Maintaining an effective SEO strategy is key in the growth of your business. However, if you’ve sat on your hands so far in 2017, here’s what you need to know.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Businesses know what it is and why they need it.
A recent study found that 82% of marketers saw SEO as an increasingly effective component of their marketing efforts. While 42% said that the importance of their SEO program had increased significantly in recent years.
However, despite understanding why optimizing for search engines is so important, many professionals do not understand the radical changes that search engines like Google have undergone.
For example, Google has stressed, time and time again, the importance of having a mobile-friendly website. Something which was cemented with their mobile update in 2015. Yet, according to recent research, only 30% of SMBs have a website optimized for mobile.
Similarly, many professionals are aware of the shift from traditional-ranking algorithms to machine learning and Google’s artificial intelligence RankBrain. Yet they are unaware of what this switch means for their business and SEO efforts – in short, it means big changes.
Why Businesses Should Perform an Immediate Digital Audit
If you’re lucky, you’ll have some idea of your business’s digital footprint. You’ll be aware of the key stakeholders and who is responsible for what across all digital properties. That means not just your website, but also your blogs, social media, backlink profile, PR efforts, and affiliates.
Many businesses do not have a clear understanding of their entire digital presence which means they’re operating without the full picture. A digital audit is the first step in resolving this issue and in bringing a business’s SEO efforts into 2017.
Key SEO elements to examine in a digital audit include:
- Outdated or bad SEO practices
- Abandoned or unoptimized properties
- Toxic or dangerous links
- Optimization to current SEO best practice
Even the largest organizations can have SEO skeletons in the closet. Read here about how BMW’s use of doorway pages resulted in a “0”[zero] PageRank and a blacklisting. Or how Toy “R” Us paid over 5 million dollars for the domain “toys.com” only to see their rankings plummet.
Maybe your meta descriptions aren’t optimized for real people. Maybe you have poor URL structure. Or maybe “Greg” the old SEO manager bought a thousand dodgy links from an overseas link farm, links which have never been disavowed. There’s only one to know for sure. A full digital audit.
Rebuilding SEO Strategies for 2017
There was a time when shoehorning 100 keywords into web content (arguably) boosted rankings. Or when signing up to multiple spammy directories (again, arguably) increased a site’s authority.
You may laugh at anyone who attempts to employ these tactics in 2017. But, the truth is many businesses are clinging to similarly outdated “SEO best practices.” Yours may be one of them.
Restrictive keyword densities. Heavy use of anchor text on internal links. Multiple exact match domains. Many businesses hold onto these tactics like talismans used to appease the angry Google deity. Today, though, these techniques are regularly ineffective and they may actually result in a decrease in rankings.
Businesses need to evaluate, trim, and remove these outdated techniques. They’ve spent enough time, resources, and, of course, money on them. It’s time to rebuild the SEO strategy for 2017.
Google is in the process of phasing out big algorithm updates like Penguin and Panda instead of working toward regular incremental improvements and real-time updates.
What does this mean for businesses?
It means that, more than ever before, SEO professionals need to be aware of the latest changes as they happen more and more frequently. “Setting and forgetting” has never been a valid strategy in SEO and today it stands to be even less so. Fortunately, there are lots of great SEO resources available.
If they haven’t already done so, people should add Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, Moz Blog, SEO by the Sea, and the Digital360 Resource Center to their Reading List, Feedly, or Pocket App, whichever they prefer.
SEO success requires that 1) professionals read the latest information, 2) monitor SEO efforts, and 3) employ the latest best practices while replacing outdated tactics. There are no shortcuts.
There are no shortcuts.