By Chris Thoren, Natural Search Supervisor, Content Solutions
The New Year is back upon this, and there’s a buzz in the air. OK, maybe not, but the New Year does bring about both business and people looking to re-invent themselves—gyms become a bevy of activity, healthy food is purchased with the fast food diet being a thing of the past, and high hopes and aspiration get thrown on a to-do list. And then…the holiday buzz wears off and real-life sets in yet again.
Where I’m going with this is that resolutions never really stick, as seen in the gym capacity come February. If you know that this model sets you up for failure, why would you apply said model to your business goals and objectives? Especially in an industry as fluid as SEO. So how about we change the paradigm shift here, and think of ‘resolutions’ as more of an ongoing strategy, or goals, that need to be reviewed, analyzed and changed (if necessary) based on what works and what doesn’t.
That being said, below are some SEO trends that will provide fodder for an interesting 2010.
Personalized Search – with Google’s roll-out of personalized search results, it has the entire industry speculating how this will impact not only rankings, but other metrics as well—overall traffic, revenue, etc. Some people have gone as far to say this change spells the end of the SEO era, but it appears the online community is anxious to see the results (pun intended). Outside of privacy and ‘big brother’ issues, this is Google flexing their #1 engine muscles in hopes to provide an even more enhanced user experience. Along those lines, these should (still) be the main areas of focus:
- Relevancy still matters – no matter how personalized search results get, the object is to still show the most relevant results based on the query.
- Know your user – in order to achieve this relevancy, you need to have insight into your target demographics. Tools like Google Ad Planner, comScore and your analytics data will shed some light on this (if you don’t know already)
- Speak the User’s Language – in order to tie the above two points together, you can then create content focused on the end user which will help CTR as well as repeat visitors.
- Embrace a Holistic SEO Approach – SEO has come a long way from just web results and rankings. The bottom line: you want to be in front of as many eyeballs as possible, and engine rankings are only a part of the traffic out there.
- Built to Last – the functionality within the SERP is pretty slick, but will it catch on with the end user? After all, that is important to the engines, right? So if users don’t find it useful (read: click-thru), it will be interesting to see if the engines take note.
- Create Fresh Content – with the engines looking for these latest results, it’s important for a business to stay on top of the latest trends and produce new, relevant content for the spiders to show. This could be done via the company blog, tweets, press releases, and more. The point is, stay on top of the hot trends, and proceed accordingly.
- Business as Usual – social media is still too large to ignore, and no matter the size of the business, you should be leveraging this in some capacity. Most of your consumers are here, so you should be, too.
- Listen to Your Fan Base – be sure to leverage the social space and community, but set expectations accordingly. If you don’t engage with your users, don’t expect to get much in return.
- Don’t Get Stuck in the Weeds – keyword tools are great, but don’t get too bogged in the details. Try to look at it from a larger perspective (categorical data, demographics, etc.) and then target keywords based on what you find.
- Set It and Forget It…NOT – remember the whole ‘not’ craze? It doesn’t have anything to do with this point, but the key is to be changing based on what your data tells you. This could be 3 months, 6 months, a year, or 6 years. Probably not that long, but just be sure to do it.
- Take Your Training Wheels Off – web analytics packages offer in-depth looks and insight to your data, so are you following suit by utilizing these features?
- Advanced Features – as mentioned above, WA packages offer these features for a reason, so take advantage of them. Especially Google Analytics, offers many different ways to slice and dice your data, like advanced segments, custom filters, and more.
- Site Search – this is direct insight to what your user is asking for, so are you listening? Be sure to set this up in your analytics package (in Google Analytics, you just need to assign a query parameter) to gain these additional insights.