SEO: What’s Hot and What’s Not

Mihaela Lica

New SEO.Many old SEO strategies have become obsolete, for example ranking for keywords that no one ever searches for – you know, those “ego boosters” that show your site on the first page of Google. Submitting your site to thousands of web directories to get links and submitting your site to the search engines to get indexed are two techniques no serious SEO even considers anymore. Webmasters still believe that exchanging links is the magic answer to higher rankings (they do still play a minor role in Google PageRanks), and many are still obsessing over duplicate content penalties (which we discussed in a past SitePoint article). All these techniques are today used by the inexperienced SEO and by the “old school” DIY who fail to understand the dynamics of Web 2.0.

The New SEO 2.0 Trends

Web 2.0 is a social entity, and obviously SEO for Web 2.0 needs to be social.

Building social networks on Facebook, LinkedIn, Bebo, YouTube, FriendFeed, Twitter and the like, is only one aspect. If you build them, the followers will not necessarily come. You have to give visitors a reason to become members of your community, and more importantly, you have to give them a reason to click on the links you submit to their attention if you want to fully benefit from the “network effect” so many web marketers are talking about today. Twitter is the perfect example of how this “network effect” can be beneficial. For example, Dell managed to make $3 million in revenue using Twitter to announce special offers and to communicate with their consumers.

Link baiting, another modern SEO technique, has a social aspect too: by publishing content people are really interested in, you basically encourage them to “call out” your site. Good content goes viral in a matter of hours. The readers will “tweet” your link, pass it along (this works pretty much like “word of mouth” ), mention your content on their sites, and etc. This is how natural links are built, and this is the only meaningful way to start a linking campaign nowadays.

Another important SEO aspect is defined as “long tail.” The term was originally coined by Chris Anderson in 2004 to describe the niche strategy of some businesses that sell a large number of unique items, each in relatively small quantities. As you see, the original meaning of the term had nothing to do with SEO. SEOs, however, like the term, and applied it to define an SEO strategy that deals with long keyword phrases (typically containing up to 5 words per phrase), that usually deliver less traffic but higher conversions.

Measuring SEO 2.0

Obsessing with page views and Alexa rankings is obviously not the way to measure SEO success anymore. Your analytics program offers a number of metrics that are more or less relevant, if you know how to read them.

For example, if the best performing keywords are the ones mentioning your brand, then your SEO is not that great. Good SEO delivers traffic for non-brand keywords more than for brand keywords. Of course, it is important to have searchers looking for your brand, but you don’t want to be dependent on it for natural traffic.

Another important metric, if you use Google Webmasters Tools for example, is the number of unique pages crawled and indexed by the search engines. The more unique pages you have indexed in the search engines, the higher your chances to drive traffic and generate sales.

The number of pages driving traffic to your site is also very important: it is in your best interest to keep this number high, to fully benefit from the “long tail” advantage mentioned above. Pages that don’t drive traffic are practically dead pages: they only clutter your site instead of bringing an SEO advantage.

Of course, there are other metrics that help in measuring how successful your SEO 2.0 is. Can you think of any? The comments are open, let’s talk!

Image courtesy SEO Refuge: SEO in the Afterlife