I get lots of inquiries from small businesses that begin with, “Our Website isn’t getting any leads.” The lack of leads is usually due to a number of factors: lack of proper SEO, lack of content, and lack of social media. Usually the site isn’t showing up in the SERPs or the company has lost rankings over time.
When the owners of these companies ask me to “optimize” their sites, meaning, “We need you to write us some Title tags,” I turn them down.
Why? Because writing “optimized” Title tags, in the absence of content, a blog, and social media, is a waste of my time and the company’s money.
I’m not saying that SEO is dead or that you shouldn’t optimize your site. You *should* optimize your site. Optimized content is what helps searchers find your content. Think of SEO as a filing system.
–> In your own office you have file cabinets.
–> In those file cabinets are file folders — clearly labeled file folders.
–> In each file folder you have pieces of paper that pertain to the label on the folder.
–> Clearly labeled file folders make it easy to find stuff (if you file things, that is).
It works the same way for your content. Optimized content makes it easier for Google to know how to index and *present* your content when searchers are looking for it. That’s why you need to optimize your content around the words people are using in their searches — not the keywords you think they should be using.
SEO isn’t rocket science. You can educate yourself by downloading the updated SEO Starter Guide from Google. Read the guide so that you understand the basics and so you’re not taken in by consultants and agencies selling SEO snakeoil.
Lots of helpful content is important, too.
Optimized content is what searchers find in the search engines. Optimized content is what gets them to your site. Once they get to your site, content is what helps prospects learn more about your company and its products. It’s what generates leads (provided you have effective calls-to-action). Google is now ranking sites on whether people find your content “helpful.”
Content comes in all formats: video, Webinars, reports, case studies, ebooks, blog posts, podcasts, newsletters, and static pages describing your products and services. As a company, you should be producing new content on a regular basis.
This helpful content is what gets shared on social media — or commented on if you have a blog. It’s this shared content that drives awareness of your company and fills the top of your funnel.
Social media is the stamp of authority
The content you produce needs to show people (and Google, too) that your company is an authority in its space / industry — which is something Google’s Matt Cutts talks about in this May 22, 2013 video about the rollout of Penguin 2.0. (Hat Tip: Jill Whalen)
Google bases part of this authority on social media signals — i.e. blog comments, retweets, +1s, etc. In her May 22, 2013 High Rankings newsletter, “What Does Social Media Have to Do with SEO?,” Jill Whalen talks about how social media and SEO are no longer separate entities. She writes:
While officially Google claims they’re not directly factoring social signals into their ranking algorithms, I don’t buy it for a second. They would be completely and utterly remiss not to, and they’re not that dumb. In fact, they’re pretty smart.
Even more to the point, Google *is* tracking this stuff through Google Analytics. Take a look at your Google Analytics social dashboard. Below is a screenshot of Google’s DataHub “partners” — a listing of the social media sites it tracks and shows in your reports.
This next screen shot is a listing of my own social analytics showing the traffic coming from the various sites in which I participate — including the blog commenting social tool, Disqus. (I have to say, I was somewhat surprised when I received my first newsletter subscription from someone who found me through this tool.)
You think Google isn’t using this information to rank pages? Hahahaha. Think again.
This morning I received an email from my good friend Chris Jaeger of Build Your Wedding Business. “Have you seen this?” he asked. Chris is the number one expert when it comes to helping wedding vendors (he works with other companies, too) increase online conversions. The screenshot he sent me showed a search result for “wedding reception sites in denver co.”
Yep, Google is showing all the sites for this search phrase at the top of the SERP, AND it’s listing the number of reviews each site has received.
You think Google isn’t tracking social media activity (in this case, in the form of ratings and reviews) and using it to rank pages? Hahahahahaha. Think again.
It’s for these reasons that I no longer simply “write some Title tags.”
What’s your take on SEO, content and social media? Do you think SEO is still effective by itself? Do you think a company simply needs to produce content and not worry about SEO? Or, do you believe, the way I do, that all three work together?
Leave your comments below.