So you’re writing keyword-rich copy in the inverted pyramid style, including backlinks and making sure all your pages have unique and clear titles? That’s great, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to maximizing SEO potential. At the 2017 Social Shake-Up, Carolyn Shelby, SEO director at tronc, Inc., took the audience to school on all of the above, plus more key areas where communications pros have a blind spot.
The rules of search engine optimization (SEO) can change so quickly, by the time you implement yesterday’s best practices, a new set of considerations seemingly take their place. And that moving target is set to move again: Since more searches now come from mobile platforms than desktops, Google will soon roll out a fully updated mobile-first index, which considers the mobile version of a website its primary version.
From the typically right-brained perspective of PR, securing a high rank in search results can seem like an opaque process. While a comprehensive knowledge of search algorithms and web crawlers is handy, there’s more to SEO success than understanding the numbers. In fact, it’s possible to rank highly on Google with small teams and a tiny budget.
Today’s SEO is a complex stew of content, links, site performance, user experience and a bunch of other variables pushed to perform in a wide array of environments. But for all the considerations that go into developing a successful SEO strategy, it’s important to remember that the driving force behind SEO is people. At its core, SEO is just a machine that’s trying to keep up with humans’ search expectations by monitoring and emulating their behaviors. Keywords are one of the ways that search engines do this.
It turns out that one of those right-brain skills—good writing—may be the best SEO weapon available. Now more than ever, SEO success depends on strategic writing skills. Creating content that satisfies search engines’ need to deliver useful information improves Google search rankings.
SEO can be one of the most powerful tools at a communicator’s disposal—if it’s used correctly. Having an optimized website will drive valuable free traffic that can be converted into leads, advocates, fans and customers. But SEO can work against a site too, making poorly optimized destinations all but disappear. One of the bedrocks of a competent SEO strategy is having the right metrics in place. But with the fluid nature of Google’s algorithm changes, metrics have to be consistently monitored. Before the work of monitoring and adjusting an SEO strategy can begin, a baseline needs to be established.
Like almost everything in the digital space, SEO is in a constant state of flux. Driven by Google’s mandate to give web searchers the best possible experience, algorithms are continually tweaked to deliver on that promise. The only way for communicators to stay relevant in such a space is to stay informed and always use the latest tactics. To decode SEO in general and comprehend where it’s going, you have to understand where it’s been.
The internet doesn’t forget. Or does it? Through the miracles of science (and some clever PR professionals), online reputations are no longer as cemented in history as perhaps once thought. Enter the advent of reverse SEO. Think of it as SEO but, well, in reverse. The concept has been around for about a decade, and elements have seeped into the lexicon of public relations professionals. Namely, reputation management has caught on. But while reverse SEO shares characteristics of reputation management, reverse SEO is more specific to search results that pop up for clients when specific keywords or phrases are used.
Securing that coveted top ranking in search results requires equal parts art and science. Search companies are constantly changing and updating their algorithms, and recently they’ve been favoring quality content over quantity of content and keyword stuffing. To rank well your content has to first be good, and then be optimized.
There was a time, not too long ago, when PR and digital were acutely divided disciplines, often competing with one another for budgets. While that still may be the case for some, more and more PR and digital strategies such as SEO are integrating, working together to reach target audiences, improve user experience and garner a greater ROI. As a PR pro in this ever-changing landscape, it can be tough to navigate. The rules of SEO change almost daily thanks to Google.