Today’s hot topic is how SEO is shifting from being a back-office operation of applying formulas to a website, blog, or other block of online text to a very social one based on online PR. To get an idea of what we’re talking about, take a look at Rand Fiskin’s five minute video, Anchor Text is Dying And Will Be Replaced By Co-citation.
The Old Ways Are Dying
In the fast-moving world of SEO, anchor text keywords were the traditional way that we told Google what we were talking about. If you were trying to make your site Jones Real Estate high ranking for “real estate in Louisville, KY,” you might hyperlink those words to a page in your website. You would also add a title tag that would say, in essence, “Hey, Google, this article is about buying and selling homes in the Lou, where Realtor® Mary Jones is an expert.” Google, which ranks pages based on a secret algorithm, would consider links like that as the main factor in ranking the page. As of April 2012, Google changed the rules so anchor text linking is now less important.
Building Associations And Reputation
Rand Fishkin talks about this concept in his video, where he mentions how Google now picks up associations that web users make, so it can recognize that Consumer Reports ranks cell phones and ThomasNet is an online Directory of Manufacturers. A specific article about these topics does not have to directly link to the company website page to build the association between them and the topic, because many other articles have directly made this connection.
You could say that making these associations is not a big reach for Google, as both Consumer Reports and ThomasNet are well-known in their fields. What hope is there for Mary Jones and her small Louisville real estate company?
Ranking with Google post Penguin still requires plenty of behind-the-scenes work to make Ms. Jones a household word in the Google world. No one who builds a keyword map, researches, writes, or builds and maintains a website will be taking a vacation from SEO any time soon.
So what does all this mean for your current and future online PR and SEO strategy?
Content Is King
The most important thing today is to write GREAT content that is truly useful to your customers. Like our example above, Google recognizes associations, so it’s no longer about writing content using strategically placed keywords. When you consistently create great content that uses keywords and related search phrases naturally, your ranking will naturally go up.
Linking Is Natural
Do a little research and you will find out that old-fashioned anchor text links and building links is over, but it’s still important to tie you and your company with the general subject and with the specific keyword.
Once again, it’s important to do this in a natural way, by linking to your sites, YouTube, and social sites, so that your online reputation will grow organically.
Influencing High Value Sites Vs. Reciprocal Links
The jury is still out as to the future of reciprocal links, but we know that they are less important than in the past. Now is the time to cast your nets deeper and wider to find high value related sites to link to, and even select sites where you can contribute content and be seen as an expert in your industry.
Become An Expert
When it comes to building your website, you want to be seen as a knowledgeable and competent industry leader. An attractive, easy to navigate, well-written site will become an important base for your business. Saying over and over that you are the expert won’t cut it, but by giving examples, often backed by social media engagement and reputable 3rd party sources, you slowly build your reputation.
Know Your Online Reputation
While this may be the last thing on our list, this is actually one of the first places you should start. It’s important to have a good snapshot of your company’s online presence before you engage in an online PR or SEO strategy. Some questions to ask yourself:
- How many times is my business name mentioned online?
- What’s my online reputation?
- How many people read, comment, and follow my blog?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, consider running some analytics to figure it out. You might be surprised by what you find!