Once upon a time (the past hundred years or so), in a land not far from here (all of our respective doorsteps), lived the concept of "yellow books."
These books were not like other books you may stumble upon. They were fat and heavy, dirtied your fingers, and configured your eyes into a permanent squint-mode with their tiny type. These yellow books were dangerous creatures, indeed.
How else could consumers find what the businesses they were looking for, though? Well fortunately, the consumer search landscape has drastically transformed since then. Instead of flipping pages, we type. Instead of squinting our eyes for the right match, search engines do the matching work for us. In this new world of search -- new in the grand scheme of things, at least -- it's critical for businesses to understand how to properly optimize their online presence for search.
To help you master SEO, we rallied some of the top experts in the industry to help clearly explain how to tackle every aspect of SEO. These experts come from various SEO companies, and all have a vested interest in the art of organic search optimization. Check out their expert tips in this infographic (which you can feel free to embed on your own website using the embed code below), and then navigate below for a quick explanation of what these tips mean for your search marketing strategy. You can also download the complete 61-page guide, Learning SEO from the Experts, to learn more from them.
SEO Tips From the Experts
"SEO is not about optimizing for search, it's about optimizing for humans." - Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot CTO (Tweet This Quote!)
What This Means for Marketers: Think about what your target audience is searching for when laying out your keyword strategy. You might find quick and meaningful success with long-tail keyword phrases -- keywords that are more than two words in length -- particularly if they're problem-oriented. For instance, someone looking for HubSpot's inbound marketing software might be searching for a solution to a problem like "how to get more qualified leads." That's a very specific keyword phrase that addresses a human's problem, not something generic like "leads" that might have a huge search volume, but not actually address the problems people are facing in your industry.
"It's not enough to rank on the first page. Marketers need to earn their clicks." - Rand Fishkin, SEOmoz CEO (Tweet This Quote!)
What This Means for Marketers: If you rank on the first page, it won't mean much if it wasn't earned. Not only because it doesn't translate into leads and customers, but also because it doesn't do anything to help you retain that top position ... or your site visitor's attention. It's incumbent on you to create truly helpful content that keeps people coming back for more, staying on your site longer, and sharing and subscribing to your content. This is how Google knows that you're a valuable resource -- the people that find your content perform actions that indicate they're really happy to have found you in the SERPs. That's the kind of sentiment you can only earn through consistent efforts to publish valuable content.
"Modern link building focuses on high-quality, original content that provides value." - Stephanie Chang, Distilled SEO Consultant (Tweet This Quote!)
What This Means for Marketers: Inbound links are the currency of the internet. And no one wants to buy a piece of junk. If you want your search rankings to improve, your content has to improve first. Plain and simple. There are no shortcuts to acquiring high-quality inbound links.
What This Means for Marketers: Your keyword strategy should align with your business goals. Use closed-loop reporting to ensure the keywords you're driving traffic from are actually driving qualified traffic. Not every site visitor will become a lead and/or customer, and that's alright, because you want your content to reach tons of people so you can help expand your brand's reach. But a portion of that traffic should also be bringing in traffic that converts on lead generating calls-to-action on your site. If you're not seeing that happen, it might be worth your while to refine your keyword strategy, and select keywords that more closely align with your target audience's needs.
While we've come a long way with search engine optimization, the field is constantly advancing. Search engines have been implementing changes to their search algorithms at rapid paces in order to deliver the most valuable matches for users' search queries. The more search engines base their decisions off consumer wants, the more we should all be aligning our businesses with this mantra, too. What can you do to optimize your online presence so it better benefits the searcher? Keeping that question top of mind in all of your marketing -- particularly your SEO -- will help you be an organic search expert just like the folks featured above!
What other expert thoughts do you have that will help us all be better at SEO?
Originally published Nov 6, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016