In May 2013 there was a crazed uproar that ‘SEO IS DEAD’ when Google released their new algorithms for search engines – Penguin 2.0 (now updated to Penguin 2.1) and Hummingbird. These new algorithms mean no more hat tricks, keyword stuffing, comment spamming, backlink image stuffing and the list goes on. Finally, Google uncovered the secret to blocking SEO tricks used to get customers on the infamous PAGE 1. By focusing on your company’s online content, the search giant discovered the key to promoting credibility and authorship as the number one way to improve your rank in Google’s search engine.
Beware of the infamous PAGE 1 promise.
Not to say someone will not find a way around the system. However, the latest SEO shift has actively changed the core competence of savvy SEO companies to Content Marketing specialists. Even the term SEO was recently marginalized to just one aspect of the all-inclusive Search Engine Marketing (SEM). That means if you want to see your company’s website on PAGE 1, you’re going to have to consider a comprehensive online marketing campaign, rather then rely on an SEO company to stuff meta tags with keywords.
The difference between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM):
Honestly, even experts vary on the difference between the two acronyms. However, we can all agree that both terms promise you the same result, a better ranking in Google and other popular search engines. SEO has been the more predominant term, and over the years has gained recognition by the general public. However, with the advent of Google’s changes to increase the importance of authorship and content in search results, determining the difference between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) has real relevance.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of building pages in a manner that enables the pages to rank highly in ‘algorithmically’ determined search results. The ‘algorithmic’ results are based on the search engine’s unique mathematical algorithms, used to determine the relevance of indexed pages for a particular word or phrase.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is usually attributed to paid advertising for keywords and sponsored links. These advertisements are generally purchased from Google (the Google Adwords product), or Yahoo! Search Marketing (YSM – formerly Overture). However its modern application extends way beyond this definition. Many sources consider SEM as a wider discipline that incorporates SEO. Under this definition, it encompasses the multitude of avenues available to ‘market’ your site online, which inherently improves your search ranking. These avenues include:
- Social Media Marketing – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
- Email Marketing – drip campaigns, newsletters, updates, etc.
- Referral Marketing – online listings, referral key: Referral Network, Facebook groups, LinkedIn and Meetup Networking groups, etc.
- Content Marketing – targeted news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, etc.
- Native advertising – advertorials, ads that look similar to content
- Affiliate Advertising – ads commonly seen on blogs featuring related companies
- Mobile Advertising – SMS advertising, MMS advertising, ads in mobile games, audio ads on apps like Pandora
- Search optimized navigation and content coded with proper accessibility and keyword integration for search engine spiders (SEO).
Search’s new ranking methods and how to adapt:
basically changed the game by modifying the old algorithm to one that can recognize different and more complex variables. According the Google’s Search Engine Optimization guidelines there are the definable factors on your website when considering Search ranking:
- Site content or structure
- Content development
- Management of online business development campaigns
- Keyword research
- Expertise in specific markets and geographies
Some of the old SEO concerns are still relevant. You need a credible, well-built site free of errors with well-structured code. Keywords are still important, but be wary of ‘keyword stuffing’
(the act of loading a page with keywords in the meta tags or in the content). Google, Yahoo and other popular search engines may temporarily or permanently ban your website. Geographic SEO and local search marketing are also still relevant and reliable solutions to certain saturated search markets.
What’s new is the inclusion of ‘management of online business development campaigns’
, which basically encompasses what we previously defined as SEM. Web designers, and SEO specialists have found that the most tractable SEM tactic is targeted
content marketing. This means your site and/or blog is constantly updated with fresh, relevant, credible and engaging content delivered on multiple media platforms including articles, blog posts, video, interactive media, games, news feeds, email campaigns, and podcasts (to name a few) with your company’s well-defined target audience in mind.
The importance of content marketing and the ‘New SEO’:
Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as, “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” In layman’s terms, content marketing is a means of providing captive information and media that specifically interests your company’s target audience. In order to use content marketing effectively, you need to investigate your target audience’s likes, interests, activities, behaviors and what they consider valuable information and/or entertainment. This act of profiling your target audience’s behavior, rather then just their demographics, is referred to as defining the ‘Buyer Persona.’
Content marketing is not focused on selling, but communicating with customers and prospects. The idea is to inspire business and loyalty from buyers by delivering consistent, ongoing valuable information. This way content marketing inherits a ‘soft-sell’
approach to advertising your business. Your content should be void of any obviously self-serving, pushy ad copy, and full of great relevant news, videos, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos and similar materials available on your company’s blog, email campaigns, published materials, and website. In essence, your company’s online marketing campaigns become a valuable resource for your target audience, which translates to more page views and better conversion.
The ‘New SEO’ targets this kind of content marketing as its top priority for page ranking and validating authorship. Google’s complex algorithms can tell by popularity, low bounce rates, repeat views and other analytics how relevant and attractive your content is to your target audience and your business expertise. Please note that content marketing is only affective if you narrow your target to one specific audience. If you want to target different audiences and areas of expertise, then keep them on separate sections of your blog. The more targeted your content, the easier it is for Google to see what topic you are promoting and rank your site accordingly. Also, many bloggers and content writers have found that a personal touch, transparency, and sharing experiences have the most profound effect on target audiences. Give you customers and prospects something that makes them feel connected your company.
Any web design or SEO company that approaches your business promising PAGE 1 of Google without a comprehensive plan most likely will not fulfill their promise. When choosing an SEO company make sure they have made the appropriate changes to their approach to SEO, and are focused on content marketing. Investigate how many writers they have on board, whether the writers have experience in your field or excellent research skills, and make sure you read some samples. Furthermore, different online marketing campaigns require different skill sets and an agency claiming to do it all in-house will most definitely be lacking in some departments.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for choosing what online marketing avenues are best for your budget and business. Online marketing can become overwhelming if you don’t have the staff, insights and technical knowledge. You may want to consider a company that helps you manage your website and online marketing with access to a network of professionals like, (only being a little self-serving here), Chatter Studios
. Having a reliable agency that can guide you through the process and provide key insights will save you money, time and resources and ensure success.
When working on your SEO and SEM strategy, don’t get caught up with hype, promises of the infamous PAGE 1. Boost your ranking by focusing on engaging, interactive content, and reliable sources of information that are customized to the interests of your target audience.