|Keeping up with SEO today is not for the faint of heart.|
There’s one thing that I can say about search engine optimization (SEO) today – it’s not for the faint of heart.
Anyone in the trenches these days knows that SEO left the era of tweaking title and meta tags a long time ago. With universal search, personalized search, social media, a global economy and a little thing called Twitter (who would have guessed?), keeping on top of things on a daily basis takes almost Kryptonian endurance.
Rather than going the way of the bell bottom, SEO continues to grow and expand into previously unknown territories, adapting with each. Anyone who says SEO is dead must be hiding in a cave waiting for the economy to revive. Those of us not hiding and continuing to fight the fight know that, if anything, SEOs are busier than ever in this economy, some even passing up business because they can’t handle any more work.
What’s keeping them so busy?
- Personalized search – If you haven’t noticed, traditional ranking reports are dead because what I see as a search result in Palm Springs can be totally different from what you might see in New York City. Personalized search can follow you around by IP address and dish out a focused localized result. And, get this, YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE LOGGED IN for Google to do this.
- The Mobile web – Everything is going mobile. That iPhone or other smart phone that you carry around means the web is becoming more integrated into your life on both personal and professional levels. This means content for the mobile web needs to be developed to stay in front of the consumer. This can be in forms like widgets, listings on mobile maps and even visibility on Twitter, which is very popular on mobile devices.
- Social Media – Need I say more? The exploding popularity of Facebook, LinkedIn and, again, Twitter, means that opportunities to optimize and create content for these social markets are exploding as well. Create social media link bait in many forms – content, video, badges, widgets, etc. And, remember, what was once the playground of the young is maturing. Older folks have joined in, too, so don’t think your target audience is made up of all kids.
- Local search – National and international chains are filling the local search space, so if you are a small guy, you need to claim your spot fast! Local search is HOT! Get your clients in there while you can and fill their listings with great content, links, images and video.
- Globalization – For all of the talk of local search optimization, the global market can’t be ignored and isn’t, so if you have a site that is ripe for a global market, get with it because your competition will definitely jump in. Keep in mind that globalization requires a form of localization. To reach a market in another country, you can’t just translate your site without keeping local vernacular and customs in mind.
- Transportability – Is your content available in multiple formats – PDF, widget, video, etc. that can be given away and posted on other sites? If not, you’re missing out on a great opportunity for branding and linking. Everyone loves something free, especially rich media, so why not provide content that can be given away to benefit you? Besides, site visitors pretty much expect rich media and freebies these days.
- Multiple listings – Universal search means that you can’t just create web pages anymore. Search results dish out images, video and rich media all at once, so to compete, you have to generate and optimize all of these as well. If you really want to dominate the first page of the search results with your web pages, blog postings, videos and images, SEOs now have to wear all of these hats.
- Affiliates – With the increasing popularity of social media, these programs are on the rise. And, as mentioned above, as the mobile web takes off, affiliate offers will be right there with it, so building a solid affiliate network is essential.
- Twitter - This microblogging site that many passed off as useless has become the darling of the search marketing world. If you don’t have a Twitter account for your business, get one. Although you are limited to 140 characters in your tweet, this free service has proven to be a boon to many online businesses for branding, customer service and just plain fun. Take a look at @zappos , the Twitter profile for the CEO of the online retailer Zappos. Nearly 300,000 followers tells you something in itself! Post updates, items of information, even your inventory as it updates, but don’t make it all promotional. What folks want is useful information.
Whew! And this doesn’t even mention the day to day optimization of a site (on page, content writing, architecture and all of that fun stuff).
So, how does one keep up with all of this? Naturally, you need to attend SEO conferences as often as the budget will allow. These are treasure troves of information that sometimes just can’t be found online (and the networking can be priceless). Also, subscribe to and read SEO news and information sites like Danny Sullivan’s Search Engine Land and Loren Baker’s Search Engine Journal, among others.
On the home front, try to get SEO integrated into the production cycle. This can make things so much easier than going back to retrofit everything. Yes, I know, getting everyone on board with this can be a super human effort itself, so take off those glasses and grab your cape. Your best bet is to grit your teeth and be nice, even sickly sweet. Play well with others. Maybe they’ll get so sick of it they’ll beg you to stop if they do what you want!
Bottom line is that an SEO has to be more than an SEO these days, with expertise in rich media, social networking, affiliate marketing, mobile web, global optimization and search engines.
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