Making SEO simple again

If search engines are the gateway to the web (they are) then SEO – the trick of getting your brand to the top of natural search results –is the key to the gates. Trouble is, for a while search engine optimisation became more and more of a dark art.

That is until recently. In the last two years in particular, Google has focused huge efforts on rewarding companies who provide the kind of content that real people are searching for. A series of updates to Google’s search algorithm have driven down and out the “black hat” techniques which relied on tricks, schemes and link spam to boost search rankings. Now, Google is focused on rewarding those who produce and curate valuable content rather than trying to game the algorithm.

Does that make it easier for marketers to develop their position in search engines? Well probably not easier, but better.  Because now it comes back down to good marketing: that’s story-telling; engaging people with the content they want; developing helpful, relevant content rather than interruptive advertising.

SEO is, now more than ever, about listening to what people want. It’s about social media conversations, about using online video, blogs and PR to help people find and understand your brand. It’s not about link bombing; Javascript mouseover redirects; cloaking and “black hat” techniques. They simply don’t work any more.

What does this mean for outdoor active brands? It makes it more important than it’s ever been to work on inbound marketing. So, what to do today:

  1. Build relationships with influencers. Influencers drive word-of-mouth and word-of-mouth drives SEO. Talk to bloggers, use PR, develop content.
  2. Develop quality content that is focused on the right people. Understand what your customers and potential customers are looking for online and focus relentlessly on this. It’s not about quantity of content crammed with target keywords, it’s about shareable, remarkable content.
  3. Spend time finding out more about inbound marketing. You’ll find that you already do more of it than you realise. But you can probably do more still. Inbound marketing will bring quality customers to your website – cyclists, runners, skiers and sailors who have already self-selected as interested in what you have to offer.
  4. Develop buyer personas to better understand your customers. User research to figure out what they want. Use social media to engage them in conversation.
  5. Each time you talk to your agency / agencies, talk about what effect their proposed activities will have on search. If you don’t like the answer, then don’t do it. Because if you’re not making it easier for your (potential) customers to find you, then what’s the point in marketing?

Remember – the answer is search – simple.

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