Wondering how the rampant innovations in search and social media are impacting SEO best practices?  

HubSpot recently got input from Aaron Khalow of Online Marketing Summit on the evolution of SEO and what it means for SMBs.  To continue the conversation, we asked two more internet marketing luminaries to weigh in on the topic.

Sage Lewis of SageRock , a digital marketing agency, and Nathan Thompson of Marketing Experiments both agreed that as search gets more relevant through social media and real time results, and Page Rank is declining in importance as the metric of note.

Sage used multi-media to his advantage and answered our questions on the evolution of SEO via video.   Ultimately, he says that "If you optimize for the visitor, your site will naturally be optimized for search engines," emphasizing that a modern, ethical approach to content creation and optimization is key and is driving legitimacy in SEO.

Though Sage's agency perspective is similar, the Marketing Experiments approach is a little different.  In fact, Nathan is a marketer after my own heart and ties his responses back to ROI.

How have you seen SEO as a practice change over the last few years?

For better or worse, SEO efforts are becoming more sophisticated over time. Most SEO "best practices" have been so widely circulated that just having keywords in your copy and title tags isn't going to put you at the top of Google. At the same time, there is still a lot of bad information floating around, so getting the basics right is necessary just to play the game.

As more people have started to see the value of SEO, and invest more time and money into SEO, it has become increasingly important to take a testing approach to your SEO efforts. Understanding how, why and when your efforts affect your rankings is just as important as your rank itself. Some of this comes from research, but even more of it comes from watching those who rank above you and from your own experimentation.

Is search engine rank (page rank) important?  Why or Why not?

It's a question of ROI.

If you're happy with your current level of traffic, leads, traffic quality, etc. then rank probably doesn't matter much to you, unless it changes. If all of your high-converting traffic comes from affiliates or PPC advertising, then rank probably doesn't mean much to you. But if improving your rank is going to provide you an ROI based on increased leads, more qualified traffic, etc. then rank probably matters to you a lot. Saying you don't want to rank at the top spot for one of your primary keywords is like saying you don't care if you win the lottery. While you're probably ok without it, you'd probably be really ok with it, too.  The bigger question is, "when is it feasible, considering your time and resources, to focus on achieving one more spot, versus focusing on your optimization efforts to increase sales with the traffic you already have?" Like any other business decision, it comes down to priorities and ROI.

How do you think localization and personalization have changed the relevance of search ranks?

As someone using search engines to find information, localization and personalization provides me with results that are more relevant to me, making me a more motivated, more qualified lead when I click on results and arrive at a site. As a site owner this makes the traffic arriving from these results even more valuable to me. I think this has increased the relevance of search ranks and places even more importance on SEO efforts.

What will be the impact of social media inclusion in search?

I think the impact of social media inclusion in search is two-fold. On one hand it will help provide more useful, more up-to-date information to users. On the other hand, the fast-changing nature of social media is going to create a lot of noise to filter through. A lot of this impact will depend on how the search engines adapt and begin to incorporate "real-time" and "social media" search results.

The other factor will be how social media sites themselves continue to evolve and handle the growing amount of information contained within these sites. People don't want all information; they want the "right" information.

What is the most important thing an SMB can do to improve organic traffic?

Start with the end in mind. The goal is not to improve organic traffic; it's to get more customers, sales, subscriptions, etc. Choose your keywords wisely. Get the basics right. Build your site to be future-proof.

Your SEO efforts start with the coding of your site. They continue with the creation of your content. Create relevant information. Get a ton of relevant links. Measure your progress. Don't piss off Google.

How is your content strategy evolving to leverage social media channels and get the most relevant content to your audience?

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Originally published Apr 22, 2010 1:30:00 PM, updated October 20 2016

Topics:

SEO and Content Marketing