For anyone new to the Internet, especially on a business basis, web marketing can seem like a daunting prospect. There is good reason for that, the learning curve is steep and includes developing a multitude of new skills which need to be adapted as required to meet ever changing rules and conditions.
Web marketing involves both search engine optimization and social media engagement, a segment of Internet marketing that is growing at an exponential rate and which has come to the forefront of web marketing.
There was a time when as long as you had a good back linking strategy, as part of your SEO campaign, that would be enough to get you on the first page of search results; particularly when combined with a few well chosen keyword terms.
There is no doubt that building links is still very important but, since the advent of the Google Penguin algorithm changes, how and where you get your links has become critical to whether your website or blog will be successful.
With respect to keywords, the emphasis has very much moved away from short exact-match keywords and is now focused much more on the entire inquiry. This change has been rung in through the introduction of Google’s ‘Hummingbird’ algorithm update. Hummingbird strives to understand the exact meaning of the inquiry so that results which are more likely to answer the inquiry made are returned in SERPS. The impact on webmasters with regard to hummingbird is that total content is more closely examined and over-optimization of exact-match keywords in the content or external links to a page is likely to be penalized.
In addition to the Google Penguin & hummingbird changes, the other very well known algorithm change came in the guise of Google Panda. The focus of the attack in this case was on poor quality sites with shallow or duplicated content. So now it is imperitive to focus on ensuring that a site’s content is both high quality and unique. Not that this wasn’t always the case, it is just that now you are no longer likely to get away with pushing out poor quality content.
That leads nicely into one of the reasons why social media marketing has come to the fore. It is with respect to how content is perceived in the world of social media….. it provides a human perspective on what is actually thought about the content a site produces. The question of trust arises, do you trust the author of the article for example, have they produced good quality content before and has it proved to be of value or even accurate?
A human audience is very capable of sifting the wheat from the chaff and how they respond to the content placed in front of them will either help an author build authority or conversely it can plunge them into obscurity. The reason why is because the search engines are now looking at the data that comes from social media sites, often referred to as social signals, and includes those signals in their overall evaluation of the authority a site carries.
This gives you a little bit of an insight into how SEO and social media are critical for gaining traffic to a website. Of course there will always be grey areas and subjective aspects to everything associated with SEO and social media.
You could argue that social media marketing has just become the new way to manipulate search engine results. After all a company that spends a lot of time and or money seeking likes and shares of their content could be likened to a company paying for links or requesting multiple reciprocal links. The overall objective after all is to try and increase author and consequently page authority.
Some social media marketing doesn’t involve the search engines at all, they are an alternative to seeking traffic through search engines. This type of marketing relies more on the size of the membership of a social media site and the natural traffic it gets as a result. Adverts can be based on age, interests, locations, gender and so on. With sites as large as Facebook, a billion+ subscribers, there is a huge potential for reaching specific target markets and this is the main reason why the company was able to be floated on the stock market at such a high value.
There are those that would say it is the commercial aspects of companies like Google and Facebook that have driven them down the routes they have taken. Have Google really introduced their changes for the good of the public, their users and visitors or to force the independent webmasters out of business unless they pay for their search result positions. Likewise are Facebook limiting impressions on their newsfeeds to force companies down the Facebook advert route, which of course has to be paid for?
There will be people that know the answers to those questions, but they are unlikely to share their knowledge on the subject. Not that there is much that could be done about it even if confirmation was forthcoming. All that can be done is to abide by the rules, follow good practice and continue to work towards the success of your businesses using techniques and strategies known to work.
Knowledge, as they say, is power. So make sure you know the DOs & DON’Ts of Web Marketing and SEO.