SEO: What if the future was Honesty?

In the last 10 years, I’ve heard many stories about the future of SEO. Now it is time to ask ourselves, isn’t it simply, honesty?

Some awesome teams like MOZ and Searchengineland try hard not to sacrifice content over sensationalism, and that’s what make them stay around. And somehow, these teams strategy is like SEO itself, focusing on relevancy, greatly organized content, education, and transparency.

Beware of sensationalism

The future of seo

I have a tendency to generally stay away from sensationalism. My greatest challenge these days is to filter my Twitter feed to remove all the “5 things you didn’t know about” and “what you’re about to read will change the way you see […] forever”.

I’ve always believed in honesty over tricks, long term over short term profits, and in a world where everyone has been put in competition with anyone, and even with themselves, it’s been pretty tough to stick with my principles.

The beautiful part of SEO nowadays: Honesty has become the best strategy.

Not because an ethical battle has been won, but simply because the search algorithm has evolved this way.

Some SEO predictions

SEO predictionsThe Nostradamus part in all of us has a tendency to try and predict the future. After all, isn’t it what I’m doing with this article? But like with any predictions, it’s important to not blindly follow them. Here are predictions I heard in the last 10 years that were supposed to happen “next year”:

  1. Bing is gonna be the real deal in 2011
  2. QR codes will be everywhere before the end of the year 2011
  3. Google instant preview is here to stay in 2011
  4. Social Media Optimization is the way to go to improve rankings in 2011
  5. Mobile apps will beat Mobile websites in 2012
  6. Website speed is the key for 2012
  7. Websites without a mobile version will die in 2013

It’s important to understand that I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with these predictions, but none of them really happened the way they said they would. It’s never black and white, and predicitons should show tendencies, no more.

The infamous one: SEO is dead

SEO is dead

This one likes to stick around. Every Halloween the fear for the living dead SEO specialists is back.

Apart from being the same old clickbait, this prediction seems to have some believers. Every year some people predicted the death of SEO. What they should have said really was that a way of doing SEO was not recommended anymore.

You can read this great article about the many deaths of SEO over history.

But the truth is as long as there are Search Engines there will be SEO. Because the Search Engines are algorithms, we can optimize our websites to get better rankings, explore opportunities, make our brand look better, help users find our content…

Working with website owners?

Search Engines are not much different nowadays. They simply have fewer flaws.

Google has always tried to satisfy users, and the only way for the giant search engine to do so is to offer the best results. Think about it; millions of links for each query and Google has to pick 3 of them… not only to please the whole world but also to please you, personally.Education in SEO

What better way of doing that than by controlling how websites are optimized?

That’s what Google decided in 2009 when they shared their SEO recommendations with web developers. They gave up the key to their algorithm, with the risk of helping spammers and black hat SEO. But what happened is really the opposite, they helped website owners getting ranked for what they are worth.

It took years to become mainstream, but it looks like now it quite is. Education has paid off.

Forget about old-school SEO

In SEO, the term old-school generally has a negative connotation. It brings back the time where cheap tricks had an impact on search results. People were not even known as SEO specialist, but more as that nerd guy that can help your website rank first for $10,000.

Some of their techniques were considered very bad (like writing keywords in the same color as the background), and some were considered fine, like paying to get a thousand backlinks.

You can read the awesome White Friday about the old school SEO practices that don’t work anymore by Rand to understand why these practices don’t work anymore.

In case you don’t have time to read his article now, here is what I retained:
forget about old school seo

  • Don’t over-optimize your content, unless you want to look sketchy, or spammy. There was a time when it was worth it but this time is over. What you risk now is getting bad CTR and thus, bad rankings.
  • Heavy use of anchor text internally. Well, that’s pretty much the same idea: it’s spammy.
  • Pages for every keyword variant. This one is not really spammy, but it still is not very… natural. would you incorporate ten synonyms of the same keyword in a well-done information architecture? probably not.
  • Most Directories and paid links.
  • Microsites, subdomains, and separate domains for same audience or topic target
  • Sketchy domain matching keywords, something like instead of the actual name of the dentist.

The list goes on and shows what most SEOs used to do, not only black or gray hat SEO.

What it tells us is that we’re heading in a certain direction, and it’s pretty clear:

Honesty will lead you much further than any SEO technique you could think of.

Why do you need the services of an SEO expert then?

Why do you need the services of a Community manager, you know Social Media right? Why do you need a copywriter? You can write your own story… You can hire an SEO expert to worry about everything Search Engines related so you can have more time to worry about your business. Plus there are still finally so many things an SEO can help you with:

  • Information Architecture for both humans and robots
  • Quality of code
  • Quality of copy
  • Looking for topics that interest your audience
  • Understanding how your brand is seen by robots
  • Help you understand your website

In a more poetic way:

An SEO expert can help your website finds its place in the digital world.

Bonus chapter: RankBrain, Google’s IA

Google fabulous rankbrain and seoTo finish this article I want to talk to you about RankBrain, Google’s IA that helps the algorithm deliver better results. Basically, from what Google says and what we assume, it’s designed to understand what people are looking for exactly. After all, when we search for stuff, we don’t always type in the best query.

I could search for “pizza” but what I really mean is “I’m hungry, show me pizza around me”. And Google will show you a map with pizza around as well as articles like “the 10 best pizza place in Toronto”, and wait, just in case, the search engine will also show you a quick link to the pizza (dish) in case that’s what you actually meant. If you click on it, the page will adapt and show you images of pizza along with nutritional facts, and also suggest looking for burgers, or pizza dough… It knows what you need, and helps you get it faster.

You can read the awesome article from Searchengineland about Rankbrain to get more information and start freaking out at how smart Google is.

Thanks for reading!

What is CRO and why it is not just a buzz word.

What is Conversion Rate Optimization (C.R.O.)?

Wikipedia says that: “In internet marketing, conversion optimization, or conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a system for increasing the percentage of visitors to a website that convert into customers or more generally, take any desired action on a webpage.”

cro toronto

Why Should you care about CRO?

You don’t necessarily have to. For example, if your website is purely informative you should worry about

User Experience (UX), Information Architecture (IA), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Web Accessibility (no abbreviation for this one!), and any other strategy that ensures your website delivers it’s message.

Let’s say your website offers great content and you want users to donate to your charity, contact you about their project, or buy your product. Yeah, those are goals. Maybe you want visitors to like you on facebook? You got it…
All these are goals and they have a Conversion Rate you can optimize.

how to cro

Is it a new Internet fad?

Not really. Conversion Rate Optimization got popular in the late 2000’s when the online competition became too strong.
Everyone wanted a piece of the internet cake and it lead to a high level of competition where improving a website’s marketing became the difference between failure and success.

It’s not new. CRO is based on Direct Response Marketing, a marketing method invented a century ago. Like Direct Response Marketing, CRO follows the path: Track, Test, Improve. Direct Response Marketing also used A/B testing, response tracking and audience testing.

Ok, so how do I do CRO?

Great! Let’s move forward.
The first step of Conversion Rate Optimization is to define your goals.
If you are working with an ecommerce site your goal should be to sell more products.
If you have a great blog, you probably want visitors to subscribe to your newsletter or like your Facebook page.
If you are a professional baker you probably want people to book your services for their birthday party next month… Examples are endless.

cro direct response marketing

You probably also want to create micro goals.

Your main goal is called the Macro Goal, but it’s not the only one. Your website probably also has a lot of smaller goals that are very important to you. For example, let’s say that you invested time and money in an awesome new video you put on the website then you probably want to know how many people are watching it. We are going to track it.

If your video helps your visitors it is possible that it will lead to a more conversions of your macro goal and that’s good for you.

Collect. Analyse. Think.

cro services analyticsYou’ve heard about Google Analytics haven’t you?
You know that it’s great to track a lot of data and apparently everyone uses it. Good news, it is great! Bad news, everyone uses it.
Google Analytics will help you track your goals, see where your customers drop-off, and fix it.

Let’s change everything!

Hey there! It’s exciting but let’s take some time to think and test. Your ideas are probably awesome, but nothing proves that they will lead to more conversions.
Even a brand new design doesn’t guarantee a better conversion rate. Maybe your users loved your old design.

When we do CRO for our clients we analyse every channel, we do user profiling, we build hypotheses on how to simplify the conversion funnel, we connect it with our clients’ Social media campaigns, SEO and SEM…

We understand the data first.

Now we create hypotheses.

And we test them.
We have great tools to test these ideas. If they work and actually help your conversion volume, we implement them on your website.
It’s simple right?

Well it’s rarely that simple, but every hypothesis and every test helps your business a lot and ultimately leads to your success.

conversion rate optimization noble pixels

CRO works better with SEO.

What we realized here is that very often our clients need better SEO and CRO, so we created a way to interlink them into a more global strategy named CVO. Conversion Volume Optimization.
At the end of the day, whether you have an ecommerce or a corporate site, what matters is your conversion volume.

We are in Toronto.

We are CRO specialists based in Toronto and we can help you improve your conversions.

Contact us to learn more about what CRO can do for your business.

Sources: Wikipedia, images: