Are you considering Natural Search for the next half of 2011

Branding and Design Search Engine Optimization Social Media Marketing

The start of a new quarter for most marketers quite often means lots of reflection, reviewing past performance & implementing new ideas / learning’s. Digital marketing and search as part of that have come a long way since the early days  of the web.  Search has matured, enough people now understand enough for it to become more widely accepted and feared less.

The black hat techniques and complexity that used to make it in acceptable to so many are finally being weeded out by most companies. Moving ahead I believe Natural Search will start to work its way into marketing teams & businesses rather than remain outsourced to “specialists” or left to specific roles in the business.

My summary for SEO success factors

1. Integration will be the key to a successful 2011

Linking natural search knowledge to other marketing channels as part of your marketing process will be the key to success.  Interweaving and understanding how SEO and social media influence and support each other will be key to ensuring you secure sustainable positions in key search engines. What I mean by integration:

  • Actions in social networks directly influences natural search listings
  • Marketing team integration – Copywriters / content generators & creative talent will be more important that technical to achieve success
  • Universal search growth links in Maps, Video, Books, Blogs, Forums. Each content type needs to be understood & integrated from a broader search perspective

2. Being active will make it or break it for you

Creating a brand that is lively, alert & active will be key to success. With global economies still slow, unemployment still high & costs for most industries going up I find it hard to see how a brand that is not awake, active & being remarkable in its market place will grow in 2011. Customers will require a level of value, trust & excitement to part with their money like never before.

Obviously activity creates content, buzz / excitement around the brand which in turn attracts links, boosts your rankings, brings referrals and suddenly if your product, price & service are of the right caliber 2011 could start to look very bright.

3. Quality will matter more than ever

The quality and making information easily accessible and fun to digest will help earn visitor’s trust. We have also seen signs that click-through rates from results pages can also influence where you rank for your target key phrases. Making titles & description tags very important when it comes to ranking. Removing spam and understanding your customer will help you skilfully craft titles & descriptions that attract clicks and therefore help you move up the results pages.

4. Mobile / Location Search will grow massively

Somehow some search marketers don’t see much value in mobile, I think this is a big mistake. How you rank and appear in mobile search might not be much different but how it is interacted with and the opportunities it is bound to create should receive a lot of attention. Time spent on mobiles, the use of apps & mobile browsers is only going one way and that will not change for the next half of 2011. How you utilise mobile for your business will be key. We know that search on mobiles will be highly localized due to majority of phones now having GPRS capabilities, are you planning for this? Moving beyond results pages how does your site appear on popular handsets? Is it easy to use & navigate? Can I share or forward that content easily from my handset?

I believe mobile will be big for a majority of industries, at the very least  it requires that you get the basics right and I think it is not acceptable if your website cannot be viewed properly on a handheld device.

5. The use of data & analytic will grow

It is critical to develop a good understanding your customers, their online behaviors, their motivations, etc. The number of  free tools now available to help you listen, monitor, measure makes it unacceptable not to be using this data to influence the marketing process. The days of a specialist or large scale research to understand your customers at a good enough level have gone. The data available on demographics & their online behavior will help you make good decisions in the next half of 2011. Tools like Google Analytic & Facebook Insights will help you understand how people interact with you and you can run tests and monitor results.

Seeing how your rankings change, how your activity influences search and your visitors behavior will be key to see what actions you need to focus on and what you should stop doing entirely.

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