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Are We Coming to the End of SEO?

Mashable

What are you hoping for when you search for something on Google?

Are you looking for a site that deployed every SEO tip and trick to game their way to the top of the list? Or a site that has relevant, reliable, authoritative content?

Most likely it is the latter, and it seems Google may want that too. If it happens to represent the antithesis of the results of good SEO, that’s just fine with Google. They don’t make a nickel on your optimized site and they are worried that users may become underwhelmed with their search results if the only links appearing above the fold are those not with the best content but with those deploying the most effective examples of chicanery we know as “SEO.”

When Google in 2013 stopped providing data about keyword popularity, this must have served as a shot across the bow of SEO. It signaled that Google wanted to put a damper on SEO because they had determined it was skewing the results in a way unhelpful to its users.

In the “old” days, SEO was a matter of stuffing your metatags with top keywords; then it became more complicated as Google continued to refine its search algorithm. The current state of SEO, in rather sober fashion, calls for “quality content,” no keyword stuffing, longevity of the domain, lack of duplicate content, a well-ordered site-map and other items more esoteric. Really, it’s become more about just building a great site with great (and focused) content. Phony inbound links are not supposed to cut it anymore, although sometimes this can slip by undetected.

SEO is a big industry. According to a site called State of Digital, 863 million websites mention SEO globally and every second 105 people search for SEO links on Google. Most of them seem to be looking for “services” or “companies,” which explains how there came to be so many SEO companies.

SEO is also an industry full of promises. Despite evidence to the contrary, many SEO mavens continue to insist they can fool the Google algorithm into getting your site – no matter what it is – higher in the rankings. That it is easy to see whether it works when you search for your own company makes it an appealing payoff. But the waters of SEO remain murky and it’s difficult to measure success of SEO in any meaningful way (in other words, even if you got to the top, did it improve your business or did you just accumulate a very high bounce rate?).

Now SEO may be going the way of Megalodon, a 100-foot shark rumored to exist but mostly accepted to have gone extinct a million years ago. If it isn’t functionally dead, it’s certainly in the sick-house. Google does not especially want the SEO industry playing games with its rankings, and what Google wants, especially in a case like this, Google gets.

Customers still ask for “top keyword” reports as if they have not read the news about the unavailability of it – perhaps because they believe that if you wish hard enough for a pony on Christmas, one will eventually find its way under the tree.

Continue reading

 

Social Media Weaves Its Way Through Customer Life Process

eMarketer

Social networks facilitate brand discovery, research and connection

Although social media users’ top methods of discovering, researching and keeping in touch with brands vary, they rely heavily on social networks throughout the entire customer life process, according to a September 2013 study by Wildfire.

Investments in the social advertising space are paying off for companies looking to boost awareness of their brand, product or service. The Wildfire report, which was conducted by Forrester Consulting, found that paid ads on social networks are the top method of brand and product discovery for social network users who engage with brands on social media. Forty-one percent of them reported that’s one way they typically become aware of new goods on the market.

The likes of Bing and Google are consistently beneficial to 34% of social network users in the discovery phase, but opinions from friends and followers on social networks are almost just as useful. Thirty-three percent of those surveyed said they typically discover new brands and products by reading and posting messages on social networks.

View charts and the rest of the article

INFOGRAPHIC: 20 MARKETING STATISTICS TO GIVE YOU A HEADSTART IN 2014

The Hub

As we roll into the new year, here are the digital trends that are expected to play a big role in marketing strategies in 2014.

Infographic by WebDAM.

Here are some of the ones that were particularly interesting:

- Videos on landing pages increased conversions by 86%

-  Customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89%

-  67% of B2B marketers consider event marketing the most effective strategy

View the full infographic on Pinterest

Screen Shot 2013 11 08 at 11.41.11 AM INFOGRAPHIC: 20 MARKETING STATISTICS TO GIVE YOU A HEADSTART IN 2014

6 Major Google Changes Reveal the Future of SEO

Search Engine Watch

The last few weeks have been amazing. Google has made some big changes and they are all part of a longer term strategy that has many components.

In short, Google is doing a brilliant job of pushing people away from tactical SEO behavior and toward a more strategic approach. You could argue that “tactical SEO is dead”, but that’s not quite right. And don’t run around saying “SEO is dead” because that is far from the truth, and I might just scream at you.

Instead, let’s take a few steps back and understand the big picture. Here’s a look at the major developments, some of Google’s initiatives driving this change, and the overall impact these changes will have on SEO.

1. ‘(Not Provided)’

Google made the move to make all organic searches secure starting September 23. This means we’ve lost the ability to get keyword data for users arriving to our websites from Google search.

Losing Google keyword data is sad for a number of reasons. This impacts publishers in many ways, including losing a valuable tool for understanding what the intent of customers that come to their site, for conversion optimization, and much more.

For tactical SEO efforts, it just means that keywords data is harder to come by. There are ways to work around this, for now, but it just won’t be quite as simple as it used to be.

Continue reading… 

Survey: 46% Of Marketers Have Content Marketing Strategy, Only 25% Track Social Media Results

Marketing Land

A new survey from content marketing provider Skyword found that nearly half of the respondents polled have a formal content marketing strategy, but only 25 percent are measuring the results of their social media content marketing efforts. Conducted by Unisphere Research, the survey included 217 participants from the readership base of CRM Magazine and EContent Magazine, reflecting a variety of industries and business sizes.

The survey covered a number of content marketing trends, focusing on how organizations produce and distribute content. According to the findings, the number one reason marketers are implementing content marketing initiatives is to engage customers and prospects, with 68 percent of respondents claiming it is their primary goal.

While 46 percent of the survey participants report their organizations have formal content marketing strategies, 37 percent claim they are working on developing content marketing programs.

For the organizations leveraging content marketing programs, 48 percent say their efforts are resulting in engagement with customers and prospects, and 41 percent are seeing an increase in brand awareness.

View charts and the rest of the article… 

Nearly Half of B2Bs Expect a Marketing Budget Bump in 2014

eMarketer

Business-to-business (B2B) marketers are already looking ahead to 2014, and the outlook for the year seems positive. The Sagefrog Marketing Group surveyed US B2B marketing and management professionals from a cross-section of industries in the summer of 2013 and found that 45% of respondents expected to see an increase in budgets in the next year, while 52% thought their outlays would remain the same.

The top four most popular marketing channels for B2Bs were all digital, according to the survey. Websites were the most uniformly employed technique, used by 85% of those polled. Email marketing was second at 72%, followed by social media (67%) and search engine optimization (56%). Just under half of respondents relied on trade shows, while four in 10 used direct marketing.

Continue reading… 

 

Marketers are focusing more on mobile search and display ads

Internet Retailer

Marketers are getting more bullish on mobile ads, particularly with mobile search marketing and banner display ads, according to a new report from marketing research and advisory firm Econsultancy and e-mail marketing services provider Responsys Inc. The survey, conducted earlier this year of 890 businesses, including marketing agencies as well as retailers and other marketers, also found that 60% of companies said they had a strategy in place to integrate mobile marketing into overall marketing efforts. That includes 15% who described that strategy as a strong one, with the remaining 45% describing it as basic.

“There have been significant increases across every type of mobile advertising for the past year,” the report says.

The two areas of largest growth by far are mobile search marketing, which increased to a participation rate of 56% among marketers from 35% a year ago, and mobile display banner ads,

Continue reading… 

10 ways to write content that ranks high on Google

Ragan

Please customers and search engines alike when you apply these tips to your content. Since its arrival on the online scene, search engine optimization (SEO) has put writers in a difficult position. Do you write for people or the search engine algorithms? Thankfully, we no longer have to choose. According to an infographic from ContentVerve.com, Google actually prefers natural-sounding content—as do, obviously, your readers. Besides, what’s the point of landing a high Google rank if your content won’t turn people into customers?

Continue reading…

Maximize Content: Search, Social, Syndication

MediaPost

In today¹s complex digital landscape, a solid content strategy won¹t see success without three core components: search, social and discovery. Many companies focus on just one or two areas without considering how individual tactics can be integrated into one overarching content strategy. It won’t be enough to get your content the exposure it deserves if only one area is emphasized.

Whether it’s time, resources, or budget, investments need to be made in each area, and departments need to be on the same page.

Search Optimization

Since the inception of search engines, Internet geeks have explored innovative ways to optimize their content to be seen in expanding search engine results pages by people who were looking for it.

For a long time the SEO conversation was focused on how to optimize through keywords, backlinks, and crawl-ability. While many of the foundational philosophies are still valid today, most of the tactics have changed with search engines cracking down on shady SEO practices and the introduction of social media. People are still performing searches, but the results are a more complex and the users are smarter.

Continue reading… 

Upgrade Your Content Strategy: 3 Brand Builders

Content Marketing Inst.

The term content marketing has been gaining a lot of attention over the last few years, and rightfully so. Content is a lifeline in today’s social ecosystem, so its rise in popularity makes perfect sense. But content marketing holds little benefit if it isn’t supported with a strong content strategy that enables a brand to tell a very consistent story across the media landscape.

Your content strategy should help draw parallels between what’s important to customers and what your brand stands for; it enables marketing teams to create more relevant content based on what your brand is comfortable talking about (and what it’s not comfortable talking about). And it provides opportunities for your employees, partners, and customer service reps to be a part of your story, too.

If you are ready to upgrade your content strategy — or create one from scratch — here are 3 considerations that will help keep your business in line with current content marketing best practices.

1. Move past the content marketing mainstream

Content marketing is more than just fodder for SEO; it’s more than tweeting out a cool photo in real-time during the Super Bowl Halftime Show, and it’s so much more than an infographic that blesses your site with a multitude of back-links. Content must be emotional, tell a story, and aim to impact consumers’ behavior, attitudes, or perception of your brand. And, while search is certainly important, your brand story encompasses much more than what you write on your blog or website.

Read more…