SEO Will Never, Ever, Ever, Ever, Ever, Ever, Ever Die!

I’ll tell ya what, I am sick and tired of hearing SEO is dead, or SEO is dying. Today, I was following a thread on OpenForum where a business owner was discussing this very topic and it just made my angry… hence here’s my post about it :)

My definition of SEO is very simple, SEO is the process of optimizing a web page to become more relevant for keyword themes or topics and gain more visibility in the search engines. This includes keyword research, competitive analysis, technical SEO analysis, and web page optimization for both the search engines as well as users. That’s it… that is SEO and I don’t see how that will ever die.

Now, you’re probably thinking, what about link building? Social sharing? Those are a part of SEO. I disagree. Link building, social sharing, content promotion, etc are all a part of website promotion, which has absolutely nothing to do with the physical optimization of a web page for users and the search engines. Yes, it supports your SEO, however, it, in and of itself, is not SEO. Sorry to burst your bubble.

So here you go… I’ll leave you with this image from Moz… the perfectly optimized web page. Study this, know it like the back of your hand, and execute this on every page of your website. That my friends is SEO. You’re welcome!

optimized web page

Stop Wasting Time & Energy On Problems & Start Putting It Towards The Solutions

think big and kick ass in business and in lifeI’m listening to a new book, well, not a new book, but new to me called Think Big and Kick Ass In Business And Life by Donald Trump. Last night while driving home from the office he said something that made me think deeply about how I approach problems and solutions and realized that I’ve been doing it all wrong.

He said something along the lines of “can you imagine what you might accomplish if you stop wasting time focusing on the problem and instead putting it toward the solution”. My mind was blown and what’s sad is that it was blown by such a simple concept!

I think back to some of the problems I’ve faced over the last month… the biggest, we need to grow revenue as quickly as possible across all three companies. What does the average person do when they hear that? They begin strategizing and writing down every way they can grow revenue, meeting together to discuss, going back to the drawing board, meeting together again, etc. Before you know it, you’ve sunk countless hours into strategizing without any action. Freaking A!

Let’s take another recent problem… oh no, my keyword data is gone from analytics! I can’t tell you how many hours I was consumed with this issue let alone everyone else in the digital marketing space. I saw hundreds of blog posts being written about it and how it is such a bad thing. I saw thousands of tweets about it as well. Now that I think about it, it’s actually quite disgusting how much time and effort went into focusing on the problem at hand instead of the solution. Our solution of course is to focus on what we can impact positively and ensure we can track conversions across traffic sources (organic, paid, social, referral, etc).

I’ll tell ya what, even though Donald Trump comes off as a you know what, he’s a smart dude and if this is the only thing I get out of his book, then it was worth the eight hours of listen time because starting yesterday, I will approach problems and solutions far differently.

Why An SEO Audit Is An Extremely WISE Investment For All Companies

I’m always amazed by the growing number of “SEO Experts” out there… I mean, hey, if you’ve been doing SEO for more than six months, your a friggin guru!

Because being an SEO is the cool thing to do for a profession and there’s a plethora of information about the trade online (good and bad) it’s hard to know if what you/your team/your agency is reading and executing on your site is going to provide sustainable results for years to come. Because of this, third party SEO audits are becoming a very popular thing and are an extremely wise investment for just about any company.

Let’s talk about the different situations you might be in and how an SEO audit can help you tackle your marketing initiatives and accomplish your goals.

You’re Just Getting Started With SEO

If you are just getting started with SEO and are serious about investing your time and money into a campaign, an SEO audit can give you a good idea if your site is in good shape from a search engine stand point or if you are already in some trouble. A good website audit can help you uncover technical issues that could make it hard for the search engines to crawl and index your website and so forth. An audit can also tell you what is working for you and shouldn’t be changed.

You’ve Been Outsourcing Your SEO For While

This is probably one of the biggest reasons companies want an SEO audit. Let’s face it, there are a lot of CRAPPY SEO companies out there and they can hose you over in a hurry. I always recommend to anyone outsourcing their SEO to have a third party perform a site audit at least once per year. This keeps the SEO company honest and alerts the client of any foul practice or low quality SEO that could hurt them in the long run.

You’re Thinking About Bringing SEO In House

Very similar to the one above, if you’ve been outsourcing your SEO and are thinking about bringing it in house, you will definitely want a third party to perform an SEO audit. This will give your in house team a road map of areas that need your immediate attention and strategies and tactics that haven’t been working so well for them in the past.

You’ve Been Doing SEO In House For Awhile

If you’ve been doing SEO in house for awhile and your team hasn’t had much turnover, it’s also wise to perform a site audit… probably yearly. Yes, your team is most likely reading and staying up to date with the latest and greatest strategies being spewed by thought leaders, but are they doing exactly what your business needs for sustainable results? You’ll never know unless you get a website audit.

You’re Not Happy With Your Website’s Current Performance

Another reason to get a search engine optimization audit is because you are unhappy with your current website’s performance. If you’re working your tail off and things don’t seem to be improving, a site audit can quickly uncover the root cause and provide insight into what you can do to boost your visibility in the search engines.

You’ve Been Hit By An Algorithm Update

Um… fairly obvious, but if your website has been hit by an algorithm update, you should consider a website audit. Not only will an audit help you identify what algorithm update affected your negatively, but what that algo update targeted and what steps need to be taken to fix it.

You Need An Advocate To Sell SEO Changes Internally

Believe it or not, a lot of companies have a hard time selling SEO to executives as well as site changes to IT. This was the case when I worked with Dell. If you need an outside “advocate” to come in and help sell your strategy and changes, a site audit is a fantastic idea!

I’ve also seen companies hire a consultant to perform site audit just to receive confirmation that your recommendations have legs and will provide value to the company.

You Want To Measure Your SEO Progress

Lastly, if you want to measure the progress of your SEO efforts, you might want to consider an SEO website audit. For my clients, I try and perform website audits on a monthly basis, just to make sure we are on the right track and making progress.

In closing, if a search engine optimization site audit isn’t in your plans for 2013 or 2014, I highly recommend you to consider one, regardless of whether you work at a large or small organization. 9/10 times, an audit will always help your SEO campaign, will open your eyes to new ideas or methodologies, and will validate your strategy when selling your IT or management team.

Time Flies and It BLOWS!!!

disneyland at halloweenProbably a short post today, but this past week we were at Disneyland with our two kids and I was reminded of how fast time flies… and it sucks… big time!

The last time we were at Disneyland, Olivia was three and Kade was six months old. Olivia was in heaven! She was totally into all of the Princesses and we spent hours hunting them down for signatures and pictures. This time, she is almost six and she wanted absolutely nothing to do with the Princesses. All she wanted to do was ride the big rides over and over again. Her favorite rides are the Tower of Terror and Space Mountain. While standing in line for the Tower of Terror I looked at her and I got really sad. She is old… and it happened over night.

I guess the reason I’m writing this is because while looking at her it reminded me of how short life is and how important it is to spend time with my kids while they are young, because it won’t be long till they want nothing to do with me :)

Since returning home, I’ve started shelving my phone and leaving my laptop in my bag until they are asleep. I want to give them my full, undivided attention and it has been amazing. I also try and leave work around 4:30 (of course I go into the office super early and work late into the night after the kids are asleep) each day to get home and see them. Some might say I’m crazy… some might say if you don’t spend 10-12 hours a day in the office, you aren’t a good employee, let alone a leader, but I disagree.

I believe that you have to have a good work/personal life balance in order to be a good employee and a good leader and just because this is the way I work, doesn’t mean I get any less done or my work/clients suffer. I would say the opposite. I get more done because I am focused, efficient, and productive during the hours I’m in the office. It works great! You should try it sometime :)

Well, I don’t have much else to say other than if you are a working mom or dad, take enough time to spend with your family before you blink and they are old and don’t like you.

The Best of The Best Digital Marketing Books

books460So, I am a firm believer that the foundational principles of online marketing NEVER, EVER change. Yes, algorithms change, yes, tactics change, but the foundational strategies never die. Because of this, I read a lot of marketing books… well, maybe not read, but I listen to them to and from the office each day as my commute is around 45 minutes each way.

About 90% of what I hear is nothing new to me, but a lot of it brings back ideas of strategies and tactics I may have forgotten about or pushed aside for new and exciting ones. This is very helpful for me when putting together campaigns for my clients as sometimes you have to go back to the basics to build a solid foundation.

Well, enough of that… in my post today, I wanted to run through the best digital marketing books that I’ve read over the last few years that I highly recommend to anyone currently employed as a digital marketer or anyone looking to get into the industry.

Optimize by Lee Odden

The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott

Content Strategy For The Web by Kristina Halvorsen & Melissa Rach

The Ultimate Guide To Link Building by Garrett French & Eric Ward

Search Engine Optimization Secrets by Danny Dover

Accelerate by Arnie Kuenn

Unmarketing by Scott Stratton

Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash

If you have any other marketing books you’d recommend, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

What’s Marketing Really About???

marketingHere’s an interesting post to follow up my last… I’m listening to David Meerman Scott‘s book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR and he made a very intriguing statement… marketing is not about your agency winning awards, it’s about your business winning customers… or something along those lines :)

When I worked for SEO.com, we won all sorts of awards. We were on the Inc. 500 and we won all sorts of local awards for fastest growing company in Utah, etc. It was fun, it was exciting, it was something we wanted to brag about… a lot! It was so fun and exciting, that’s all I’ve wanted for my new company… awards, awards, and more awards!

Well, that’s until this afternoon when I had a huge reality check (thanks Mr. Scott). Marketing isn’t about us winning awards and being awesome… it’s about our clients winning. It’s about our clients growing their businesses. It’s about them winning the big awards. Freaking A, right?

It will still be cool if and when we win some awards, but this honestly changed my perspective of why I do what I do each and every day and that’s a blessing in and of itself.

Image via JeffBullas.com

The Inc. 500

inc 500

So, I was browsing the Inc 500 tonight and noticed that there were three specific companies on the list last year that failed to make it this year and it got me thinking… what makes an Inc. 500 company? Sure, there’s the obvious ones, companies with huge margins and a rockstar marketing and sales force, companies who innovate like crazy, companies who solve the specific needs of a very specific niche, etc.

What else? Well, the people do. Your front line employees, your middle management, many of your upper management, etc. Not just people though, people who are bought into the company mission, vision, values, and goals. People who feel respected each and every day. People who are driven by crazy success. People who are given credit for the hard work they do each and every day. People who trust in company leaders to make the right decisions and do the right thing, every time and in every situation. People who aren’t scared of the owner or individuals on the executive team and their next asinine, dictating moves. And the list can go on and on.

I’ve been reading Good to Great and it is sad what one person can do to a company. In as little as a few years, one arrogant, egotistical person can corrupt an organization and bring it to its knees. Honestly, reading this book and pondering after reading through each company on the Inc. 500 list this year makes me want to be a different kind of leader with my new company. It makes me want to work harder each and every day to develop our people and to give them credit for their work and their successes. It makes me want to lose myself and not worry what everyone outside of the organization thinks of me, as long as our people trust and believe in the direction we are taking things.

I’ll tell you one thing, I’m excited for the coming years and I’m extremely excited to see where our people take our company.

SEO Best Practices – Cyber Symposium 2012 Presentation

Last Friday I was given the opportunity to speak to a group of legal professionals at a cyber conference held at Thanksgiving Point. It was a lot of fun and I got to meet a lot of really cool and really smart lawyers. I was thinking today that I don’t post enough on this site since the majority of my blogging happens over on the SEO.com blog, so I’d put together a quick post outlining what I spoke about and embed my slide deck.

At the conference, I spoke about two main topics… gaining visibility in the traditional search engine results pages and gaining visibility in the localized search engine results pages.

Traditional SEO

There are four components to traditional SEO, they are as follows: Site Architecture, Content, Links, and Social.

Site Architecture

Having a properly structured website is incredibly important to help the search engines efficiently crawl each page of your website and associate those pages with a set of keywords. To improve your crawlability, you should be cautious when setting up your robots.txt file and meta robots tags. You also should have a well throughout and laid out site hierarchy. You should have both XML and HTML sitemaps and internal links.

Content

Content is what drives SEO. You can have a solid site structure, back links, and social shares, but without content, it isn’t going to matter a whole lot. When building out your content, make sure it has a purpose. Who is the content for? Is it to generate leads (targeting prospects)? Is it to engage promoters to help build links or generate shares? Is it for both?

You also need to strategically place keywords in your content so the search engines can know what your pages are about. These should live in your title tags, headings, and content.

Links

In most cases, links are votes for your website. He who has the most links wins… well, they used to, or maybe they still do :)

There are three different types of link building, first, link attraction, second, link creation, and third link requests. Each has their strength and their place in an SEO campaign, so please make sure to execute the proper link building types based on a proper gap analysis.

Social

Social shares are also votes for your website which is why is is critical that you build social sharing right into your business, including your website. You need to make it STUPID SIMPLE for your visitors to share your content across the most popular social networks.

You should also use social to build relationships with other human beings. Build real friendships, talk to them about other things than business. Share their content and in turn, they will share yours.

Local SEO

There are also four components to a localized SEO effort, they are as follows: Maps Setup & Optimization, NAP, Citations, and Supporting Website Content.

Maps Setup & Optimization

The first component to your local SEO efforts is making sure that your Google+ Local (Google Maps) listing and Bing Maps listing are set up, optimized, and fully fleshed out.

NAP

When setting up your maps, building citations, and generating supporting website content, you want to make sure your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) are all consistent. 123 N. vs 123 North are looked at differently and could negatively impact your local efforts.

Citations

Just like links are votes for websites in traditional SEO, citations are votes for maps pages. Citations are any external reference to your business that includes your business name, address, and phone number. These can be social profiles like those on Yelp and Foursquare, blog posts, or business directories.

Supporting Website Content

The last component of localized SEO is making sure you have supporting content on your website. If you run a law office in Orem, UT and one in Salt Lake, UT, you need to have a webpage dedicated to each of the locations that include information about that location (don’t forget your NAP).

Well, that’s my quick 700 word summary of my presentation. You can view my slide deck below. Please feel free to leave any questions or comments you may have in the section below.

We’re Giving Away Small Business SEO Services!

Over the last five years, SEO.com has been primarily focused on acquiring and servicing enterprise level clients. Some of the bigger clients we currently work with include Dell.com, Hotels.com, Mrs. Fields, and DR Horton.

Toward the end of 2011, we started entertaining the idea of building a service that was tailored specifically to small and medium businesses and in January of this year, we brought in Director of SEO, Bryan Phelps (formerly at Orange Soda) and launched it!

So I ask the question, if you are a small or medium sized business, what would it mean to your business to show up here?

organic seo rankings

How about here?

maps seo rankings

For most businesses, showing up in either of these places means a ton more revenue added to their bottom line year-over-year.

With the launch of our small and medium business SEO packages, we’ve decided to celebrate small businesses and give away six months of services to a few lucky ones.

If you’d like to participate, then please visit the giveaway page by clicking here.

Speaking At UVU On White Hat & Black Hat SEO

For those based here in Utah and are interested in SEO, Ash Buckles and I are going to be speaking at UVU on Thursday @ 11:30 am discussing white hat and black hat SEO. This mini-conference is being hosted by Utah Valley University’s Center for the Study of Ethics and its College of Technology & Computing, you can read the press release here.

Ash will be the keynote speaker and I will be on an expert panel that includes Arlen Card, a UVU professor in digital media; Aaron Willis, a UVU professor in information systems and technology; and Elaine Englehardt, a UVU distinguished professor of ethics.

We are both very excited to get out and address the community on this particular topic. If you are interested in coming, the event is free of charge and will be happening at the UVU Library’s fourth-floor Lakeview room.