Over the last couple years, Google has been changing its algorithm to improve its ability to deliver search results that satisfy site visitors. As a result, earned media, the domain of PR, is now central to a company’s SEO standing.
Do you want to see the history of the algorithm changes? Hubspot has a good infographic.
The major shift started with something called the Panda update in 2011. In a nutshell, Panda meant Google began to increase the value of quality over quantity. If your site provided high-quality information then the SEO rewards were yours for the taking.
Then in 2012, they upped the game with the Penguin update. With this update, SEO firms began to lose hold of their ability to manipulate SEO with spammy links from link farms.
Then in the summer of 2013, Google’s Hummingbird update started to fly. This update improved Google’s semantic search capability with a better understanding of intent and context. It rewarded sites with content matching the way people actually search and most likely to deliver what users are seeking.
In May 2015, more than one SEO professional probably left work crying. The Phantom update, which become known as the Quality update, took the value of quality to new levels. Some sites reported losing as much of 50 percent of website traffic. Although the specifics are mysterious, Google has provided some guidelines on quality. They suggest useful, unique, informative, engaging and valuable content. Extra points if you make it specific. In short, deliver a good user experience.
If you have not drastically overhauled your SEO practices in the last few years, you are probably paying the price. So what does this mean for marketers? How does it change your action plan in 2016? Let us review the changes and what it means to you.
Be relevant and add high-quality value
Provide high-quality information relevant to your target customer’s needs. Provide insights on today’s topics using natural language. Rid your site of spelling and style errors. Use unique research and citations, and cut excessive ads. Thought leadership campaigns can provide valued expertise and original thought from the innovators in your company.
Build real relationships to associate with authoritative sites
Use PR to focus on building backlinks from sites with authority. Build long-term relationships with credible media sites, industry analysts and popular bloggers.
Speak to your customer’s intention
Don’t sell, in order to sell. Write content that delivers on the visitor’s central user intention. Know what your customers are looking for in an unaided fashion with their search. Directly address the customer need. Don’t write like a robot. Use conversational language with long-tail keywords.
Amplify, engage, interact
Attract the right visitors by amplifying your content via social media that tells them exactly what they will find. This improves your user experience once a user gets to your site. Deliver regular content updates to keep it fresh. Encourage a real conversation with your company by using comment boxes, social media widgets and call-to-action buttons.
Be transparent and personal
To build credibility and trust, be clear about your specific accomplishments. Provide testimonials from real customers. Invite reviews from credible reviewers and industry analysts to validate your claims. Participate in industry award programs to gain credit where credit is due. Use author biographies.
Bring your content to life
When delivered the right way, infographics, video, podcasts and images will improve your site’s user experience. Add a personal touch with images of your team and product.
When reviewing the core competencies needed to deliver on the new SEO reality, it is easy to see that traditional marketing firms are no longer the best solution. PR is central to SEO success. Traditional PR, digital PR, content optimization and social media are the building blocks of the new SEO. With established influencer relationships, the PR professional’s skillset is suited to build credible backlinks and encourage engagement and interactivity. Tools and processes that amplify content are already mastered by PR professionals. And perhaps most importantly, from the beginning of time, PR required a deep understanding of customer needs. In 2016, you will certainly see this shift in responsibility.
Download this infographic.