Recently, Google completely transformed the world of SEO tactics. Many B2B marketers are still under the impression that if they optimize all of the pages on their website with as many keywords as possible, that will drive traffic to their website and improve their search engine ranking. While this was true at one time, trying to get Google's attention at the expense of focusing on what your audience wants is no longer a viable internet marketing strategy. Google has made it this way. Today, successful marketers will need to create remarkable content targeted to their audience and their marketing personas. In fact, some are now starting to refer to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) with the new term CEO (Customer Experience Optimization).
With Google's Penguin and Panda changes implemented beginning in April 2012, Black Hat SEO practices are discouraged and White Hat SEO strategies are being encouraged by Google to get marketers to create the useful and rich content that your audience now demands.
Here are the top 4 changes you will need to implement on your website to bring your internet marketing efforts in line with Google's changes.
1. Feature Quality Content More Than Keywords
If you have been stuffing as many keywords as you can find on your website, you may get penalized by Google and lose some or all of your search ranking. Take out the text boxes full of keywords at the bottom of your page and make your site titles are authentic, clear, and descriptive. The content of each page should also be rich in useful, relevant information for your audience so you can give them the WIIFM (What's In It For Me?). For bloggers, the biggest change is that now, blog posts should be around 600 words. That's going to require you to think longer and harder about what you write and how that informs your audience.
2. Provide a Clear Site Map and Text Links
Your website should be easy to navigate for both your audience and easy for search engines to understand. You'll have to get in tune with your audience and what their needs and personalities are. In essence, you will have to think like your target users. It is more important than ever to clearly define your target personas and lay out your website so that it is simple and intuitive for them to navigate. Every page should be logically placed and reachable from at least one static text link on your website.
3. Create a Useful, Informative Website
Search engines want their users to find the information they need, not useless sites that are just stuffed with empty keywords. So be sure to write pages that accurately describe your content. Your <title> tags and ALT-text attributes must be descriptive, clear and related to the content you are presenting on that page. You should not be using a keyword that is not related to the content on that page simply to "trick" a search engine into ranking your site higher. It is a habit a lot of marketers have yet to change.
4. Use Website URLs That Are User-friendly
By all means, continue to use keywords on your website URLs, but use the right keywords to create descriptive, user-friendly URLs. Your keywords should feel authentic, not spammy, and should describe the page the visitor is on. For example, if you land on the "About Us" page of your website, the URL should not be "buy-viagra-online-cheap-today.html." Search engines see this, compare it to the content on the page and drop your site into a freefall from which it may not recover.
One last thought for your consideration: there has been a lot of discussion about the future of SEO and how relevant it will be in the coming months and years. Some feel that SEO will be dead in two years. Others believe that SEO will continue through social media and PR. These and other opinions were presented in a great article written by Ken Krogue in Forbes titled "The Death Of SEO: The Rise of Social, PR, And Real Content."
You be the judge. What do you think?