Just wanted to share my insights about this awesome post about the future of SEO and the Search Engine Marketing industry as whole. Truly is one of the best posts I’ve seen in a while and really focuses on the key concept of ‘Search Marketing Integration’ (SMI), which is something I’ve been talking and preaching to clients for a couple years now. It’s not enough to just engage in a single marketing strategy like SEO or PPC, or have a rockstar content strategy without any social media efforts to supplement that. All these efforts need to be integrated across all marketing efforts. The same way a site that is super SEO friendly and optimized but looks like garbage won’t succeed, or vice versa a killer website with awful SEO won’t ever get found, applies to taking an integrated approach to succeed in ‘the future or search marketing’ as a whole.
Nowadays, the key is to have an integrated and socially engaging website that is properly optimized for the search engines while always ensuring usability and promoting social sharing across all the most popular platforms. The days of hammering away on links on exact match keyword anchor texts are long behind us, but that doesn’t mean that link building is dead. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Link building and SEO are still extremely important but you need to focus more on promoting the brand and quality content as opposed to simply trying to acquire high PR links (like the old days). But that’s still not enough, you need to be adding quality content (not just blogposts either but videos, white papers, infographics, etc. etc) and then taking the next step to socialize that content. The higher the content quality, the better chance you then have of getting backlinks from niche relevant websites linking to your site.
People keep asking me if SEO and links are dead to which I reply, “The industry has been saying that since before I even got into the industry over 5 years ago….). Always remember that Google and the search engines don’t profit from SEO, they only profit from paid ads…… What I’ve noticed over the years is that the old spammy techniques of link building are certainly dead – for example buying sitewide sidebar links with an exact match keyword anchor text off of high PR sites with poor content and a non-existent social media presence. Since the old, cheap and easy/dirty techniques of SEO are long behind us, it’s created a market for high quality link building services, for example producing quality content and finding authoritative niche relevant bloggers that understand the importance of having a socially engaging website.
The real change for me though hasn’t so much been the change in link building techniques, but the shift away from linking using exact match anchor texts that has now been replaced by linking promoting the brand or URL of a website. So even though you want to rank for ‘keyword 1′ you should really focus on building links for your brand and URL, and then make sure ‘keyword 1′ is optimized on your homepage or landing page. Over time as you link to this page with brand/URL/phrase match/other types of link building the keyword will rank better for ‘keyword 1′, BUT if you don’t employ proper anchor text variation and link variation (been saying this for 5 years now people!) and only link out using ‘keyword 1′ there is a very good chance you will actually do more harm than good and actually end up ranking worse for that keyword because it doesn’t look natural to the search engines and it’s obvious that you are trying to manipulate the search engines.
When reporting to clients I break it down into five different ‘anchor text’ classifications:
- Exact Keyword: The anchor text of the link is for an exact targeted keyword.
- Branded: The anchor text of the link mentions the brand.
- Phrase Keyword: The anchor text of the link is for a phrase keyword match, meaning the exact keyword is mentioned in more of a sentence styled (or phrase) anchor text.
- URL: The anchor text of the link mentions the URL (site.com, www.site.com, http://www.site.com).
- Other: The anchor text of the link doesn’t mention any keywords, Brand or URL. These are natural anchor texts e.g. ‘click here’, ‘visit us online’, ‘read more’, etc.
The key concept I’ve been advocating for years now is to employ a natural variance of the different anchor texts and really focus holistically on promoting the brand and the URL.
So BE SMART when linking and always think like a marketer and ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this anchor text make sense?
- Does it look natural?
- Does it adhere to current link building guidelines?
- Will it adhere to future link building guidelines?
- Does it promote my site or service in a manner that I can be proud of?