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Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization, Social Media

And Now for Something Completely Different: 4 New Ways to Think About SEO in 2016 ft. @RandFish

new-seo

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Recently I’ve noticed a change in Google search rankings. When I searched certain keywords, Twitter threads came up. So I tried adding keywords to clients’ social media posts to see if I could get their tweets to rank, increase brand awareness, and increase website traffic.

I was almost surprised when it worked.

Search engine ranking algorithms evolve faster than a zombie plague in a horror film – we all know this. Yet most business owners are barely keeping pace with what Google was doing two years ago. If you’re still thinking in terms of Pandas and Hummingbirds, let’s get you up to date for the SEO changes and challenges of 2016.

1. Use Twitter activity to bump your website traffic via SERPs

In 2015, Twitter gave Google access to live data streams of their 284 million users, which means real-time tweets can and will show up on search engine results. You can build on this by promoting your Twitter activity, planning your tweets to include keywords and a link to your site, and using 1-2 relevant hashtags to increase engagement. I also like leveraging the power of images on Twitter, so I pair images I create on Buffer’s Pablo image creator with my Twitter content.

Bottom line: Google’s indexing of Twitter is set to grow dramatically this year. Are you ready?

2. Hashtag trend watch

WordStream Data Scientist Marc Irvine published an interesting bit of research in December of 2015 showing that trending hashtags can predict breakout search terms hours in advance. If your plan to drive traffic to your site includes capitalizing on real-time search interest, this is news you can use:

“For the dozen popular hashtags I followed that week, on average, search interest for these terms would increase 500% over the 6 hours of their breakout on Twitter and then stay elevated for many hours or even days following that.”

Bottom line: You may not be able to see into the future, but Twitter can. So pay attention.

3. The rise of adblocking is just the beginning

Overt sales methods like traditional online ads and marketing emails are coming up against increasing resistance among consumers. One of Rand Fishkin’s 2016 predictions for SEO web marketing includes “entrenched players” trying to “legislate [ad blocking] away.” It won’t work, in my opinion, because adblocking programs aren’t the problem – they’re the symptom. A symptom of a population which has been sold to six ways ‘til Sunday and is over-sensitized. Another trend I’ve been seeing is people unsubscribing from marketing emails and newsletters, a reaction to the marketing dump that has become our inboxes.

Bottom line: SEO is going to become even more important as a way for your ideal customers to find you. Because, if you try to find them first, they’ll ignore you.

4. Google’s got some competition (finally)

If you haven’t heard of DuckDuckGo yet, by the end of this year, you will. In 2015, this search engine grew by leaps and bounds and many early adopters in tech converted. Why are people switching? Big Brother Google is watching, but DDG bills itself (pun intended – get it? Bills? Ducks have them? Okay.) as “the search engine that doesn’t track you. A superior search experience with smarter answers, less clutter and real privacy.” What does this mean for SEO and web marketing? Consider it yet another reaction to a culture of constant selling. After all, if the search engine doesn’t track you, it can’t target ads at you either.

Bottom line: The rules for ranking with DuckDuckGo are standard: “Having quality links, quality content, using hyperlocal keywords and being mobile ready with a responsive website are all important.”

If you’re noticing a couple of trends running throughout this list: Good! Here they are in a nutshell:

  • Social media is becoming increasingly important as a tool for organic, inbound marketing.
  • Organic, inbound marketing is becoming far more effective in the face of people blocking, unsubscribing, and outright rejecting blatant outbound/traditional marketing methods.

Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Search Engine Optimization

Why The Best Content Marketers Cringe at SEO Questions by @NikkiElizDeMere

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

There are many words that can be crammed in front of “content marketing” or “copywriting.” There’s “data-driven content marketing,” “conversion copywriting,” and “customer success copywriting.”

But by far the most frequently used (and abused) term among non-copywriters is “SEO copywriting.”

In Google’s  top seven search queries for “SEO,” “SEO blog” is currently rising by 300 percent, and hundreds of queries exist for “SEO copywriter,” “copywriting for SEO,” and “SEO copywriting services.”

Everyone needs search engine optimization. What makes the best content marketers and copywriters cringe when they hear “SEO” is this:

Just a few years ago, “SEO” typically meant cramming keywords into copy and titles. If you crammed in enough of them, and they were the right ones, the website would see a boost in traffic. This lead to a lot of very bad, nearly unreadable, blog posts.

And, this is the definition of SEO that is lodged in the minds of many people currently searching for “SEO copywriting services.”

And, these searchers are also typically the people who ask things like:

“Do you do SEO writing?”

“Is your content strategy SEO?”

“Will this work for SEO?”

When I hear any of those questions, I always have to make sure they know what SEO means now – not back in 2009. Usually, a lengthy explanation ensues, and it goes like this…

SEO is not about keywords

Yes, keywords are still part of SEO, but that’s like saying that a baker means someone who only makes frosting. You’re missing the whole cake.

Here’s what you need to know about keywords.

Google has come a long way from only directing users to their exact match keywords on websites. For starters, they’ve been including semantic modifiers, natural language, and even verbal queries (like when you ask your Smart Phone for the best nearby Thai food that delivers).

The way in which people ask questions is changing, and Google is totally on top of it with algorithms that learn what your site has to offer from its context and content, not just keywords.

For example, if I’m looking for “delivery pad thai in Tampa Bay,” a keyword-only based search would pull up sites with the words “delivery,” “pad,” “Thai,” and “Tampa Bay.” I could find sites on anything from childbirth to Thai grocery stores with search terms like that. But, what the semantic search algorithm introduced by Hummingbird in 2013 does is to interpret the meaning behind my query. They know I’m looking for Thai food, even though I didn’t use that exact phrase.

Exact match keywords are still useful, but they’re far from the only thing you need to be found. Even though you optimize for a keyword, Google might use synonyms and similar variations to replace the user’s original search query to pull up more meaningful results.

Good content marketers base their content around topics (not keywords) of interest to their target audience, using natural language and good old-fashioned storytelling to catch and hold attention.

Keywords play second-fiddle to more important factors like buyer personas and buy cycle stages, around which content should be written.

As Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg and Hellobar, said:

In 2015 I see companies doing a lot less keyword research.

The trend I have been seeing is that companies are more so focusing on a long tail strategy, in which they blog and naturally rank for keywords.

Fewer companies each year are actually doing keyword research and manually building links to rank for specific keywords.

SEO is more about quality now than ever – which begs a question…

Today’s SEO best practices are based on how Google evaluates the quality and relevancy of content.

See, it’s Google’s mission to deliver the best search results that will help their searchers learn what they want to learn, do what they want to do, and achieve the success they’re searching for – even if it’s just the best Thai restaurant within a 2-mile radius.

That’s why we love Google. They’re looking out for us and improving how they do so every year.

So the question you need to ask is: What is the very best proof of the quality of your content?

Don’t overthink this, it’s very simple.

Do you share crummy content with your friends? No.

How often do you mention an eBook on Twitter that was a total waste of time? Not often.

Do you pin completely boring images to your Pinterest boards? Probably not.

The very best proof of the quality, relevancy and usefulness of your content is in how many people share it.

This is why when someone asks if a writer does “SEO writing,” it sends up a red flag that they don’t really understand what’s happening.

SEO now is more of a holistic strategy that depends on sharply targeted content. That content is the result of defining your target audience, creating carefully-researched buyer profiles, determining what interests and motivates your target, what they find helpful or funny, and what they want to accomplish.

The best content marketers aren’t just writers, and their research isn’t limited to keywords. Most importantly, they don’t base their content on guessing what an audience wants – they base it on what they’ve learned their audience needs.

The result is genuinely useful, hopefully original, but most importantly shareable content. Bonus points if, in producing this content, you prove yourself to be a thought-leader in your industry.

Content worth sharing is the only sure route to the summit of the SERP.


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Search Engine Optimization

How to Not Embarrass Yourself With International SEO by @NikkiElizDeMere

“Are you lactating?” – Mexico

“You’ll definitely eat your fingers.” – China

“Pepsi bring your ancestors back from the dead!” – China

“Every car has a high quality corpse.” – Belgium

“Female horse stuffed with wax” or “Bite the wax tadpole.” – China

If you haven’t figured it out yet, these are advertisements gone horribly wrong through translation. Can you guess which U.S. marketing campaigns go with which?

Got milk?

Finger-lickin’ good.

Come alive with Pepsi!

Every car has a high quality body. (Ford)

Coca-cola. Sounds like “Ke-Kou-Ke-La” in Chinese, which translates to “mare” and nascent amphibian, depending on the dialect.

When you’re tackling international SEO, it’s a much larger task than simply translating the copy on a website. It’s as much a piece of marketing as any advertising campaign, and to do it right (and avoid embarrassing yourself and the brand you’re working for) you have to understand the culture, dialects and idioms of your target audience.

Read more on SEMrush


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.