Now, to a seasoned SEO expert this might all seem elementary, but that’s just it: most folks running a small business or new start-up company aren’t experts, which means they’re woefully unprepared to deal with the modern realities of SEO. But have no fear: those interested in moving away from the ham-handed pay-per-click-style advertising methods of yesteryear can utilize these core principals. (They might just help to craft an efficient, effective and stealthy strategy worthy of a true ninja.)
Put the audience first
This is one tactic that should remain evergreen throughout the life of SEO. After all, Google will never penalize advertisers who produce content that audiences legitimately want to see. Now, the tried and true method to reaching a target audience is to be helpful. Consider American Express and their Unstaged campaign. Granted, a credit card giant may operate a larger tent than most, but AmEx still took took to heart the philosophy of putting their audience first and debuted American Express Unstaged in 2011. This launch gave the audience an interactive music experience with a variety of artists, including Taylor Swift. Even today, Unstaged is held up as a prime example of innovative content marketing.
Understand the social sphere
Search, social, content—these are the three pillars of modern search engine optimization. And marketers need to harness the power of “social.” This is more difficult than it sounds for the simple reason that social media is advancing and morphing at geometric rates. The days of social marketing requiring little more than a Facebook and Twitter account are long gone. Take YouTube, for example. At one time this popular web page was viewed as nothing but a video clip site. However, in just a couple years YouTube evolved to the point it is ranked as one of the most popular social media sites in the world. Its popularity is such that it boasts one billion registered users each month.
Certain thought leaders are even warning of the adverse—prioritization of privacy. In 2014, no new social media platform exemplifies this trend as clearly as SnapChat. The popular photo-messaging site has emerged as the vanguard of a movement involving folks who want to share information privately and, often times, ephemerally. This could signal the disappearance of a heretofore cornerstone of social media: publicly traded content. Marketers are going to have to come to terms with this new reality.
Take note of new platforms
On top of popular social media sites, marketers also need to take into account new platforms, such as podcasting. It’s hard to ignore these new methods of information dissemination when podcasting has seen a 25% increase in listening levels since 2013. But this is the whole point: a solid social strategy today likely won’t be the same a year from now. That’s why it’s vital to stay on top of new trends and platforms—and incorporate as many of them as possible.
All websites and content should be optimized for mobile. It’s that simple. If social is the lynchpin that holds this crazy notion of modern SEO together, then mobile is the foundation where it all stands. It’s also the future. Savvy marketers know that the most successful digital trends involve joining mobile and search to reach target audiences. The way to do this is visually rather than through words. This has been proven by the popularity of sites like Instagram and SnapChat. Just like people are sending images and videos to smartphones and tablets, major brands are doing the same—and reaping big rewards in the form of mass interaction with consumers.
Hire out when need be
There’s no shame in calling in the pros to take care of a business or company’s SEO needs. Sure, true ninja warriors may never have outsourced their work, but they didn’t have KPIs and marketing ROI to contend with. And this strategy of hiring out is actually fairly common. In fact, many larger firms and companies have started adding entire SEO departments on their premises. The trick is to find a quality company that is worth the money they charge. Scott Langdon of the nationally renowned SEO firm Higher Visibility had this to say on the subject:
“Because it takes months to see any results in the SEO industry, you will be working with the SEO company you hire for quite some time. Oftentimes ‘quick’ results are gained through SEO tactics that will get you penalized, so a poor SEO company will take advantage of these tactics until they’ve kept you around long enough to dig you into a hole.”
In the end, businesses and companies should be just as diligent about their SEO strategies as they are about who crafts those strategies for them. Above all else it is important to be relentless in producing quality SEO content on a regular basis. Would a ninja settle for anything less?