What Does Google’s Hummingbird Update Mean For Your SEO Efforts? Nothing

googlehummingbird

News broke at a Google press event that the largest upgrade to its search algorithm since 2001, dubbed Hummingbird, had already rolled out last month. “Algorithm?” you ask. “Isn’t that the thing the determines how websites are ranked? And you say this is the biggest change in their algorithm in 12 years?! What about all my SEO work? Is it ruined? Do I have to change everything?” Rest easy, you don’t have to change anything about your SEO efforts, at least not if you’re already doing what you should have been doing all these years.

If you’re looking to get all the details on the Hummingbird update then head straight on over to Danny Sullivan’s Hummingbird FAQ at Search Engine Land. But if you just want to know what you need to do about Hummingbird, then I’ll save you the task of reading Sullivan post and cut to the chase. It comes near the end where Sullivan asks the question “Does this mean SEO is dead?” He answers:

No, SEO is not yet again dead. In fact, Google’s saying there’s nothing new or different SEOs or publishers need to worry about. Guidance remains the same, it says: have original, high-quality content. Signals that have been important in the past remain important; Hummingbird just allows Google to process them in new and hopefully better ways.

Nothing has changed. If you have original, high-quality content, and you have high-quality and relevant websites linking to your own website, then your website is still going to rank well. If anything, your website’s rankings will improve just as they should have after the Penguin and Panda updates rolled out.

The key to making the right decisions about SEO is to understand where Google is going. Google’s goal is that when someone creates a new search, what Google shows that person is exactly what the person wants or needs. We’ve all had the experience of searching on Google and seeing websites come up that obviously aren’t what we want. We don’t even need to click on the link to figure that out, because what Google shows us is enough. When this happens to me I think “Good heavens, why in the world would Google think that’s what I wanted when I typed in those words?” Google wants to get to the point where I never think that again. To lose sight of this goal would be the death of Google. This is, in part, why Google employs a few thousand PhDs.

Many people have been frustrated by Panda and Penguin, and they’ll now see Hummingbird in a negative light. Don’t fall into that trap. If you’re the best at what you do, these updates Google has been rolling out are opportunities to separate yourself from your competition. They may have been engaging in spammy tactics to get good rankings, but if you’ve been focusing on creating content that provides real value to potential customers, their days are numbered. These changes will help you rise above, and the good news, as mentioned above, is if you’ve been doing the right things for your SEO you don’t need to change a thing.

Have you seen any impact to your website(s) as a result of the Hummingbird update? Do you see any details in the update you feel will give you an advantage?

Search Engine Optimization Guide For Beginners (PART 2)

As I have already discussed about Search Engine Optimization Technique in my first part:  Search Engine Optimization Guide For Beginners (PART 1) .

Lets discuss about Google Guidelines and many more Advance SEO techniques.

google guidlines

 

Google Guidelines

Here are some of the important tips and tricks that can be employed while dealing with Google.

do

  •  A website should have crystal clear hierarchy and links and should preferably be easy to navigate.
  • A site map is required to help the users go around your site and in case the site map has more than 100 links, then it is advisable to break it into several pages to avoid clutter.
  • Come up with essential and precise keywords and make sure that your website features relevant and informative content.
  • The Google crawler will not recognize text hidden in the images, so when describing important names, keywords or links; stick with plain text.
  • The TITLE and ALT tags should be descriptive and accurate and the website should have no broken links or incorrect HTML.
  • Dynamic pages (the URL consisting of a „?‟ character) should be kept to a minimum as not every search engine spider is able to crawl them.
  • The robots.txt file on your web server should be current and should not block the Googlebot crawler. This file tells crawlers which directories can or cannot be crawled.

Not to do

  • When making a site, do not cheat your users, i.e. those people who will surf your website. Do not provide them with irrelevant content or present them with any fraudulent schemes.
  • Avoid tricks or link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking.
  • Do not employ hidden texts or hidden links.
  • Google frowns upon websites using cloaking technique. Hence, it is advisable to avoid that.
  • Automated queries should not be sent to Google.
  • Avoid stuffing pages with irrelevant words and content. Also don’t create multiple pages, sub-domains, or domains with significantly duplicate content.
  • Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with hardly any original content.

Crawler/Spider Considerations

Crawler

Also, consider technical factors. If a site has a slow connection, it might time-out for the crawler. Very complex pages, too, may time out before the crawler can harvest the text.

If you have a hierarchy of directories at your site, put the most important information high, not deep. Some search engines will presume that the higher you placed the information, the more important it is. And crawlers may not venture deeper than three or four or five directory levels.

Above all remember the obvious – full-text search engines such index text. You may well be tempted to use fancy and expensive design techniques that either block search engine crawlers or leave your pages with very little plain text that can be indexed. Don‟t fall prey to that temptation.

Ranking Rules Of Thumb

thumb

The simple rule of thumb is that content counts, and that content near the top of a page counts for more than content at the end. In particular, the HTML title and the first couple lines of text are the most important part of your pages. If the words and phrases that match a query happen to appear in the HTML title or first couple lines of text of one of your pages, chances are very good that that page will appear high in the list of search results.

A crawler/spider search engine can base its ranking on both static factors (a computation of the value of page independent of any particular query) and query-dependent factors.

Values

values

  • Long pages, which are rich in meaningful text (not randomly generated letters and words).
  • Pages that serve as good hubs, with lots of links to pages that that have related content (topic similarity, rather than random meaningless links, such as those generated by link exchange programs or intended to generate a false impression of “popularity”).
  • The connectivity of pages, including not just how many links there are to a page but where the links come from: the number of distinct
    domains and the “quality” ranking of those particular sites. This is calculated for the site and also for individual pages. A site or a page is
    “good” if many pages at many different sites point to it, and especially if many “good” sites point to it.
  • The level of the directory in which the page is found. Higher is considered more important. If a page is buried too deep, the crawler
    simply won’t go that far and will never find it.
  • These static factors are recomputed about once a week, and new good pages slowly percolate upward in the rankings. Note that there are advantages to having a simple address and sticking to it, so others can build links to it, and so you know that it’s in the index

Query-Dependent Factors

google-confused

  • The HTML title.
  • The first lines of text.
  • Query words and phrases appearing early in a page rather than late.
  • Meta tags, which are treated as ordinary words in the text, but like words that appear early in the text (unless the meta tags are patently
    unrelated to the content on the page itself, in which case the page will be penalized)
  • Words mentioned in the “anchor” text associated with hyperlinks to your pages. (E.g., if lots of good sites link to your site with anchor text
    “breast cancer” and the query is “breast cancer,” chances are good that you will appear high in the list of matches.)

Meta Tags (Ask.Com As An Example)

Though Meta tags are indexed and considered to be regular text, Ask.com claims it doesn’t give them priority over HTML titles and other text. Though you should use meta tags in all your pages, some webmasters claim their doorway pages for Ask.com rank better when they don’t
use them. If you do use Meta tags, make your description tag no more than 150 characters and your keywords tag no more than 1,024 characters long.

Keywords In The URL And File Names

It’s generally believed that Ask.com gives some weight to keywords in filenames and URL names. If you’re creating a file, try to name it with
keywords.

Keywords In The ALT Tags

Ask.com indexes ALT tags, so if you use images on your site, make sure to add them. ALT tags should contain more than the image’s description. They should include keywords, especially if the image is at the top of the page. ALT tags are explained later.

Page Length

There’s been some debate about how long doorway pages for AltaVista should be. Some webmasters say short pages rank higher, while others argue that long pages are the way to go. According to AltaVista’s help section, it prefers long and informative pages. We’ve found that pages with
600-900 words are most likely to rank well.

In case for any queries feel free to comment.

Search Engine Optimization Guide For Beginners (PART 1)

“This Post is a hard-hitting guide that gives you the information you need to make the adjustments to your site right away to help improve your search rankings and benefit from the increase in organic search traffic” – COREVISION TECHNOLOGY TEAM

SEO

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is simply the act of manipulating the pages of your website to be easily accessible by search engine spiders so they can be easily spidered and indexed. A spider is a robot that search engines use to check millions of web pages very quickly and sort them by relevance. A page is indexed when it is spidered and deemed appropriate content to be placed in the search engines results for people to click on.

The art and science of understanding how search engines identify pages that are relevant to a query made by a visitor and designing marketing strategies based on this is called search engine optimization. Search engines offer the most cost effective mechanism to acquire “real” and “live” business leads. It is found that in most cases, search engine optimization delivers a better ROI than other forms such as online advertisements, e-mail marketing and newsletters, affiliate and pay per click advertising, and digital campaigns and promotions.

What On Earth Is An Algorithm?

algorithm

Each search engine has something called an algorithm which is the formula that each search engine uses to evaluate web pages and determine their relevance and value when crawling them for possible inclusion in their search engine. A crawler is the robot that browses all of these pages for the search engine.

GOOGLE Algorithm Is Key

Google has a comprehensive and highly developed technology, a straightforward interface and a wide-ranging array of search tools which enable the users to easily access a variety of information online.

Google users can browse the web and find information in various languages, retrieve maps, stock quotes and read news, search for a long lost friend
using the phonebook listings available on Google for all of US cities and basically surf the 3 billion odd web pages on the internet!

Google boasts of having world‟s largest archive of Usenet messages, dating all the way back to 1981. Google‟s technology can be accessed from any conventional desktop PC as well as from various wireless platforms such as WAP and i-mode phones, handheld devices and other such Internet equipped gadgets.

Page Rank Based On Popularity

The web search technology offered by Google is often the technology of choice of the world‟s leading portals and websites. It has also benefited the advertisers with its unique advertising program that does not hamper the web surfing experience of its users but still brings revenues to the advertisers.

When you search for a particular keyword or a phrase, most of the search engines return a list of page in order of the number of times the keyword
or phrase appears on the website. Google web search technology involves the use of its indigenously designed Page Rank Technology and hypertext-matching analysis which makes several instantaneous calculations undertaken without any human intervention. Google‟s structural design also expands simultaneously as the internet expands.

Page Rank technology involves the use of an equation which comprises of millions of variables and terms and determines a factual measurement of the significance of web pages and is calculated by solving an equation of 500 million variables and more than 3 billion terms. Unlike some other search engines, Google does not calculate links, but utilizes the extensive link structure of the web as an organizational tool. When the link to a Page, let‟s say Page B is clicked from a Page A, then that click is attributed as a vote towards Page B on behalf of Page A.

Back Links Are Considered Popularity Votes

Quintessentially, Google calculates the importance of a page by the number of such „votes‟ it receives. Not only that, Google also assesses the importance of the pages that are involved in the voting process. Consequently, pages that are themselves ahead in ranking and are important in that way also help to make other pages important. One thing to note here is that Google‟s technology does not involve human intervention in anyway and
uses the inherent intelligence of the internet and its resources to determine the ranking and importance of any page.

Hypertext-Matching Analysis

Unlike its conventional counterparts, Google is a search engine which is hypertext-based. This means that it analyzes all the content on each web page and factors in fonts, subdivisions, and the exact positions of all terms on the page. Not only that, Google also evaluates the content of its nearest web pages. This policy of not disregarding any subject matter pays off in the end and enables Google to return results that are closest to user queries.

Google has a very simple 3-step procedure in handling a query submitted in its search box:

1. When the query is submitted and the enter key is pressed, the web server sends the query to the index servers. Index server is exactly what its name suggests. It consists of an index much like the index of a book which displays where is the particular page containing the queried term is located in the entire book.

2. After this, the query proceeds to the doc servers, and these servers actually retrieve the stored documents. Page descriptions or “snippets” are then generated to suitably describe each search result.

3. These results are then returned to the user in less than a one second! (Normally.)

“Approximately once a month, Google updates their index by recalculating the Page Ranks of each of the web pages that they have crawled. The period
during the update is known as the Google dance.”

Do You Know The GOOGLE Dance?

The Algorithm Shuffle

Because of the nature of Page Rank, the calculations need to be performed about 40 times and, because the index is so large, the calculations take several days to complete. During this period, the search results fluctuate; sometimes minute-by minute. It is because of these fluctuations that the term, Google Dance, was coined.

The dance usually takes place sometime during the last third of each month.

Google has two other servers that can be used for searching. The search results on them also change during the monthly update and they are part of
the Google dance.

For the rest of the month, fluctuations sometimes occur in the search results, but they should not be confused with the actual dance. They are due to
Google’s fresh crawl and to what is known “Everflux”.

Google has two other searchable servers apart from http://www.google.com. They are www2.google.com and www3.google.com. Most of the time, the results on all 3 servers are the same, but during the dance, they are different.

For most of the dance, the rankings that can be seen on www2 and www3 are the new rankings that will transfer to www when the dance is over. Even
though the calculations are done about 40 times, the final rankings can be seen from very early on. This is because, during the first few iterations, the
calculated figures merge to being close to their final figures.

You can see this with the Page Rank Calculator by checking the Data box and performing some calculations. After the first few iterations, the search results on www2 and www3 may still change, but only slightly.

During the dance, the results from www2 and www3 will sometimes show on the www server, but only briefly. Also, new results on www2 and www3 can disappear for short periods. At the end of the dance, the results on www will match those on www2 and www3.

GOOGLE Dance Tool

This Google Dance Tool allows you to check your rankings on all three tools www, www2 and www3 and on all 9 data centers simultaneously. The Google Web Directory works in combination of the Google Search Technology and the Netscape Open Directory Project which makes it possible to search the Internet organized by topic. Google displays the pages in order of the rank given to it using the Page Rank Technology. It not only searches the titles and descriptions of the websites, but searches the entire content of sites within are related category, which ultimately delivers a comprehensive search to the users. Google also has a fully functional web directory which categorizes all the searches in order.

Submitting your URL to Google

Google is primarily a fully-automatic search engine with no human-intervention involved in the search process. It utilizes robots known as „spiders‟ to crawl the web on a regular basis for new updates and new websites to be included in the Google Index. This robot software follows hyperlinks from site to site. Google does not require that you should submit your URL to its database for inclusion in the index, as it is done anyway automatically by the „spiders‟. However, manual submission of URL can be done by going to the Google website and clicking the related link. One important thing here is that Google does not accept payment of any sort for site submission or improving page rank of your website. Also, submitting your site through the Google website does not guarantee listing in the index.

Cloaking

Sometimes, a webmaster might program the server in such a way that it returns different content to Google than it returns to regular users, which is often done to misrepresent search engine rankings. This process is referred to as cloaking as it conceals the actual website and returns distorted web pages to search engines crawling the site. This can mislead users about what they’ll find when they click on a search result. Google highly disapproves of
any such practice and might place a ban on the website which is found guilty of cloaking.

————————————————( END OF PART 1)———————————————————-

In our next post we will be discussing about:

  • Google Guidelines
  • Crawler / Spiders
  • Ranking Rule of Thumb
  • Values
  • Query – Dependent Factors
  • Meta Tags

Do comment for any queries or suggestions

SEO Tips For Bloggers

SEO for blogger

 

 

Content in CONTEXT is what Matters

This is what the folks that write great content were happy to hear! Write good stuff that your readers can use and you are off to the races. There are so many people that are fretting about what the Updates have and will do to their websites rank. If you write good content with the correct context you have nothing to fear! What do I mean by context? The definition of context is; the parts of a written or spoken statement that precedes or follows a specific word or passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect:
“You have misinterpreted my remark because you took it out of context.”

I think we all know what it feels like to have something we said taken out of context and misunderstood or misquote us. Google search is a program that can do that. It can index words or phrases and take them out of context. Giving words a different meaning than we intended or indexing our sites or articles in places we never intended for them to be. When we link out to other articles and back to our own previous work we can help Google understand the context of our work and help place content in search for our ideal clients to find them.

When you approach back linking with a strategy to link to other content that is relevant to your article and topic you can help Google and your readers understand the context of your article and content. This article by Search Engine Watch can help explain further great basic back linking strategy for SEO.

 

For many years SEO was worked so that sites and articles would come up under as many key phrases as possible. This can cause sites and work to end up in places they just don’t belong and with ranking not deserved. Google wants its clients to find what they are looking for just like we want our ideal client coming to us! This is a good thing! We don’t want our readers boucing from our site because they didn’t find what they were looking fror nor do we want to be left out in the cold because some other site is ranking for keywords that aren’t relavent to their business.

 

Now there are SEO best practice skills that still apply and learning how to get your content out to the people that are most likely to need and share our work is more important than ever. Social media plays a much bigger role in helping you get the search rank that will get you the traffic to increase your business. Finding the right traffic is what we all should be after.

Don’t be upset if what you were once getting indexed for isn’t getting the same rank anymore. Get off it and write content that is mixed with the correct context that will be shared, commented on and of value to your readers. Stop wasting your time writing junk that will not help anyone thinking more is better. DELIVER the goods and you will receive the rank you crave and the business you were hoping to find when you built your website. You see, the best scret SEO tips are what we all should be doing to start with!

4 Social Media Goals Every Business Should Measure

Are you winging it when it comes to your social activity?

The expression “social media ROI” gets tossed around frequently and you know it’s important.

But where do you start and how do you relate what to measure online with your overall business goals?

Here are four business goals, how social media can impact these goals and most importantly, how you can measure the impact of your social media efforts on these goals.

Determine how each goal below relates to your specific business goals and then choose which social media results are relevant to measure.

Goal #1: Raise Awareness of Your Brand

Do you want to increase your brand recognition and online influence?

It’s important to stay relevant. If customers aren’t aware of your brand and what it stands for, your business may be spinning its wheels.

When customers are aware of your brand and interact with it on different social media sites, they are more likely to recommend it to their friends by liking posts on Facebook and retweeting you on Twitter.

Stamp

 

Here’s how to measure your brand recognition and influence online.

Klout looks at your various profiles from across the web to assess your influence. Your Klout score is a reflection of your brand’s social influence based on your activity across many social networks and ranges between 10 (low) to 100 (Bieber).

Klout

 

Digging deeper into your score, Klout can provide further analysis, including:

  • True Reach: How many people you influence (the width of your influence)
  • Amplification: How much you influence people (the depth of your influence)
  • Network Impact: How influential your audience is (the impact of your influencers)

AK

 

To measure the effectiveness of your PR and branding efforts, record your Klout Score, True Reach, Amplification and Network Impact on a spreadsheet each month. Then, over time, your changes in scores will allow you to understand which efforts improve your score.

NOTE: It’s important to remember that Klout is simply evaluating your external social media presence. It is not a direct measurement of your revenue or success as a business. It’s an important distinction because people can get easily swept away in trying to increase these social media numbers.

Goal #2: Website Traffic

Have you wanted to drive more traffic to your site or blog?

Traffic is important to all sites, especially if you’re selling online.

While website traffic should never be the end-all, be-all goal of your website, in orderto accomplish other website goals, you must have a baseline level of traffic.

If you create the most beautiful, efficient website you can, it won’t matter without traffic.

Don’t get me wrong, there many other factors that can influence conversions, but website traffic is the fuel required to even begin the race.

Besides sales opportunities, the more people you have visiting your site, the more chances people have to engage with your blog content, click your social media widgets, interact with your brand or share your site with friends and followers using your sharing buttons.

toll gate three

 

Here’s how to measure visits from social media traffic.

Google Analytics makes this process very simple for any website owner.

To understand traffic, use Google Analytics Social Reports, which show site data generated directly from over 400 social sites.

  • Open your Google Analytics account.
  • Select the Traffic Sources tab.
  • From the Social drop down menu, select the Overview page.
  • Record Visits and Visits via Social Referral into your spreadsheet.

google

 

Goal #3: Website Visitor Loyalty

Do you want to increase the amount of time spent on your site or blog?

The more time people spend on your page, the more likely they are to buy from you.

If the people visiting your page only do it once, then you’re not executing a long-term web strategy. Ideally, you want to create loyal visitors who frequent your site.

Another very important aspect of visitor loyalty is to understand on average how many visits are required for one of your visitors to convert.

conversion could be a visitor purchasing from your site, signing up for an email newsletter or downloading an ebook.

Customer Loyalty

 

Here’s how to measure visitor loyalty from social media.

This measurement requires a one-time setup step (Part A), but once completed it can be easily reused for future measuring (Part B).

You’ll need to create a custom segment inside Google Analytics specific to your social media traffic.

Visitor loyalty numbers will depend greatly on your site type, your readers and the content you produce. Therefore, it’s important to look at your baseline levels, set a goal and measure your trend over time.

Part A—Setup

  1. Open Google Analytics, and click into your Admin panel.
  2. Click the Advanced Segments link. Click Create + New Segment.

AS

  • Name this new segment “Social Media Sources.”
  • Click the green drop down menu and select the green Source. Inside the text input box, enter the URL of one social media site, such as “Facebook.com.”

SM

 

Click the Add OR Statement, then click Add a Dimension, and again select Source to add another site. Repeat Step #4 to add another social media referring source such as Twitter.

AD

 

  1. Repeat Step #5 to add all major social media sources, such as Facebook, Twitter, t.co, YouTube, StumbleUpon and Digg. Once these have been added to your Custom Segment, click the Save Segment button.

Part B—Measuring Loyalty

  1. From Google Analytics Standard Reporting, select the Audience tab.
  2. From the Behavior drop down menu, select the Frequency & Recency page.
  3. Click the Advanced Segments tab, check your custom Social Media Sources, and hit the Apply button.

ASD

 

Add the percentage of total Visits (top percent number) for the first three Count of Visits rows (3 visits or fewer) and subtract this percentage from 100% to calculate your Regulars value. Record your Regulars percentage on your spreadsheet. My goal is to increase my Regulars percentage over time.

VC

 

Goal #4: Conversion Rates

Do you want to increase total conversions from social media?

Most business owners want to understand the direct relationship between social activities and sales.

You should know the traffic source for any important business goal and these goals should be set up in Google Analytics or your software of choice.

For most of you, the most important web goal is a visitor converting to a lead captured by entering personal information into one of your web forms. For businesses that conduct the majority of business online, these goals are the lifeblood of the organization and are key measures of success.

Even if you’re just getting started acquiring customers or leads online, you should make this measurement a primary focus of your efforts.

Buy Now!

 

Here’s how to measure conversions from social media.

Using the Social Reports within Google Analytics, we can understand the specific value of each social network. Of course, you need to have goals set up within Google Analytics for the conversion information to be displayed.

Do the following:

  1. Open your Google Analytics account.
  2. Select the Traffic Sources tab.
  3. From the Social drop down menu, select the Conversions page.

TS

 

Record Conversions and Conversion Value into your spreadsheet. Consider recording this value more often than monthly.

SMC

 

Conclusion

I recommend you measure your goals on a monthly basis, record these numbers in a Google spreadsheet and monitor the increases or decreases month-to-month. As a bonus, the measurements outlined here can all be done with free software.

Don’t fool yourself into believing that social media is completely free marketing. Your time is valuable, especially if you’re just starting up or you’re a small business. Unfocused efforts spent on social media can quickly become a huge time sink.

By measuring your social media impact, you ensure the best use of your time and resources.

What do you think? What social media metrics are you measuring? What questions do you have about measuring goals? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

If You Don’t Think Social Signals are Important for SEO, You Don’t Know Google Very Well

Social-Ecosystem

There are still many in the search engine optimization industry that are fighting the concept that Google (and Bing) is taking social signals into account at a high level when determining search rankings.

These people fall into three categories:

  1. Those who haven’t had the ability or desire to test it. If you test it thoroughly, it because extremely clear that it’s real.
  2. Those who do not have the ability to generate and promote high quality, shareable content as part of their SEO strategy. If you can’t do it, you might as well pretend like it doesn’t exist.
  3. Those who have read the blog posts of either of the previous two and took the opinions as truth.

The reality is that, based upon extensive testing that we’ve been running (not to mention some of the things that Google has said over the last couple of years), social signals have a significant impact on the overall SEO of websites.

There’s another thing to consider, though, as pointed out by Search Engine Watch last month. Google is paying attention to social signals through Google Analytics. Some might say that it’s a natural addition to the service since people consider social media to be an important part of their overall marketing, but that’s simply not how Google works. If they add something to Analytics, it’s because they consider it to be important. There’s no need for them to track it if they aren’t considering it in some algorithm, and the most likely algorithm that social signals could effect is their search ranking algorithm.

When Google says something with their actions, it behooves those in SEO to listen. Are you listening?

An SEO Fixation Will Destroy Your Internet Marketing Strategy

SEO Perfect Company

 

Don’t get me wrong: I love SEO and we do a lot of SEO work. However some businesses turn SEO into an obsession, and that’s a big mistake.

The fatal flaw of an SEO fixation is that it takes your eye off the ball. SEO is about traffic. Traffic is important, but it’s not the goal. The fundamental purpose of Internet marketing, as I see it anyway, is conversion.

First CRO, Then SEO

A typical scenario, and one that makes no sense to me, is when a firm spends tons on SEO and pennies on conversion rate optimization (CRO). They’re driving more traffic to their site – but so what? If their lead generation site features ho-hum offers or no offers at all, people won’t inquire. If their e-commerce site has baffling navigation, people won’t buy.

For companies like these, even sizable increases in search traffic will fail to translate into a meaningful increase in conversions. The result:

  1. A significant part of the SEO spend is wasted
  2. Companies grow dissatisfied with their SEO program
  3. Companies change their SEO strategy or hire another provider
  4. The cycle of ineffectiveness continues

That companies should tune-up their sites for conversion before launching into a big SEO program is as obvious as can be – so why do so many people miss it? I’d love to know your thoughts about this, but here are some of the reasons I see:

Why Companies Fixate on SEO, Not CRO

  • Ego problem one. Companies want to see their name as the number one result on Google for their pet keyword phrases.
  • Ego problem two. Companies tend to feel their products and services are so awesome that the mere mention of them on their website will have prospects stampeding to the order desk. They don’t recognize the need for compelling offers, intuitive navigation, and an all-around positive user experience.
  • Monkey see, monkey do. The world is inundated with SEO practitioners and SEO advice. Most companies are led to believe that SEO is indispensible, that their competitors are doing SEO, and they will get their butts kicked if they don’t participate.
  • Monkey don’t see, monkey don’t do. In contrast, how many CRO gurus are out there banging the drum for their extremely important discipline? They are badly outnumbered, and as a result, fewer businesses come to fully appreciate the value of their specialty.
  • Easy and accessible metrics. Traffic and ranking statistics are easy to grab and easy to grasp – on the surface, anyway. A company sees traffic and ranking trending up, and figures the program must be working.
  • Fuzzy lead tracking. Conversion tracking, on the other hand, is rather tricky to set up properly, which is why a lot of small and midsized firms have little or no idea where their web leads are coming from. That being the case, they have no way to formulate a conversion optimization strategy
  • No appetite for offers. Due to budget constraints, decision-by-committee, lack of imagination or a number of other reasons, firms have a tough time coming up with offers that are big enough and creative enough to win the hearts and minds of visitors.

Conversion Isn’t The Only Problem

This could be a post in itself, but I’ll just mention in passing that SEO can no longer be executed in isolation; for SEO to succeed today it must be thoroughly integrated with other marketing disciplines in addition to conversion optimization – most notably, with social media.

There are still too many SEO campaigns that fail to leverage social sharing, and fail to include meaningful and strategic content creation. Programs like these simply cannot succeed.

Companies need to look at online marketing holistically, rather than trying to pick and choose specific disciplines to invest in. This sounds logical, just like putting the CRO house in order before diving into SEO. And yet, how many small and midsized firms actually have a holistic strategy?

How to Stop Feeding the SEO Habit

Again, I am not suggesting that SEO is bad or that companies should suspend SEO activities while they shore up other aspects of their marketing. SEO is something that must be done continuously; it has a cumulative effect. So rather than stop or suddenly change gears, take these actions to make a smooth transition from SEO-obsessed to SEO-balanced.

  • Do a CRO audit. If a business looked at a comprehensive set of conversion optimization recommendations, I think it would be quite shocked to see how much room for improvement there was – and the tremendous upside of making those improvements. If that’s the case with your site, remember that a new investment in CRO will be partially offset by improved results from your existing SEO program.
  • Do a holistic strategy review. As I said earlier, it’s unproductive to arbitrarily decide which marketing activities to emphasize. SEO is only valuable in terms of how its ROI compares to other activities, and is in many ways reliant on other activities to maximize its own ROI. Whether yours is a $100,000 business or a $100 million business, the best results come from a strategic approach.

Going through these exercises will put you in a much better marketing frame of mind.

Where do you see SEO fitting in to your marketing strategy? How do you see the relationship between SEO and social media evolving?