter Cake from me this week!), my BFF Gini Dietrich and my newest friend Paula Berg.

Today’s food for thought? Don’t lose sight of the big picture when you’re mired in SEO and content development. It’s the people you meet along the way that make all the difference.