- Competitive Analysis
- Search Engine Optimization
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As a member of the SEO team at Blue Corona, sometimes it’s easier to optimistically believe that SEO will be around forever and that my regular “client wins” will continue coming down the pipeline from the same tactics month-over-month. But if you read this blog regularly, you’ll see that the SEO world constantly changes (thanks to brands that try to manipulate the search engines and cheat SEO and then algorithm updates from Google that try to combat that).
But instead of being discouraged, industry professionals (from Blue Corona and SMX East alike) try to push the boundaries to focus on long-term SEO success. And with that mentality, I chose to attend Long-Term SEO Success: How to Win for Years, Not Days as my first session of day three.
Short term SEO can cripple a company and ruin an online presence. Long term SEO can grow a brand and earn online authority.
Consider the Search User Experience
Normally, we talk about user experience (sometimes referred to as UX), but Google doesn’t care about all users’ experience on your site…they care about search users’ experience (the panelist got some giggles from the audience for abbreviating that to “SUX”). As funny as the acronym may be, your SEO strategy won’t “suck” if you focus on search user experience. That means understanding how visitors that come from search interact and navigate your site. Search users may have a different buying process than direct visitors (so how will that impact the content you promote and the path for which they navigate through your site?).
Metrics that Google uses to evaluate on-site search user experience include:
- Bounce rate
- Click through rate
- Conversion rate
- Dwell time
- Time on site
When attempting to improve these metrics (and thus improve your search user experience), focus on the pages that drive the most traffic—not all your metrics as a whole. Focusing on the largest traffic driving pages will impact your metrics on a much more scalable level.
Still not sure about who your users are? Survey them! The panelists recommend SurveyMonkey, Qualaroo, and Qualtrics. Give your users enough time to experience your site and brand but catch them for feedback before they leave your site (and impact your bounce rate).
Guiding Principles on Best Long Term SEO Practices
Once you understand your users, make sure that your SEO and content marketing are all aligned with their goals and your company’s goals. Keep in mind:
- SEO cannot be an afterthought (embed SEO best practices into the content workflow from creation to execution)
- Give people what they want (listen to your audience and align content with the interest of searchers)
- Give the search engine what it wants (optimize your site code and structure so it is crawler friendly)
- Scale SEO practice (the gift that keeps on giving through technology, templates, and optimized workflow)
- Close the loop and monitor your results (identify what works, find out why, and repeat it)
Guide the Technical SEO Portion Right
Outside of penalty related SEO blunders, most of SEO disasters can be avoided—think of Murphy’s law of whatever can go wrong will go wrong. In that sense, keep your site code and structure in check so that nothing goes wrong with your rankings and user experience that can be blamed on your end.
Keep the following parts updated and test them to ensure they’re working as they should:
- Noindex, no follow
- Disappearing 201s
- Disappearing on-site links
- Titles, H1 tags, and content changes
- Crawl issues
- Nofollow links
- 302 redirects
- Unintentional cloaking
Beyond SEO: What Can You (Safely) Do in 2014?
At Blue Corona, we’re focused on driving our clients’ web presence beyond SEO. But with algorithm updates and Google penalties, extra work outside traditional SEO can be daunting (both in the effort it requires and in the punishment that unnatural effort could result in). Here’s what you can still do to build upon your SEO efforts for long-term online success for your company:
- Outreach – focus on natural outreach that would drive qualified users to your website
- Directories – just use respected industry directories
- Press Releases – use just one branded link and avoid optimized anchor text. Stories that get picked up from that can lead to links
- Content Marketing – but be wary of anchor text optimization
- Social – build your reputation and gain social links within your community
About the Panelists
Mark Munroe, Director of SEO, Trulia
Ken Shults, Managing Director Global Consulting, Global Strategies, An Ogilvy Company
Follow Blue Corona at SMX East!
Curious as to what Ben and Hannah are up to in the Big Apple? Follow them on Twitter at @BenLanders and @Hannah_Bernice. Be sure to check out more SMX Live Blog posts from our team and the official conference Twitter (@SMX) and hashtag (#SMX).
About The Author:
Hannah is the SEO Team Lead at Blue Corona. If she’s not busy daydreaming about the training session for her team, you can find her improving client conversion rates and planning her next trip.
View more blogs by Hannah Nelson