Search Engine Optimization is the Art of Manufacturing Importance

Posted by Rob Campbell on May 26th, 2015

What do S.E.O. and Major Tom have in common?

Search Engine Optimization is becoming Public Relations. Gone are the days when you could pay an SEO company to make dozens of incoming links to your website and actually boost the site’s rankings.  These links came from directory sites and link farms and this tactic doesn’t work anymore because it wasn’t a real service in the first place.  The only people who went to those link directories were other people posting links. The exception is of course local citation sites, which are in fact link directories and do still work because people care.  Getting links to your site from these places is key to ranking higher in local search results, because real people use them and interact on them everyday.  On the best such sites consumers can share reviews and leave comments. Google can see that so many people care that they use them too, especially when the listings are perfectly set up for them as Name, Address, Phone Number + website link.

Other link building strategies that have declined in efficacy include guest blogging, leaving niche blog comments, links in footers, and even to some extent discussion forum posts and blog roll listings.  With a few notable exceptions these old school link tactics won’t have any affect on SERP rankings today. The reason is simply because the algorithm doesn’t just count the number of incoming links anymore, it also counts the people who care.  With this is mind the sharing buttons that count the ‘shares’ on each blog and article portal have become my most valued metrics for any piece of content with links to clients.

At Surround Link Building is ‘Meme-Weaving’

Major Tom is a powerful meme. When it comes to link building what DOES work to raise rankings is getting links from news media, and making sticky ideas that become memes in popular culture magazines, blogs and forums.  Major Tom is a good example of a forty year old meme, and today marketers can tap into many such existing threads or start their own ‘curious concepts’ that tickle imaginations and spark further content innovations. All of the images in the cover picture are from different artists who have collectively considered Major Tom. Together they have populated this meme with rock songs and stories, images and videos and its still growing. The best web marketers try to engineer similar sticky content memes around their own client’s products and services.

Coupons, Contests and Live Events are Best SEO Strategies

Google’s number one question is ‘who cares?’  That’s a Rob Campbell original quote and I stand behind those words today; its the basis of every decision I make regarding where I’ll spend my precious time working to make content with links to amplify client’s rankings.  I must ask, how can i get people to care about a particular website? and furthermore how can I get them to show they care by socially sharing the content that I make with links to client pages? And the answer usually comes down to one of three options – coupons, contests and live events.  Those are the types of things that people share most often. The fourth option is making great informative content and this is probably the very hardest thing to do (… and not be perceived as derivative or worse, duplicate in an internet full of informative content).

SEO happens under coupons, contests and live events.

Giving away a coffee machine at growth hacking event helped make Personal Service Coffee more important on the internet in May 2014. The combination contest and live event allowed powerful link building in all related content.

Today good SEO is not about making incoming links; but rather, good SEO is about making ‘importance’, which is measured in social signals and actual user experiences.  Digital marketing agencies like SURROUND do this better than SEO companies because they have the budget to tell meaningful stories and build valuable, sharable resources.  SEO companies which offer low monthly plans do not really have the capacity for meaningful storytelling; such organizations are not filled with talented writers, photographers, videographers and ‘influencers’, and their social networks are generally just long lists of other SEO guys.

So what does Google want? They want to put the best most relevant, most important, most usable websites first for any given search query. They measure the amount of time people spend searching for things and take note of what they found. When users buy products, leave comments, sign up for newsletters and get social, they are indeed using a website’s full functionality and this becomes a mark of distinction.

Do you see how SEO and content marketing can fit hand and glove?  The best most cost effective SEO today combines many different disciplines into the art of manufacturing importance.