2010 was a year of change and learning. And in the world of digital, particularly SEO, this carried true. We saw some tactics that really stood out in terms of seeing solid success in the SEO channel. In this piece, I’ve outlined seven key SEO activities that have really made an impact to our client’s businesses in the past year and which should continue to hold true this year.
Looking back when we entered 2010, as an agency we started to see a real interest in the SEO channel across both existing and new business. Quite frankly, a surge of interest that we’ve never really seen before. Less attention was being placed on media intensive activities to drive traffic and more on taking a deeper look inside your site and ensuring you’re getting the fundamentals right with your SEO. Particularly in a period when budgets are tight, marketers were looking for ways to make their money go farther, and SEO had clearly proven to be one of the higher long-term ROI channels in digital.
So, below I’ve summarised a list of the most important SEO activities that we saw bring in the greatest return for our clients.
1. Analytics: Having a Web analytics solution in place is absolutely critical and ensuring it’s tracking SEO properly is priceless. Countless times we see SEO programs in place, but without any accurate tracking on a granular level. We saw many agencies last year working with marketers to ensure analytics is implemented and working alongside SEO. If it’s not set up now, make it a priority.
2. Content: 2010 was the year of content. The general consensus among clients was that they felt they’ve hit the limits in acquiring more users with existing content. It was time to think differently and develop new content themes to attract new users. This meant revisiting their core brand and mapping out tertiary relationships to develop new content and lots of it.
3. Speed: Having a well-optimised site and one that loads fast became more and more important last year. In fact, in April, Google released a new signal in its algorithm called ‘site speed‘, which effectively reflects how quickly a website responds to Web requests. Essentially, faster websites create happier users. Advertisers with faster sites can rank higher, thereby bringing in more traffic.
4. IDNs: International domain names (IDNs) are domain names represented in local language characters (Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, etc.). In Japan, we saw a great deal of experimentation going on with buying specific IDNs that contained keywords most relevant to the business. Both Google and Yahoo seemed to reward these types of domains and we saw powerful results because of it.
5. Social: We saw success in seeing marketers look beyond their domains to understand what ‘social elements’ they have – video, press releases, blogs, Facebook pages, etc., and how to effectively optimise these assets to break into the search engine results pages and drive traffic. As the results pages have become more blended, the importance of optimising all that content becomes critical.
6. Satellite sites: Similar to social, another area that saw attention and was equally impactful was in developing entirely new websites based on a particular theme related to your core business and linking this with your main site. For example, if I operate an online travel site selling hotels, I may create a separate site just on student travel in Europe and work to optimise and link to the main site.
7. Linking: As the saying goes in SEO, “If content is king, then links are queen”. Building quality links (emphasis on quality) overtime has always proven to be an effective activity. This was true in 2010 and will be equally true this year, as the engines become smarter at detecting the difference between good and bad links. Key: ensure that the links you’re buying are topical to the pages you’re targeting.
The number seven appears to be a universally lucky or holy number – the seven wonders of the world, seven seas, seven days of the week, even the seven dwarfs. Note these “7 virtues of SEO” from last year, learn from them, and integrate them into what you’re doing this year, and let us know how they work for you.
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