Welcome to 2012, everybody! We hope your holiday festivities were smashing successes, and that you brought in the New Year with joy, appreciation, and excitement for an even better 2012. Most of us have made New Year’s resolutions to exercise, eat better, overcome irrational fears (okay, maybe that’s just me) and more- so, here’s to sticking to all of these resolutions and more. With new goals to achieve and a clean slate with which to approach them, we should all enter this New Year with excitement for many promising days ahead, especially when it comes to working extra hard to triumph in a bad economy.
If you are a small business owner, likely your number one resolution is to bring in more business this year – in fact, if you are a business owner of any size, this is likely your goal. With that in mind, as many of you know, one way to approach this is to invest time, money and energy into Search Engine Optimization. Though there will undoubtedly be more challenges to face in 2012 as SEO grows and evolves (and as Panda updates continue to be run), ultimately, we all adapt and work together to achieve a better, more user friendly internet experience. The most important thing to remember going into 2012 is that the game has changed. It’s not about just link-building anymore; it’s about branding, content, social media, and more.
SEO in 2012
So, keeping all of that in mind, I’ve drummed up six things SEOs should adhere to as they get back to work after the holidays (at least, these are the factors the folks here at ESI are focusing on!):
- On-Page Factors: Make Sure Title Tags and Meta Descriptions Read Well
In much earlier posts, we have discussed the importance of optimizing your title tags and meta-descriptions. Just as a refresher, your title tags should include at least one (if not two) of your high-priority keywords, and should not exceed a 70 character limit. Your meta-description, which should be under 157 characters, should also include these keywords, as well as a call to action. But what’s important about creating these important elements for your website in 2012? Gone are the days of the mechanical title tags and meta-descriptions: conversational, catchy and well-written title tags and meta-description are incredibly important for SEO success now. For those who were reluctant to spend a little extra time on these on-page factors, carving out creative time to do so might be a good (albeit, slightly late) resolution.
- Improve the Relevancy Off-Page Factors: Link-Building
Link-building is as important as ever, but with the Panda update, higher quality links are paramount. Further, these links should be relevant to your site, and spammy links should be avoided at all costs. Further, rather than simply building links for your highest priority keywords, be sure to focus on branding as well. Further, make sure to go after quality over quantity when it comes to link-building!
- Create High-Quality Content… and Keep Creating!
In my (somewhat crazy) mind, I tend to think that all SEOs have chants continuously repeating in their heads – or, at least they should – to me, “Content is king” is and should always be on your mind if you are an interactive marketer. As Panda continues to be run, content will continue to rein over the land of SEO, and if you aren’t consistently creating fresh and unique content, you will be expelled from the kingdom (too far? Probably – but it’s my first day back, so give me a break!). Create content that users will want to read and engage with, comment on and share with their friends and colleagues (while this is easier said than done, it’s something to strive for. Spend some time getting to know your audience before beginning to write, and you might notice improvement!).
- Implement the Rel=Author Markup
The authority of content has also been important, and will very likely continue to be this year. How do you prove the authority of your content? Well, you (or whoever writes content for your blog) use the rel=author markup (if Google approves you, that is). This necessitates having a Google + profile, and linking it to an author page on your blog. With a clear headshot, someone who has the rel=author tag correctly set up will likely see his or her information show up in the SERPs when his or her blog posts come up in the results.
- Get Social, Especially On Google +
It’s always a good idea to expand your social reach – for marketing and SEO purposes. Think about it – Google wants to create a good experience for the user. Isn’t it evidence that users want to hear from a company, if that company is engaging and interactive with its customers and therefore popular on social media? If, last year, you knew this but didn’t act on it, maybe it’s time to take the proverbial leap of faith and get to work on social media monitoring and marketing. In this case, it’s important to be a social climber!
This is especially true when it comes to Google +, which we know impacts the rankings on the SERPs signed in Google users see. Plus, posts made on Google (like, say, from a business page) tend to show up pretty high in the search results anyways. This is reason enough for both you personally AND your business to have a presence on Google’s social network. Sharing photos, videos and other types of viral content will only contribute to a positive outcome when it comes to climbing the rankings.
- Focus on Local and Mobile
With an ever-increasing number of people using cell phones and tablets to access the internet, SEO has had to adapt to a correspondingly growing local audience. Focusing on local keywords and mobile optimization will be one key to success in the coming year.
But Don’t Forget the Basics
While you’re doing your best to keep up with the changes to Google’s algorithm and to interactive marketing as a whole, don’t forget to stop, breathe, and remember the fundamentals too. SEO is about climbing the organic rankings and putting yourself in front of your potential customers. Always keep the customer in mind, remember to create a website that is both engaging for the user AND satisfying when it comes to the search engines (and not just one or the other), get the important directory listings, and continue to guest-blog. Go for a holistic approach; you won’t find one single smoking gun that will bring you to that coveted number one spot, but rather you will find your success in a balanced combination of a multitude of factors.
If you’re looking for more free SEO tips, updates and information about interactive marketing, come back and revisit our blog for regular updates about what’s going on in the industry. If you have questions that are more specifically related to your company’s SEO efforts, give us a call at 770-481-1766.