Yes, it's important to stay on top of best practices for website design and function, but it's also vital to keep up to date with how you drive visitors to your site. With constant changes in the search world, it can seem tiresome to know how to get the most out of your search engine optimization (SEO) tactics.
Take note of the most recent SEO shifts that are crucial for marketers to know.
Google makes significant algorithm updates
Making algorithm updates is nothing new for search giant Google, but their latest update, "freshness," will impact 35 percent of online searches. This new algorithm will ensure that recent content is at the top of search results. Google is aware that not every search query is best with the "freshness update." For instance, a chocolate chip cookie recipe that was posted nearly ten years ago is still served as one of the top results, because of its popularity -- with more than 5,000 reviews and thousands of "saves," Google knows that this recipe is what people are looking for.
However, when searching for current events and topics, Google serves up the most recent content to those searching timely information. To witness how the "freshness" update works, observe the search results below for the newly released film, "My Week with Marilyn." The results mimic a timeline -- the top results consist of the latest content followed by more dated material.
So how does Google's "freshness" update benefit marketers? It gives them the opportunity to place well in search results by developing relevant and creative content. The "freshness" update should encourage brands and businesses to display timely news on their website -- easy ways to do this are by blogging more frequently by and posting press releases to a news page.
Destination based searchMobile and local search continues to grow
As the number of smart phone users and tablet owners increase, so does the market of mobile and local search. And, as these two modes of search thrive, both Google and Bing continue to make updates to their algorithms to better identify and target these searches.
The screenshot below demonstrates a simple search for "sushi restaurant." Without indicating a desired location, Google Places automatically lists sushi restaurants in proximity of the search location (in this case, Traverse City, MI).
Bing caters to the local search market as well. As evidenced below, when "hair salon" is searched Bing provides hair salons surrounding the area of the user.
According to a forecast by eMarketer, one in three online consumers will use a tablet by 2014 -- marketers can't avoid these predictions -- so it's necessary to start strategizing for the future of search.
So, how can one future-proof SEO? Easy, claim local profiles in both Google and Bing and be sure to keep them up-to-date. For instance, if your phone number changes it's important to correct your local profiles on search engines and double check to make sure the same information is uniformly displayed across all media.
Using analytics to read encrypted search resultsGoogle encrypted search
Google's new Encrypted Search offers secure search for users who browse while logged into a Google account. This update is not so marketer friendly, because if site visitors are logged into Google+ or Gmail, it is impossible to discern which search term led them to that site. Thankfully, the traffic metrics are still visible to marketers.
The example below reveals that the keywords are "not provided," but the number of visits are still available.
As this change impacts search marketing, it's important to look at your analytics from the first couple of months of this rollout and set them as your benchmark. By taking this immediate action you'll better understand Google's Encrypted Search and its affect on your business's SEO.
It's all in the designApple's Siri
Apple recently released the iPhone 4S, which features the new "Siri" technology allowing users to verbally ask questions, give commands, search for directions, and more. Although this software gives new ability to iPhone users, it does concern SEO marketers. How does Siri affect SEO?
The problem lies within how Siri provides "search" results. Organic results aren't provided -- local business results are what Siri delivers. For instance, if an iPhone user tells Siri "I want pizza," the program will give the two nearest locations and could potentially leave out a restaurant in the vicinity that has higher user ratings.
One solution is to make sure your local profiles are up-to-date and filled with appropriate content. Another way to ensure exposure is to make your company website mobile and tablet friendly, which will help Siri to recognize your content.Google+ and Facebook
Despite the issues of Google+, marketers might want to consider cultivating a solid presence on the social platform. As Google continues to try to compete with Facebook's market, Google+ membership continues to grow.
Embedding keywords into social properties is a true SEO best practice, so it's a no-brainer to seek out the top major social media networks.
Where on a social site can you insert keywords? From Google+ profiles to Facebook info sections, you can display keywords and all of your business web properties (website, Twitter, YouTube, corporate blog, etc).
For instance, take a peek at Burberry's Google+ below: You'll notice how well it utilizes the introduction section as it's jam-packed with keywords such as "luxury," "quality," "timeless style," "trench coat," etc.
That same strategy of providing descriptive keywords should be executed in your Facebook profile. Look to Dove for SEO best practice with Facebook. In both its "about" and "product" sections Dove lists terms that would naturally lead to its website such as "personal beauty," "hair care," "body wash," "hand cream," "deodorant," and many more.
Implementing organic search strategies in your marketing mix is a must. Even though the countless changes can seem overwhelming and tedious, there's a ton of good that comes with change -- you will learn new techniques, discover creative ways to view your analytics, and you will be inspired learn the new trades before your competition.
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"Jigsaw puzzle with one missing piece" image via Shutterstock.