For the most part, the basics of sound SEO remain the same today and they have for years. You need:
- A large Web site full of pages featuring great/relevant content.
- Search engine friendly site structure.
- Links to your site from relevant/authority Web sites.
These were right in 2000 and they're still right in 2009.
Popularity = Rank
One thing that we've noticed within this past year is the notion that the more popular your Web site is (the more visitors that you have, the more pages those visitors click through, and the longer the visitors stay on your site), the better the likelihood that your Web site will rank. This isn't an altogether "new" notion (Brett Tabke of WebmasterWorld discussed this in 2003), but I've seen more evidence of this within this past year.
The search engines want to provide searchers with the best results possible. How they define "best results" may be up for debate, but they do a pretty good job.
Years ago, you might have to click through 20 pages of search results to find what you were looking for. Nowadays, through better algorithms and personalized search, few will bother to click through to page two of their results. Instead, they'll probably search again using a different keyword phrase.
So, now more than ever, it's a push for the top 10 results in the search engines. Yes, personalization and other factors can determine what the "real" top 10 is. But, generally speaking, if you can follow the practical advice that has been relevant since 2000 and apply what we're seeing as "an important factor," you'll have a greater likelihood of being found within that first page.
A Full Service SEO Initiative
Rae Hoffman (AKA "Sugarrae") recently wrote an excellent piece, "You Don't Need SEO to Rank in Google." This gem of a column provides a case study, which I love, and contains great information that more SEOs should share. Real examples. Validated results. True stories. "Reality" SEO, as it were.
What Hoffman basically shows is that Google will find out that your Web site is popular and rank it when it's relevant for its searchers. She also points out that once the Web site becomes less relevant/less trafficked, rankings begin to fall and traffic drops.
To keep the momentum, you must continue promoting. You must have momentum in your SEO and general marketing efforts. You must keep a steady flow of traffic coming to your Web site.
We (SEOs) have often said that SEO isn't a "set it and forget it" affair. This is truer today than it's ever been. It's incumbent upon you, fellow SEOs, to think "bigger" than you have in the past. You must become more of an "interactive marketing agency."
Synergistic interactive marketing programs are where it's at. Social media marketing, blogging and promotion of your blog, banner advertising, paid search, e-mail marketing, press release copywriting/distribution, and proper SEO -- all of these things together create a full service SEO initiative.
New and Interesting Challenges
Yeah, SEO is a lot tougher now than "back in the day." You may have noticed that the SEM conference agendas are looking a bit different, too.
We're talking about broader issues than the "traditional" organic and paid search. You're hearing more discussion on social media marketing on SEO industry Web sites.
Is "social media marketing" really "organic search"? Well, no. However, they're so closely aligned that you can't talk about one without discussing the other.
Nowadays, the same can be said for all of the things that I've mentioned above. We can't talk about organic SEO without also addressing other methods of marketing that would make your Web site more relevant, popular, and trafficked. They go hand in hand.
As we get underway in 2009, every SEO needs to brush up on general interactive marketing strategies. We need to better understand how to negotiate media plans that will deliver upon our CPA goals and look for ways in which these media plans can be synergistic with our SEO efforts.
Wanted: Quarterly Site Review Submissions
Do you have a Web site you'd like me to review from an SEO perspective? Now's the time to contact me. I'll publish my next quarterly site review next week, so get your requests in early (as in "now").