SEO in the Real World
Anyone who is responsible for teaching or explaining the ins and outs of search engine optimization (SEO) to a client or new hire understands just how intimidating this particular marketing concept can be for those who are new to the industry.
The idea of manipulating content and code to align with what are largely theoretical algorithms seems to conjure up images of scientists experimenting in labs, rather than Millennial strategists typing on their laptops.
While SEO is certainly intricate, sophisticated, and demands continuous testing in order to be used as a successful means of expanding a particular brand or business’s reach/revenue; it is not rocket science.
Understanding various concepts and strategies dedicated to Organic Search is easy to do when approached with the right mind set.
All you have to do is think about how SEO relates to the real world.
The Two Pillars of SEO
Every successful SEO campaign requires two specific concepts that ultimately support the authority of a particular website or form of content.
These pillars are:
- Link Earning – the ability to attract qualified links from relevant third-party destinations.
- Social SEO – the level of dialogue and action a particular website is able to attract from online consumers.
Why are these concepts considered to be the two primary components of any successful modern SEO campaign? Well, it’s because each concept directly speaks to and influences the level of credibility a website carries with search engines.
While other traditional aspects of optimization like meta data or text-to-link ratios are important to consider when developing a campaign, they do not carry as much weight as the two pillars in the eyes of search engines, since they are not directly linked to what I call, “human validation.”
This means that search engines are much more interested in promoting content that is transparent in its intentions and meaning, as well as validated by actual human beings opposed to being well optimized with perfectly built title tags or URL structures.
With these concepts in mind, let’s see how they apply to real life situations in order to better grasp how they affect your SEO campaign.
Link Earning In The Real World – Political Endorsements
If I were to suddenly announce myself as a candidate for let’s say, a state Senator’s position, and didn’t have a background in politics; most people wouldn’t think too much of me due to my lack of experience and recognition.
If I were able to gain the endorsements of a local Congressmen and the Governor of the state I’m running for office in, then I would certainly have a level of credibility with my constituents, since other established officials within similar professional positions vouched for my capabilities.
However, if I were only able to garner endorsements from my community’s local bums, no one would vote for me because of how disconnected and unqualified these sources are for what I am trying to accomplish.
How It Looks In SEO Land
Link earning is the ability to establish connections with qualified third-party websites, which directly align with your domain’s primary message, services, and/or products.
Attracting qualified links to your website or a particular form of content is significant for producing results associated with:
- Improved rankings
- Enhanced authority around particular keyterms, phrases, or concepts
- Increased visibility
- Increased conversions
Like running for political office, link earning is all about who you know and are connected to from a digital perspective.
For example, if you are building out an informational website that talks about the signs and symptoms of various diseases; then attracting links from a source like WebMD would be much more valuable and relevant than from a site dedicated to say, the auto manufacturing industry.
The reason for this is because search engines like Google want to make sure that they are only offering the most authoritative, intelligent, and reliable content to their clients, who are online consumers.
Search engines want to promote websites that have a backlink portfolio comprised of hundreds, if not thousands of links that all derive from relevant sources seen as authorities within their space. That’s why search engines have created systems like Google’s Penguin Update to ensure that consumers are only able to engage with the most credible forms of content through search listings.
So when you think about link earning, think about how to create strategies that focus on establishing meaningful relationships with other well-known, trusted websites associated with what you do and/or what you are trying to accomplish.
Two tactics to consider using for link earning:
- Relevant guest contributions – Creating and offering intelligent forms of content to qualified third-party websites is an excellent way of expanding your online reach, while also acquiring new links from relevant destinations. Make sure you only contribute to third-party sources that are similar to you in nature and contain a sense of authority for whatever it is that they do.
- Product giveaways and video testimonials – Giving away free samples of your services to qualified consumers and asking for a linked video testimonial to be published on YouTube in return, is a great way to naturally earn links. Consumers are able to offer their complete opinion of your services, which allows this particular tactic to be seen as credible and natural in its intentions.
Social SEO In The Real World – Word of Mouth Advertising
There is nothing more powerful than word-of-mouth advertising when it comes to leading a particular audience down the path of conversion.
According to Nielsen, 92 percent of consumers believe recommendations offered by their friends and family over all other forms of marketing. And, when it comes to conversions, 84 percent actually take some sort of action based on these personal references.
With this in mind, being able to connect like-minded consumers with a particular product or service that creates a significant level of buzz is a sure way to catalyze results dedicated to brand awareness and transactions/revenue.
Even more encouraging is the fact that a well-developed word-of-mouth marketing campaign costs significantly less than any other form of advertising, especially when you consider the costs associated with offline media channels like television (it costs close to $110,000 to run an average .30 commercial in prime time, according to ADWeek).
So whether you’re a fortune 500 brand or just opening up your first brick and mortar location, word-of-mouth is a concept that stands to significantly benefit the bottom line for any business or brand.
How It Looks In SEO Land
The concept of “Social SEO” can be loosely defined as the ability for websites to acquire links that derive from individual behavior.
It’s all about influencing influencers to engage with content, which translates to asking the popular kids to talk about how they like your product the best.
When a particular brand’s followers and fans interact with your website or a specific form of content, they are in a sense recommending your content to their respective social connections.
The ability to attract these types of recommendations directly correlates with how successful your website or article will be in terms of its:
- Visibility within search listings
- Authority around particular keyterms, phrases or concepts
- Conversion rates
According to Nielsen
- Badge Campaigns – A quick look over any social media platform and it’s easy to see that people love personal attention, as well as showing off their personal successes to their friends and family. Launching a badge campaign over social media, where consumers are able to obtain and post branded badges in return for engaging with your website creates a great cyclical reaction that can help catalyze brand awareness, engagement, and conversions.
- Social Sharing – You might be looking at this recommendation and saying, “Duh Jason,” but believe it or not, only 31 percent of global companies use social sharing as means of improving customer service and conversions. So if you don’t already offer your online users the ability to share and comment on every one of your blog articles, landing pages, images, and other forms of content, you’re missing out on the opportunity to connect with new consumers and increase your revenue.
According to a 2015 report released by Statista
What Goes Into SEO, Comes Around In Real Life
Whenever you’re confronted with the responsibility of teaching or explaining the ins and outs of a successful SEO campaign, just remember to relate it back to real world situations.
While this article only covers two specific concepts related to Organic Search in 2015, there are certainly a plethora of strategies, tactics, and applications that nicely fit the context of every day scenarios.
Being able to effectively relate SEO to the real world will only increase the level of understanding and participation of your audience/trainees, while also preparing them with practical methods they can apply to their personal campaigns.
Julian Scott Connors is an experienced search marketing director who has developed complex, wide-scale search and social campaigns for brands that include: P&G, The Source, Papa Johns, GiveSmart, and more.
A published author on the concept of "Social SEO", Connors contributes to a number of recognized publications and speaks are digital marketing conferences throughout the country.