SEO has always been two part – on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
But before the Panda Update, very few people put a focus on on-page SEO. It’s because with enough off-page work (mainly backlink building), it was possible to rank for almost any keyword. But, as you well know, that’s all changed.
Now, if anything, on-page SEO is more important than off-page. Especially post-Penguin, as Google’s pretty blatantly shown what they think about built backlinks.
In this world of New SEO, many internet marketers and online business owners are confused. They look at Google and think, “why does Google continually change their mind on SEO?” Fact is, they really haven’t.
But once we SEO’s got into the game, Google HAD to start making changes. Because it was either that or let the rankings be dictated by marketers.
So Google did make some changes – BIG changes. And it’s thrown us all for a loop.
But fortunately, we do have a direction. With “New SEO”, we identify Google’s main goal – that is, to stay #1 in the world of search.
With that in mind, we optimize our websites for USERS FIRST, SEARCH ENGINES SECOND.
In this article, we’ll go over a few tips on how to do that.
What’s the Searcher Looking For?
Whenever you search for something on Google, you’re looking to get the closest possible result to your search term.
So if you search “piano theory lessons”, you’re literally searching for piano theory lessons. Now, if Google displays a website that’s optimized for “piano theory lessons” but only sells pianos, you’re not going to be happy with your result!
As an internet marketer, SEO or online business owner, the key is to know your market. Know who’s looking for your website, and what, EXACTLY, they’re looking for. If you can identify this, you’ll know exactly what type of site to provide them with as soon as they hit their page!
The idea is to get your page to match as close to possible with the searcher’s intent. If you can do this, you’ll get Google love like never before.
You’re Listing Matters
This is a HUGE DEAL. Listen up!
Most people skip out on this and it is oh so important!
It’s not enough to rank on page #1. Realize that even if you are on page #1, you still have competition – you’re competing with nine other listings! And they’re all claiming to have what the searcher’s looking for.
So how are you going to stand out?
Google’s given us several ways we can stand out. Google’s new “trusted store” program is one way.
It is very easy to control how your website is presented to searchers. So do it! Go the extra mile and pimp out your listing. It’ll pay off in the long run, BIG TIME.
Last but certainly not least, remember – we’re in the social era! Social media is the bread and butter of business. The most successful businesses are those which properly integrate social media into their marketing campaigns.
So whenever you publish an article, whenever you make an update… make sure it’s sharable. If you’re writing a controversial article, make sure people can easily tweet about it! Take the initiative and share it on Reddit.
Getting MASSIVE traffic volume is easier than ever. But you have to prepare for it!
So on-page SEO is alive and well. But it’s a bit different than before. Instead of viewing it through the lens of “old SEO”—that is, a focus on keywords and “SEO content”—it’s viewed through a lens of “New SEO”.
How much value can we give to the customer? Can we provide EXACTLY what the searcher is looking for? If so, we’re in great shape moving forward.
Some Insight on the Future of SEO
In this next section we’ll be piggybacking off of an absolutely incredible SEO article by Rand of SEOMoz.org.
And we’re not even going to link to him.
Whoa! Talk about rude.
...maybe not. Read on and see!
On SEOMoz, Rand made a claim. A bold one. And we think you sharp SEOSiteCheckUp readers will know immediately where this is going.
He claimed that anchor text is going away. Yes, the foundation of backlink building is going away. Instead of anchor texts, Google will rank websites based on co-citations.
Huh? Stay with me!
What is a co-citation? Well, read the first paragraph of this article again. We mentioned SEO, and we mentioned SEOMoz.org. So what? Well, Rand says there are sites ranking high on Google for ultra-competitive keywords with little to no exact-match anchor text backlinks!
How is it possible? Well, instead of links, these websites are referenced in the content of other websites, along with the keywords they rank for!
In other words, that first paragraph I wrote could very well be just as valuable as a link.
Yes, this is a MASSIVE deal. MASSIVE. And yes, we—and the rest of you loyal readers—saw it coming a mile away.
We’ve talked about the death of backlinks. But even we weren’t thinking forward enough. No, we hypothesized social signals would replace them. And that has happened… to some small extent.
What Google’s doing with this is different – they’re taking the concept of backlinks and eliminating the need for the LINK. Instead, all that’s necessary in a co-citation is the NAME OF THE WEBSITE and the KEYWORD.
That’s right – no links are needed for a co-citation!
Why’s Google making this move? Well, think about spammers. Think about black-hat SEO. It revolves around linkspam! Yes, Google’s getting GREAT at detecting it. But it still takes time to eliminate a black-hat site.
A black-hat site could stay up on the search results for months before Google gets to it.
But think for a second. What if Google started toning down the amount of “juice” each link gives a webpage? Suddenly, not only would spammers be virtually helpless, low-quality sites that used basic SEO tactics would also begin to lose traction big-time.
Are backlinks finally dying?
What I did find a little funny about the post is where Rand went next. He talked about the future of SEO.
Well, I’m going to be upfront with you – at a certain point in the future, I think that SEO will be more difficult than actually building a business and a brand. Because that’s where we’re headed. We’re headed to a place where high-quality, well-known brands are ranking on Google.
And if you have to do SEO to get these co-citations, these mentions within an external site’s content, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle… big time.
At first glance, news like this can sting to some extent. We SEO’s have really had a rough past few years, haven’t we? Starting with Panda, continuing with Penguin… all the tactics we held dear have been ripped away from us. ;)
But this is GOOD NEWS.
Because internet marketing is changing. It’s maturing. Spam is less effective than it’s ever been, and will continue to lose its power. Meanwhile, building a REAL business that satisfies a REAL need in a market and has REAL customers will continue to gain trust within Google’s rankings.
Our recommendation? Don’t fight this change. We SEO’s already know far too well that when Google makes their minds up, there’s not a damn thing we can do to stop them.
And you might’ve noticed that lately, we’ve been changing the content up a bit here at SEOSiteCheckUp.com. Initially, we covered SEO topics almost exclusively. And although SEO still is the meat of our content, we’ve been talking a lot about business.
This isn’t an accident. We’ve realized that Google is moving in a very specific direction. Google wants you to build something that’s valuable. Why? Because when you build something that’s valuable to people and Google lists it, Google’s customers gain value.
It’s that simple. We’ve said it all before – the Golden Rule of Google: GOOGLE IS A BUSINESS.
Quality is King
Content is king, the “New SEO” – it’s easy to understand how these SEO philosophies apply to personal websites and online businesses offering a particular product or service through their website.
But these aren’t the only types of websites that benefit from SEO. E-commerce websites (online retail stores) live and die by their SEO – perhaps more than any other type of website. And these types of sites don’t have the same advantages as blogs or online business home pages.
Why not? Because in most cases, the website is designed around getting the products to the customer’s eyes as quickly as possible. There’s very little content, other than 100-300 words of product description text under each product.
So SEO isn’t the same for e-commerce sites. Does that mean Google lets them get off easy? Does Google’s Panda (and Penguin) algorithm apply to e-commerce stores? Absolutely.
This can make it very difficult to run an e-commerce site. How is it possible to add a significant amount of value to your site, when the only purpose is retail? It’s not as easy as adding 3,000 word product descriptions. However, there are several things you can do to bring “New SEO” principals to e-commerce stores.
Product Reviews MATTER – Big Time
Although e-commerce stores may have a disadvantage when it comes to certain aspects of SEO (long, fresh, regularly posted content, link bait, etc), they have a HUGE advantage in one particular area: product reviews.
And this is a BIG deal in post-Panda SEO. Product reviews have already been shown to increase rankings. But not only that – they also improve your business. People buy products based off of reviews. It’s that simple.
If you have reviews on your site, when people search for your product, the reviews show up in the search results. This makes your site a virtual magnet for prospective customers.
Not only will more reviews help you sell products, it’ll also increase your credibility as an online retail store. When customers land on your website, they’ll see each of your products has a significant number of reviews.
And last—but certainly not least—reviews are unique, user-generated content. And you can have LOTS of reviews on a single product page. So even though you can’t go overboard on the product descriptions, by collecting reviews, you can still ensure each page on your website has a significant amount of content.
For tips on how to get more reviews, read our article on collecting product reviews.
The Video Approach
It’s no secret product descriptions can be a bit of a joke. Usually, you just need a few hundred words of SEO content. This content isn’t designed to sell a product. In most cases, it’s not even designed to describe a product – it’s just search engine fodder.
Of course, when customers visit your website, they may not be interested in reading the product descriptions anyways. They may already know exactly what they want. However, as we just saw with the Penguin update, Google does NOT like search engine fodder. As a result, if you paid a writer $50 to write 200 product descriptions, your website may be in Google’s crossfires.
A potential solution is to swap product description text with a product description video. Like product reviews, not only does this benefit your search rankings, but also your business.
When you search for terms on Google, you’ve likely noticed videos tend to show up near the top. By adding a high-quality product description video, you distance yourself from competitors who may only offer product description text.
Then, when a customer searches for your product in Google, they’ll see your domain pop up with a video right next to it. Just like the reviews, this is a magnet for potential customers.
Lastly, don’t forget to add social media badges to your website! This is another fantastic opportunity for e-commerce sites to build some real “New SEO” authority. Customers are buying items they want to buy. As a result, they’re very likely to “like” the page of a product they just purchased.
Use this to your advantage – make sure your social media badges are in plain site, where customers can easily click them. Additionally, consider having a “share to Facebook” badge after a customer buys a product.