It’s vital to have a definitive, long-term marketing goal in place for your business in order to truly achieve a greater presence and earn more business within the vertical or verticals it serves.  While virtually every brand can benefit from a solid digital strategy, it is important to remember the various components that are integral in creating your own “game plan”.

Why Content is Crucial
Content is the cornerstone of any website, not only from an SEO perspective, but from a more human perspective, as well.  It is necessary to consider who your online brand is geared towards and which demographics your business is trying to reach.  Ask yourself these three questions when structuring any content for your brand:

“Who will read this?”

“Why will they read it?”

“Will this content provide value to the reader?”

All content on your business’ site, including blog posts and even supplemental content should provide some level of SEO value as well as have an informative and entertaining “edge” to truly stand out to the reader.

Targeted Content for a Relevant Audience
While the quality of your content is a definite factor in determining your site’s rankings and overall SEO performance, it is essential to ensure that your content (both on and off-site) is targeted toward your consumers or clients.

Even blog posts and social media content should be seen as an opportunity to captivate your audience and drive more valuable traffic and potential business to your brand.

Refresh Your Pages to Engage Your Readers
Content Management Systems are a major asset to business-oriented sites or any sites which require frequent updates or changes.  These platforms make it easy for even those with limited knowledge of HTML or other advanced programming languages to create fresh content on-the-fly in order to keep site viewers engaged and keep content up-to-date and relevant.

These guidelines are the key to developing a winning content strategy for your brand and bringing your site to the forefront of search results and maximizing your business’ potential for success in the digital marketplace.

When you watch TV this week, you may see ads for a new show called Elementary, which is another take on the original Master of Deduction, Sherlock Holmes. In the past five years, Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved detective stories have been adapted several times in film and television, and their popularity made me wonder how Mr. Holmes would handle SEO. In particular, I wondered how he would see social signals in the overall scheme of things. While nobody knows for certain what Google’s algorithm is, there are certainly some clues that might help us deduce social signals. Let’s take a look at what we do know.

When the Penguin Update came out, Google dropped the hammer on many Black Hat SEO practices. These included:

  • Keyword Stuffing
  • Overuse of Exact Match Anchor Text Links
  • Link farms
  • Links from Foreign Sites

Sites that used these and other Black Hat practices were penalized and saw their rankings drop significantly. Google tried to establish the fact that relevancy was king in rankings. Sites that had fresh content and quality backlinks were the ones that were going to appear on the first page because they would be the ones most useful to the user. With that in mind, how do social signals figure into the mix?  What about votes of confidence from social shares?  Do they really count?

In 2010, Danny Sullivan wrote an article in Search Engine Land that highlighted how Google and Bing might be using social data from Twitter and Facebook to help determine rankings.  Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team, responded with this YouTube video on his channel. He suggested that social signals figured greatly in Google’s real-time search results and confirmed that Google was dabbling into the idea of author authority. Still, he didn’t reveal too much about social signals’ weight in rankings.

In the time since then, several events have occurred that may bring more light to where social signals come into play.  Twitter and Google’s deal officially expired in 2011, which led to the end of real-time search results.

We discussed the Twitter fire-hose being closed off earlier this year on You Tube

Google bought several patents in the earlier part of the year, creating buzz that it’s looking to add more social elements into search results. Finally, Cutts weighed in just last month and said that Google was unable to crawl Twitter’s pages for 1.5 months after their deal ended, which gave him some cause for concern over third party platforms. However, he did again reiterate that Google is always looking for those who are important because they’ll bring relevancy and quality searches.

What concerns would Google have with third party platforms.  Google has consistently said it does not weigh +1′s seriously into it’s algorithm at this time and considers Search Plus your World more at this point.

So we have some clues and hints, but what does this all mean? David Harry of Search Engine Watch released a great blog post several months ago that takes an in-depth look at social signals and shows that however they figure into the algorithm right now, being involved in different social channels can certainly increase your visibility and overall authority. Those who follow and are fans of you or your business will more likely link to you, retweet an interesting thing you said or tell others about you. These will organically boost other signals that are known to figure into the algorithm right now.

But this is in direct contradiction to what Google is saying, other than the OG (Open Graph) argument.  Fact of the matter is that social signals have an indirect relationship to increased visibility in SERP’s and can be explained as mentioned above.  Improving your impressions (and CTR) the Search Plus your World and other avenues will positively lift your site pages in the rankings.

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg recently commented that the company is “uniquely positioned” and it’s search team are working on ways to develop its Search Engine for purposes other than People Search.

Also, as you might have noticed, I used relevancy several times in the blog post. Google is all about producing the best results for its users. It wants websites to build real relationships and followings. Perhaps, that’s why there are whispers that guest blogs produced by paid spam sites might be next on Google’s hit list. These disingenuous routes to produce fake results are a thing of the past. A strong social media presence with fresh content and active engagement is something that people who use the web want.

Just as the days of getting 500 bookmarks and 500 directory submissions have long passed we anticipate the days of buying mass quantities of low quality blog advertisement posts (poorly spun and disingenuous content) are next on the radar.

For example, Webimax uses a variety of techniques for its clients to help bolster their social media presence. The goal is to create a voice that others who are connected to you will find interesting and engaging. This will include actively approaching leaders in the industry; encouraging users to participate in contests, surveys, or polls; and building a network of different social media platforms around your brand. All of these things will make you more relevant, which should make you friendlier to Google.

Social Signals is such a great term when we understand it’s meaning.  Deeper than tweets and shares related to an article or piece of content.  Within our daily lives we stumble upon many actions we give off and receive from people in our lives.  A cashier at the checkout with the attitude signals to us that you may not shop their again.  A construction worker who holds the door for an older person at the convenience store signals you to take notice of his uniform.  These are all great signals of trust, right?

Not necessarily.  In these examples; Consider the cashier had a bad day because she couldn’t pick up all three of her kids from day care on time and got hit with a hefty fee.  Consider the gentle construction worker who held the door generously had intent to not draw suspicion of his shoplifting plot.  These certainly are extreme examples but lay the groundwork for sentiment and trust and how we reward those with it.

Maybe this is Matt Cutts whole argument for Google against truly evolving the algorithm to further heavily weight social signals.  How can you really know (and rank) trust and authority socially?

This is the problem Google will likely be more transparent about by the end of the year with the evolution of digital media, specifically mobile and tablet usage.  Users are relying on social signals to form opinions on local businesses and other services.  If Google can’t find a way to incorporate these signals into it’s main engine then it will lose out, not to other search engines but to other distribution platforms such as social mobile applications.

If Google does not use social signals in its rankings or at least start to use them more in the near future, how relevant can its search results really be? It doesn’t take a world class detective to tell you that social signals will factor in SEO for years to come.  But will we be thinking of Google when we are are considering them?

Co Author:  Christopher Hardwick, WebiMax

MOUNT LAUREL, NJ — (May 31, 2012) – WebiMax, a leading online marketing firm, will host a Webinar on June 5, 2012 at 2:00pm EST discussing the recent Google Penguin data refresh and the future of online marketing.  Seats are still open although they are filling fast.

“I am pleased to announce we currently have over 500 registrants for our webinar” said Kenneth Wisnefski, who founded WebiMax in 2008.  “Our team of experts will discuss the update in addition to offering tips for recovery and speak toward the future of online marketing.”

The panel will include Kenneth Wisnefski, founder and CEO, Todd Bailey, Vice President of Marketing and Digital Strategy, Michael Stricker, Director of SMO, and Chris Countey, Director of SEO Strategy at WebiMax.

Google, Inc., who maintains 66.4% of the U.S. search engine market share (according to comScore), released a major algorithm update titled “Penguin” on April 24 impacting 3% of all search queries.  Their intention is to target search engine spammers and black-hat SEO tactics.

“The most common problem we are observing in the community is that there is a significant amount of marketers and advertisers who are unaware of the update and how their site has been affected” states Todd Bailey.  “The fact is, Google updates their search algorithm over 50 times a month and many marketers lack the resources to stay up to date with the intense amount of changes.”

Bailey also states that “no WebiMax clients suffered from the Penguin as a direct result of our efforts”, and furthers “WebiMax has a mass amount of resources in-house and are helping over 75 new clients acquired in the past month after they were negatively impacted by the update in late April.”

“The Penguin update may be the single most important change Google has made to its search engine in the history of online marketing,” states Chris Countey.  “They [Google] are looking for very specific types of links, some that companies are not even aware they have in their portfolio.”

With over 12 million U.S. searches conducted on Google last month alone, approximately 360,000 search queries were impacted.  Such characteristics, including excessive links from low quality websites, unnatural links to increase PageRank for a specific keyword, and high keyword density, were targeted, amongst others.

At the time in which the Penguin update was officially released, Michael Stricker contends that many webmasters were unaware of it.

“We are distressed that many responsible webmasters and online business operators have suffered from Penguin and don’t even know where to turn for help, how to identify the precise issues, what to do to fix their problems or how to build new traffic streams to transcend future updates,” states Michael Stricker.  “Therefore many missed the warning about their significant drop in organic search engine traffic as a result of the Penguin algorithm update.”

Registration is open until 2:00pm EST on June 5 and individuals can register here.

Pictured from left to right: Chris Countey, Director of SEO Strategy, Todd Bailey, Vice President of Marketing and Digital Strategy, and Michael Stricker, SEO and Social Media Strategist

MOUNT LAUREL, NJ — (May 24, 2012) – Kenneth Wisnefski, founder and CEO of WebiMax, a leading search engine optimization firm, announced today that the company will host a webinar discussing Google, Inc.’s recent Penguin algorithm update and the future of internet marketing on June 5th at 2:00pm EST.  The Penguin was released in late April and is a major update to the search engine’s algorithm and has impacted the entire search community.

“I am pleased to announce that this webinar will be hosted by WebiMax’s own Todd Bailey, Vice President of Marketing and Digital Strategy, Michael Stricker, SEO and Social Media Strategist, and Chris Countey, Director of SEO Strategy,” states Wisnefski.  “Our experts will discuss relevancy, SEO signals (including links, social & relevancy), the impact of the Penguin update and how to recover, Google’s Knowledge Graph, and more.”

Google states the Penguin update is another necessary step toward eliminating spammy websites from their search engine, and further declared there are over 50 updates each month, causing webmasters to scramble to stay informed.

WebiMax employs some of the most talented webmasters in the search community and feels it is necessary to host this type of webinar,” exclaims Todd Bailey.  “We have the resources in personnel and experience to be able to discuss best practices including how to adjust your website to the Penguin update and further discuss the future of internet marketing.”

The Penguin update webinar is open to the public but has a limited amount of seats.  It will take place on June 5th at approximately 2:00pm EST.  All interested may register here.

About WebiMax:
Led by serial web entrepreneur Ken Wisnefski, WebiMax has established themselves as a global leader in SEO services, E-commerce solutions, social media, web design, pay-per-click management and reputation management.  The company was voted one of America’s Most Promising Companies (2011) by Forbes Magazine and recently awarded one of Philadelphia’s Fastest Growing Companies (2012 and 2011) by the Philadelphia Business Journal.  WebiMax employs over 150 personnel in 12 offices including 8 U.S. based, and 4 International. Visit http://www.webimax.com/ for more information.

Google, Inc. is expected to release another important update to their Panda algorithm that was originally released in early 2011.  Todd Bailey, Vice President of Digital Strategy at WebiMax, the leading search engine optimization firm, discusses the evolution of the “Panda” and further discusses its importance to the integrity of the search engine marketing industry.

The SEO industry has unfortunately been affected by unscrupulous firms that practice ‘black-hat’ optimization.  This includes cheating search algorithms to help a website populate higher in search engine rankings.  Google took direct aim at this ongoing problem in an event to penalize these websites.   There have been instances where reputable sites have been negatively affected, however, and as Google plans to release their new update, an expected 1 percent of domains will see its effects.

“A recent update targeting keywords that have been victimized by black-hat optimization firms have caused some reputable domains including PR Newswire and Forbes to get flagged for keyword density among other factors”, states Bailey.  “Webmasters need to understand where their content is and where it is displayed both onsite and offsite”.

During the month of October, a reported 11.2 billion searches were conducted on Google.  The company announced that less than 1 percent of domains will be affected by the new update.

“Google does a great job reinforcing their commitment to only delivering high quality results to the end-user of their search engine”, states Bailey.  “It is instances like this that illustrates the importance of regularly managing a search engine optimization campaign and continuously cultivating the relevance of ranked keywords, links, title tags, meta tags and more”.

Although Google will not disclose the exact parameters of the expected update, it is fairly simple to recognize the changes through studying the type of websites that are affected.

“Remember, Google wants to serve up pages that are most relevant and contain high quality content for the end-user.  Other considerations include maintaining keywords above the fold and ensuring the page is not ad-heavy.  Webmasters that pay attention to the important changes made to our industry will be able to deliver the most success to their clients search engine optimization campaigns”, concludes Bailey.