What’s Hot in Search Marketing?

Last week I gave a pre-conference webinar for the 7th Annual ISA Marketing & Sales Summit. The topic: What’s Hot in Search Marketing? This is a continuation of my annual updates about what’s going on behind the scenes on the search engines and how that affects your rankings, for PPC and natural search.

For those of you who missed it, here’s a quick summary. You can catch the complete, detail-filled update at this year’s Summit, August 15-17, 2012, at the gorgeous Driskill Hotel, Austin, Texas.

What’s Hot in Search Marketing

To start, Google continues to rule the roost with over 66% of all search rankings in the US…and almost that much worldwide. Baidu may be the top search engine in China, but Google is still in the game and they rank at the top for a majority of other countries. So this year the talk is all about Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates.

The Panda update, released in February 2012, focuses on quality content. The goal is to reduce the rank of sites with poor quality content and increase the rank of sites with high quality content. Here are some of the things that will get you in trouble:
– High % of duplicate content
– Low amount of original content
– High # pages with low amount of original content
– Unnatural or heavy-handed SEO

And you need to be checking your site analytics. If you don’t have Google Analytics installed by now, what the heck? It’s incredibly rich software that improves day by day…and it’s free. Just do it already! Then look for the following problems:
– High bounce rate on page or site
– Low visit times on page or site
– Low % of users returning to a site
– Low click-through % from Google SERPs

Google also wants to see you have a presence on the social media sites. So let’s get that program off and running already.

The Penguin update, released in April 2012, is all about linking. If you are part of a link farm or have gotten involved in some other “share links with sites unrelated to your business” scam, your rankings are going to suffer. Google sees links as important votes about the usefulness and popularity of a site. But they have to be earned links. You’re in trouble if you’re using paid text links that use exact match anchor text, comment spam, guest posts on questionable sites, or article marketing sites (the ones that pay anyone to write about your product, whether or not they understand the product or the industry).

Where Do You Start?

First, you need keyword rich content throughout your site. Identify the top keywords, 2-3 per page, and use them naturally in the visible content, then tweak the keyword density to use them another time or two on that page. Finally, use those keywords in meta tags: titles, content headers, URLs, file names. Try to work some keywords into your link text; don’t just link to the phrase “click here.”

Next, you need a search friendly site architecture that’s easy for the search spiders to navigate, crawl, and index. Optimize your site code to make sure the relevant meta tags are in the top third of the page code.

Get linking! The best place to generate solid, relevant links from respected sites is with a PR program. Links to you from trade journals and associations are like gold.

Finally, set up a Google Webmaster Tools account and check their recommendations. They’ll tell you if you’re missing title tags or have duplicates or too short or too long, etc.

You can download the full What’s Hot in Search Marketing presentation here.

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