By relying so much on factors such as keyword density which were exclusively within a webmaster's control, early search engines suffered from abuse and ranking manipulation. To provide better results to their users, search engines had to adapt to ensure their results pages showed the most relevant search results, rather than unrelated pages stuffed with numerous keywords by unscrupulous webmasters. This meant moving away from heavy reliance on term density to a more holistic process for scoring semantic signals. Since the success and popularity of a search engine is determined by its ability to produce the most relevant results to any given search, poor quality or irrelevant search results could lead users to find other search sources. Search engines responded by developing more complex ranking algorithms, taking into account additional factors that were more difficult for webmasters to manipulate. In 2005, an annual conference, AIRWeb, Adversarial Information Retrieval on the Web was created to bring together practitioners and researchers concerned with search engine optimization and related topics.
Before you dig into some of the more technical ways to improve SEO ranking, always remember that writing compelling, high-quality content that attracts interest and compels visitors to share it and link back to it is vital. Good content has the best chance of being viral content, and Google rewards content virality heavily in its rankings algorithm.
It means that every piece of content that leads searchers to you is extending your brand equity. Not only that, you’re creating multiple touch points, so potential customers have every opportunity to discover your business. It takes on average of 6-8 touch points with a brand before someone becomes “sales-ready.” Too many? Well, for some industries, it’s way more. One woman’s car-buying journey took 900 digital touch points spanning three months.
Even if you don’t have a website, you can still make sure customers can find you online by creating listings on sites like DexKnows and Yelp. Just be aware that your customer base will be relying more and more on the internet to learn about your company, and a website will better provide the information they seek, as well as helping you build their confidence in your business.
Make sure you have some good analytics software installed on your website. You will want to know where your traffic is coming from. Is it coming from social media, referrals, search engine queries, or is it direct traffic? It will also help you determine where people are getting lost, or dropping out of the funnel. It can also help you determine what approaches, content, and CTAs are the most effective.
The piece on generating demand for branded queries rather than just product-based ones is particularly interesting here. It sounds as though it'll be more important than ever to have a strong brand in order to succeed (rather than just having a well-optimized site -- and ideally, having the strategic, technical, and creative sides all working together cohesively). Perhaps it's possible that brand exposure through things like answer boxes can still deliver some value too, even if it's difficult to measure, and CTRs are diminished?
The most reliable way to increase search engine traffic is to create great content that your audience is looking for. For example, if you’re a pest control company, you may write a bunch of quality blog posts on getting rid of pests. The idea is to educate your prospects and move them towards buying from you. This is exactly where SEO intersects with content marketing.
Or, you could make up a fun game where the first person posts a picture illustrating their pet’s name. The next person has to guess their pet’s name based on the picture. So, if I had a dog named Spot, I might post a picture of a spot. (I did say to keep it simple!) Of course, it’s easy to guess, but it’s also fun and all you have left to do is sit back and watch the comments roll in.
Remember when you used to rely solely on search engines for traffic? Remember when you worked on SEO and lived and died by your placement in Google? Were you #1? Assured success. Well, okay, maybe not assured. Success only came if the keywords were relevant to your site users, but it was the only real roadmap to generating site traffic and revenue.