The Steps to SEO Success in 2014

Written by +Will Hanke on December 27th, 2013

Christmas is over, the family has headed back home, and the new year is looming ever closer. The last week of the year typically is when we reflect on how the year went, what we did right (and wrong), and what were the biggest successes and failures were.

As you reflect, I want to make sure that I give you a few SEO-related things you can do over this next year that will help your business grow in 2014.  No, I’m not going to bore you with geeky-technical things – these will be easy things that, if you take just a few extra minutes a week to do, you’ll see big results.
Plan for 2014

There’s No More Keyword Ranking

One of the biggest things that happened over the last few years is that the search engines have slowly stopped relying simply on keywords to determine who should be at the top of a certain search result.  The first inkling to this shift in how websites were ranked was the freshness update – an update that took into account how long the content has been online, and if there is fresher content available elsewhere.

Most reputable SEO companies aren’t providing nor relying on keyword ranking reports as their main justification method (although some still are – avoid them).  I’m not saying you shouldn’t run these reports from time to time, to get a general idea of how your rankings are going, but to solely rely on them is nuts and a misrepresentation of your online efforts and authority.

Speaking of Reports…

I do think there are a few reports you should run, at least monthly, to see how your SEO efforts are playing out.  If you have an ecommerce site, you’ll definitely want to know what your conversion rate is, overall and per product category at a minimum.  If you don’t have an ecommerce site, you can still see how your website performs by setting up Goals in Analytics – certain actions that could be considered a conversion. For example, every time someone fills out a contact form or clicks through to a certain page – count how many times that happens and try to increase it as the year progresses.

I also recommend running an analytics report each month that compares the previous year during the same time frame.  Its good to see where your efforts are (or aren’t) paying off.

Lastly, I recommend a monthly report that shows your efforts across various campaigns. If you’re doing ads on other websites, track them and see how they’re performing. Trim out the ones that are sucking your budget dry with no ROI.

Call Tracking

If you aren’t using call tracking, I recommend you consider it.  Knowing who is calling you, how they found you, and how your sales team handles the calls are just a few things you can learn from getting a call tracking number.  If you run ads on the Yellow Pages, billboards or flyers, getting a special tracking number can help you know if the money is well spent or wasted.

Some call tracking services can even be tied to your Analytics, so you can go back and visually see the steps a visitor took prior to picking up the phone to call you.  This is another report you should review monthly.  And if you record the calls that come in, I recommend you, or someone in your office review them each month – both for consistency as well as to understand your customers questions, complaints and overall experience with your brand.  (You can find a lot of good blog material in those phone calls).

Create

2014 is going to be the year of content marketing. While years past have been pushing things in that direction, I really believe that if you are not creating something on a regular basis, you may as well not have a website.

In the past I’ve pushed my clients to write blogs, at least once a week.  While I definitely think that’s still a great idea, I’ve also come to understand that any sort of content, created on a regular basis, is a good thing.  If you just can’t seem to pen out a blog, but you love making how-to videos, then by all means go for it. Prefer to do webinars, or videotape your presentations? Do it.  Into podcasting or audio interviews? Knock it out.

If you want to really be aggressive, build a few different types of content.  Remember – the more ways there are for people to consume your content (in the format they prefer), the more reach you’ll have in 2014.

In 2014, I’m continuing my meetups as well.  While these classes will not directly affect my SEO, the fact that more people are interacting with my brand will only increase my overall reach, and the people that take those classes will most likely bleed over into my various online efforts. If you like to teach, consider creating a meetup that teaches people about your industry (in a non-salesy kind of way).

Please Don’t Say ‘Social Media’

Oops – I did.  And I did for a reason.  Social media is not going away – and those that are participating correctly will reap the benefits.

Just like creating content, I believe that you should definitely choose some sort of social media platform that:

  • you’re comfortable with
  • your target audience is on
  • you have time to dedicate to

I’m no longer a fan of the ‘schedule it and forget it’ social media offers that are out there.   Especially the ‘forget it’ part. The true winners in social media are those that can respond quickly to their potential clients as well as become unique and authentic voices in their industry.

Don’t think that because Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Vine are the most popular that you should be on them all.  A poorly-done effort on all platforms is much worse than a well-run campaign on just one.  Pick one that suits the criteria above and go for it.  Or find a good class or social media company that can help you.

Cross Pollinate

The rise of Google Publisher Markup has reinforced the idea of publishing content in more than just one place, that building up your brand can be done across various websites, and that real humans are going to have more authority than generic script-run websites.  This means that your offline networking efforts have the potential to increase your online visibility - if leveraged correctly.

Guest blogging – the generic term used for putting your content on other websites – is more popular than ever.  Tie that together with Authorship markup and you’ve got a great 1-2 punch that will give your brand more visibility and authority.

It’s tricky, though. Simply writing content and pushing it out to a crappy or low-value website isn’t good enough.  You’re better off building strategic relationships with related websites that matter.  For instance, a music DJ business should write an article on the Top Ten Requested Father/Bride Dance Songs of 2013 and get it posted on a major bridal site.  Even without a link back to the DJ service, the authorship markup will give that DJ company a definite advantage.

Blatent Self-Promotion – If you have a WordPress site and you haven’t set up your Google Authorship yet, consider purchasing my best-selling ebook on Amazon that will take you step-by-step through the process.

Mark Up Your TO DO List

It is my hope that in 2014 you are able to put some (or all) of these things into play.  Take time at the closing of this year to think about which things you really do have a little time for, and schedule that time out.  You’ll be rewarded in 2014, I promise.

About 

Will Hanke is the Chief Search Marketing Strategist at Red Canoe Media, a top St. Louis Search Marketing & SEO firm. In addition to helping some of the city's most recognizable brands with their online marketing strategy, Will also is an Amazon bestselling author, speaker and teacher.

 

2 Comments so far ↓

  1. I’ve seen SEO companies use the trackable phone number for online efforts. When a client leaves the company they are stuck with the task of going back to correct the NAP or having to maintain a phone number they don’t want. It might be a good way for the SEO company to quantify their efforts but I think it’s a bad idea for businesses in the long run.

  2. Will Hanke says:

    Catherine, I think that’s just poor service on part of the SEO company. We have an entire list of things that we do upon client exit, including helping them decide if they want to keep the number or not. If not, we replace it on their website with their direct line.

    As for NAP entries, you should never use a call tracking number in your Google Places, etc accounts anyway. The call tracking number is ONLY for the website.

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