March 14, 2017 | Robert Campbell
Search Engine Optimization Fundamentals in 2017
Business writers who set about detailing the changes to Search Engine Optimization in the year 2017 could approach the subject the same way they might report on this year’s new model cars, or cell phones or even new shoe designs. Any author reasonably proficient in SEO theory might start by listing fresh data showing recent market trends, and then create a graph to illustrate the information. That visual ‘proof’ could then be leveraged for a bold prediction followed by a long list of evidentiary points. Each item listed would be comprehensively described and presented as a fact to support the bold statement beside the graph in the opening. That’s how everyone else writes about SEO in 20xx
Posts with titles like SEO in 2017 are not likely to hold anything of value to readers with any understanding of how things really work. That’s because like cars, phones and footwear, Search Engine Optimization has thousands of different use-cases, and making sweeping prognostications about the entire industry is not very helpful.
What’s really going on when you see marketing blog posts entitled ‘SEO in 2017’ is… Blogs with blanket titles like that, especially when hosted on a marketing company’s website often betray the presence of an avaricious Business Development Officer or a ‘progressive’ CEO who wants the company to rank higher for SEO-related search terms. They’re hoping there’s someone on staff who can write about the subject intelligently enough and thereby convince readers and potential consumers that the company knows what its doing, and can get robots to index and respect SEO content on site.
What fascinates me is that these posts are often filled with real glimpses on how these firms really do perform SEO tasks, and maybe not the insights their authors hoped to impart. Presentations on SEO in agency blogs with titles like the one above, often betray the organization’s overall strategic approach to the discipline. For example, if they simply cut and paste pictures and text from larger marketing magazines then they expose themselves as replicators, and will likely do the same when making their client’s media. If they write short-copy blog posts which link out to other experts, then readers can expect they’ll probably also outsource their SEO work. If they use large PBNs (Private Blog Networks) tied to a machine-driven auto-publishing and promoting, then run away quick! They could be using robots to do generic blog commenting or worse, writing the actual blog posts. I’ve seen some Toronto SEO companies make their own RoboForm directory listing software, while others have innovated mass social media link and buzz generators. Today, in 2017 automated link-building tactics generally don’t end well, and could result in Google taking a ‘manual action’ against the enterprise.
KPDI is a results-driven organization that focuses on delivering satisfaction by executing well designed web strategies perfectly catered to each client’s needs.
SEO is the first of five different web marketing disciplines that KPDI brings to each account. Search Engine Optimization is at the top of the list because it’s central to ‘being important’ and the practice dovetails into four other sectors: Search Engine Marketing (primarily Google AdWords), Content Marketing (writing blogs and sponsored content), Email Marketing (creating and sending monthly newsletters to subscribers), and Social Media Marketing (publishing, listening and responding to niche communities).
KPDI Search Engine Optimization Strategy
When our clients ask their account managers for help improving their website’s search engine presence, our Toronto area digital marketing agency adopts a holistic approach with three congruent work-spheres.
With an eye on making the client’s website more important to society, and thereby more deserving of higher rankings, we set about executing, 1) On-Page SEO optimization and 2) Content Creation on site and 3) SEO Link-Building in third party magazines, blogs and discussion forums. We create smart usable content with incoming links back to client website pages. The 3rd party media MUST then be validated with persistent social sharing.
1) On-Page SEO optimization at KPDI
On Page SEO ‘tweaking’ (and C.R.O. Conversion Rate Optimization) is where I could perhaps best discuss ‘SEO in 2017’ or more specifically the Rise of Technical Marketing. The science of doing on-page optimization has certainly evolved beyond simply tweaking a website’s Page Titles and Header text. Now the practice requires having some coding experience to manipulate html link attributes, and change .htaccess, robots.txt, metadata, and more… Can you affect site page-load speeds? The good people at KPDI can and often do drill right down into the objects. We have lots of experience doing Split Testing or A/B Testing which means we compare the performance of two web pages consecutively before selecting the best one for each sales period.
Original photography – one point worth mentioning is how KPDI now places a new emphasis on securing original images for client sites in 2017. We see EXIF data on pictures as an emerging SEO ranking factor, and we believe that as modern search algorithms continue to mature they’ll recognize and reward experts’ original pictures over stock photos or worse, stolen photos. Proprietary search engines like those used by Amazon and Etsy may even begin to penalize users that have copied images on their pages, regardless of whether or not they’ve been properly attributed to the original photographer or artist.
AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages. At KPDI we specialize in making Accelerated Mobile Page for dramatically increased user experience on mobile devices. Having webpages use this lightweight html code may not by itself be a ranking factor, but the increased usability will send a strong positive signal to search algorithms that measure user’s satisfaction by the actions they take on-page. Because everything is so much quicker, people can do more and the experience is far more ‘interactive’.
2) Creating Expert Content on site
Creating content on site – technically this is also On-Page SEO, but I did reference it separately above as the second of three initiatives required to improve rankings. The act of writing and publishing and promoting good long copy blog posts (with original pictures) and perfectly focused pages and even composing white papers on niche subjects is a form of Content Marketing. This practice is often called ‘Inbound Marketing’ as coined by HubSpot, and it is usually done in tandem with an active social media marketing campaign in the understanding that, ‘if you build it, they will come’.
The idea is simple – webmasters can make their sites more important (and earn higher rankings) by publishing as much helpful material as possible on any subject that’s directly or indirectly related to the product or service they’re vending in their store. It works well if indeed the website / blog is home to an authentic, articulate and prolific expert; Google always seeks to connect users with the best, most ‘usable’ search experience possible. KPDI services less auspicious clients by connecting them with vociferous writers eager to share their knowledge on blogs and in social media as guest authors or even as in-house subject matter experts depending on our client’s needs.
3. SEO Link building in web magazine articles, influencer blogs and niche discussion forums.
Link building is the hardest task clients can require of a modern SEO professional. The simple question, ‘How will you set about making good incoming links to my web pages?’ is a defining moment. This should be the first question asked by webmasters looking to hire an SEO company. The very best answer is … Our team will apply your marketing dollars toward the creation and distribution of compelling original media that is helpful to society and which showcases your business in the best possible circumstances.
At KPDI we adopt the rules of 3s, when it comes to 3rd party SEO link-building. We make and publish media before, during and after the ‘attraction’. The media can extol coupons, contests or live events, and be published in magazine articles, influencer blogs and discussion forum posts. Our 3 x 3 x 3 grid becomes a ritual work order. Lastly, and most importantly, the media we create is always well shared in social media channels and thereby validated as being real and genuinely helpful. Years ago I may, at this point, have alluded to and elaborated on the P.O.E.M cliché – Paid, Owned, Earned Media as being the construct of a healthy digital marketing diet, but this is just more agency flimflam today.
SEO link-building happens in the body copy (not the comments or under photos) of well shared articles, blogs and discussion forum posts. These are the best most economical places online to make incoming links to client’s pages and posts, and their efficacy is compounded by linking them together as part of a fragmented story ‘spider-web’ where one node connects to the next as people ‘click’ to et the whole story. There’s only one thing better – links in mainstream news media. Earning or more likely, just waking up one morning and discovering that a newspaper or TV news program website has linked to your business homepage or blog is often the equivalent of winning the Google rankings lottery. It conveys real world importance even if it isn’t a good news story.
At KPDI we strive to engineer circumstances that will result in the birth of ‘business stories that tell themselves’ interactively, or as we say memetically.
We inspire and spread strangely infectious ideas that are provocative and cause other writers and influencers and scribes of all stripes to react and rework our narrative syllogisms in their own style. It happens all the time. Think of David Bowie’s ‘Major Tom’ in Space Oddity and how the idea and story of the lonely space man has transcended that 1978 rock song. Major Tom has been used by countless other recording artists and now appears in movies, TV shows and on school children’s lunch pails. Spawning and proliferating transcending memes on behalf of our clients’ websites is the best possible manifestation of the art and science that is Search Engine Optimization.