Monday, 4 February 2013

SEO and content marketing advice for 2013 and beyond

The below tweet is from Oreo during the Superbowl last night. It was sent as a blackout canvassed the stadium and brought the game to a halt prompting excited fans to turn to their social networks to discuss the experience. This is what they saw.

This will become more relevant towards the end of the article, but for now think about the reaction people had to this and what they did after.

Google's latest string of updates has made things ever more difficult for those SEOs that rely on black hat techniques of trying to cheat their way to a higher ranking. This is good. Google's engine is there to provide users (you and I) with a rapid response yielding the most accurate, relevant and helpful answers to queries. This is why Google got so popular and this is why they must continue to fight spam backlinkers that will pull the quality of search results down.

A quick paragraph on how Google works

Google's PageRank algorithm takes into account numerous factors to determine where a website ranks for a query. For e.g. if you Google "loans" the results that come up will be based on (keeping things simple here) three factors:
  1. The content on the website - e.g. how loans are explained, types of loans, advice on loans etc
  2. The amount of sites that link to that website
  3. The quality of the sites that link to that website - e.g. how related and trusted the linking sites are
The overarching idea was a website's relevance could be determined by a) content and b) its popularity as measured by inbound links. Quite simply the more sites that link to a website (point 2), the more popular that site is. This spawned an era of SEOs (search engine optimisers) that attempted and succeeded (up till now) in pushing their sites higher by fooling Google into thinking their site was more popular than it actually was.

What's new with Google's approach in 2013?

Google's Penguin update (an improved version of PageRank) has helped zap those SEOs who have been using these black hat techniques; strategies that Google would consider to be against the best wishes of its users. The search engine now relies less on the quantity of links into a website for popularity and more on the quality of the sites linking to it. It also takes into account the social media popularity of websites on social networks. This means one thing: focus more on building a website with helpful content that people will enjoy reading and be happy to share (via social networks) with their friends.

There is a fantastic blog post on Forbes by Ken Krogue about this in more detail, it is well worth a read. Consider the comments from SEOs and marketers far and wide. The article caused quite a stir.

3 tips on how to approach and befriend the more savvy Google

1. Make helping people your number one priority

This is what Google will love you for. If people share your site content it will earn natural and high quality links, exactly what Google are valuing more than ever. Ensure your content helps people achieve what they are looking for. If your site is an ecommerce site selling tennis equipment, include as much helpful content around the types, brands and differences between tennis balls as you can. Why is one racket better than the other? What shoes does Djokovic wear? How do Nike Dri-Fit shirts actually work, and are they any good? BUT DO NOT BE SPAMMY! Every piece of content on your site must have a purpose for the consumer. Pages and pages of junk are not helpful and will only bite you in the backside as Google learns that you're trying to cheat it. Nobody likes a cheat.

2. Ensure your website is crawler friendly

Basic SEO fundamentals are a must. Ensuring relevant keywords you want to rank for are included in content in a user-friendly way. The layout of the site, the use of links within the site, the correct use of page titles and meta descriptions. SEOmoz give a good SEO overview on this.

3. Create awesome, shareable pieces of content 

This is different to point 1 in the sense that these are your super-charged, ideal for sharing, golden nuggets of content. In reality you might only get a few of these a year. Refer back to the top of the article; this was one of those moments for Oreo. They reacted super-fast to an event that everyone at the time was talking about. They executed it flawlessly with an image that spoke wonders about their brand and showcased their delicious cookie. It was a stroke of genius and as of the last count the tweet has been retweeted over 15k times. Google's algorithm eats all this social media goodness up and notices the Twitter account links to Oreo's website. The result; Oreo's website becomes a more popular, trustworthy site and its ranking for relative keywords on Google strengthens. In other words, Oreo wins.


The new Google has changed the SEO industry for good. Instead of focusing on the sheer volume of sites linking in, website owners must now put the focus back on the end user. Google wants to provide the most relevant, user friendly results possible. Stay ahead by hosting helpful, shareable content and sticking to basic onsite SEO and your rankings will look after themselves...for good.


Thanks for reading. Please feel free to follow me on Twitter to discuss SEO, content marketing, social media and online PR in more depth.

1 comment:

  1. Some great examples on an eConsultancy post. Some are offline so the online aspect might not be the primary goal, however they all managed to get online eventually. BMW and Audi example is brilliant!