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If you've been following the digital marketing blogosphere for the last week, by now you've probably concluded that SEO is dead because within 3 months there will be no more keyword data in Google Analytics. Right? Its the end of SEO. No more measuring. No more valuable data. Its Adwords or nothing.

Let's just stop the madness right now. This is a load of BS. Yes, as usual, Google has shaken the SEO world to its core. In case you haven't noticed, these major shake ups happen, at least, once a year. What does it mean? It means we evolve. Is this a frustration for marketers? Sure! No one likes change and with so many scam artists in the SEO industry, this will make it very difficult for shoddy SEO companies that provide pretty SEO reports that don't mean much to continue on the way they have... unless of course they're just going to completely fabricate reporting, which I suppose isn't out of the realm of possibilities given the loose ethics already being employed, but I digress... SEO isn't dead.

So why all the doom and gloom? You know the old saying in news media, "if it bleeds, it leads." Its an attention grabber and not to mislead you, this is an important change, but thats all it is -- a change. The way we measure will change. The depth at which SEO's will need to research and compile data will be more involved. Reporting valuable metrics will become more time consuming. But those of us providing a real SEO service are already well on our way to sorting this out -- AND IT HASN'T EVEN HAPPENED YET! So, you can take a deep breath and stop panicking.

Wondering about the solutions in the works? Rand Fishkin of Moz has already begun to trudge the path. You can see his suggestions in this short video.

Still not convinced? How many times have you heard SEO is dead before? You know what happens every time people write that SEO is dead? SEO company's website traffic spikes through the roof and leads pour in. Don't believe me? Here is our website traffic for the last 7 days. This is all a direct result of the pandemonium surrounding Google's latest shake up.

The real question is what to do as a business owner to make sure you're ready to compete in the new SEO landscape that is fast approaching. For one thing, call your SEO company. Ask how they are preparing for the shift ahead.

Look at the reporting you've been receiving. Is it solely keyword based? Are there metrics on specific landing pages? Do you get reports that show the actual content created by your SEO company? Does reporting connect the dots from keywords, to traffic, to landing pages, to leads, to conversion? Is your SEO company talking about shifting focus from high level metrics to conversion based metrics? If not, why not?

Here are some questions to ask yourself as a business owner. Is your SEO company, just an SEO company? SEO isn't a marketing strategy. A marketing strategy consists of many components of which SEO is one of them, but the should be part of a greater overall strategy and those components should all be tied together for the purpose of definable goals that can be measured and held accountable. If you're just "paying for SEO," then you're probably missing the boat.

OK. Crisis averted. Let's get back to business. Dealers, what are your challenges with SEO or your SEO company? Sound off! We're here to help!

Original article posted on Wikimotive's blog

Views: 1889

Tags: Google, SEO, Sky is Falling, Wikimotive


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Comment by Alexander Lau on October 1, 2013 at 10:34am

What type of “new” search activity does Hummingbird help?

Conversational search” is one of the biggest examples Google gave. People, when speaking searches, may find it more useful to have a conversation.

“What’s the closest place to buy the iPhone 5s to my home?” A traditional search engine might focus on finding matches for words — finding a page that says “buy” and “iPhone 5s,” for example.

Hummingbird should better focus on the meaning behind the words. It may better understand the actual location of your home, if you’ve shared that with Google. It might understand that “place” means you want a brick-and-mortar store. It might get that “iPhone 5s” is a particular type of electronic device carried by certain stores. Knowing all these meanings may help Google go beyond just finding pages with matching words.

In particular, Google said that Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.

Comment by JB Floyd on October 1, 2013 at 10:32am

Sellers of SEO products & services want you to believe the "chicken little" effect, or that you your rank on your pages are horrible and the only thing to fix that is to buy, buy, and buy!

This is the breakdown: Hummingbird extends Google's "conversational search" to all web pages, not just those in the Knowledge Graph."Conversational search" is another way of saying that Google believes they have figured out a better way to interpret and understand a user's complete search query. (In the past, it seems that their algorithm was simply looking for the primary keyword within a long tail query, and then extrapolating everything else).
Hummingbird has been out for a couple of months, so if your web pages have seen increased traffic, then you need to keep doing what you are doing. If your traffic is down, then Google could be having an issue in making sense of your site.

The true point of on-page SEO is to bring meaning to site content. It's your way of giving Google every chance at understanding what each of your pages is about, the focus of each category, the logic of your idea- and page-flow, by creating silos, you are providing content structure that makes it clear to Google what your pages and categories are all about.

Google appreciates well-structured sites, because it makes their search robots' jobs so much easier. Take a hard look at your site, does it make sense? Each page clear, understandable, up to date, and provides good content? If you are determined to have your site win at with search engine traffic, you will want your site to be fresh, up to date, relevant, and provide rich user content.

Comment by Alexander Lau on September 30, 2013 at 8:15am

@ Paul.

"Placing your entire business model in the hands of another business, in this case Google, is a failure in progress. I learned some valuable personal business lessons by doing this very thing. Smart companies will look for ways to not rely on them for data or at the minimum not let them be the only source."

I couldn't agree more. Hence the need for your SEO / Search Content Marketing (SCM) person or consultants to place their trust in many avenues of data (Bing shows incredible conversion results for the automotive world, much better than Google actually). Using tools such as Moz (formerly SEOMoz), gShift, SEMRush, WordStream, SEOScribe plugin (for your WordPress junkies, our system pulls in WP functionality which keeps your blog content on-site) and of course SkyWord (fantastic tool, albeit expensive).

Hummingbird is really just an extension of Google’s ongoing strategy to become less dependent on keywords. For now (according to Sullivan's report), according to Google, you don’t need to worry about anything, and Google’s normal SEO guidance remains the same, but that's going to change.

Comment by David Addison on September 27, 2013 at 2:48pm

We're seeing great results with RWD.  Swipe is here. Click is out. Merchandising and content rule.  Old SEO is dead.  SMI is here.  Everything is changing faster than ever.

Comment by Timothy Martell on September 27, 2013 at 2:40pm

Hummingbird has already put an end to the debate. During their testing over the past two months we saw consistent 200%+ increases in traffic across the board with our entire client base during rotating test phases. Gaming just isn't going to work. Build a service around real content based on the goals of the business from the standpoint of the consumer or find a new profession is what it boils down to. 

Landing pages are going to matter a whole lot more in the coming months!

Comment by Paul Rushing on September 27, 2013 at 2:27pm

The topic at hand is moot. This is not going to be a concern for dealers unless they DITY, it is a concern for the agency responsible for delivering traffic and optimizing conversion. 

Placing your entire business model in the hands of another business, in this case Google, is a failure in progress. I learned some valuable personal business lessons by doing this very thing. Smart companies will look for ways to not rely on them for data or at the minimum not let them be the only source.

Smart agencies will learn how to best serve their client based on the recent changes and develop their own methodologies to provide the insight to their clients and themselves. Sharing that information in a public forum is not going to happen unless you are developing the agency level application and are looking to generate agency level business.

Every vendor in the space has strong points and weaknesses and conversations like this really serve no purpose.

Comment by Timothy Martell on September 27, 2013 at 1:36pm

Great debate. Bottom line, in large part, auto-retail is an old boys club. I know all too well having been a card carrying member for over 2 decades. Is all of it? Of course not, but most of it certainly is. The fear lies in the dealer body. They (rightfully) don't trust vendors. They trust you even less if you don't have the auto-retail badge of honor. For this reason, there is and will continue to exist a monstrous challenge on the part of non-auto companies breaking in to the auto-retail sector. It is what it is. I don't care how shiny your ppt presentation is, I'll have an advantage every time going head to head - not just because I come from the auto-retail world, but because I offer a proven system with many references from well respected dealers AND I did the job for 21 years AND my family has been in auto-retail for 44 years. 

Moving on... I am frankly, surprised that there has been as much fuss over the keyword not provided issue as there has been. Maybe I'm out of touch with just how many companies rely on this aspect of reporting. It's been largely speculative for some time as to the value of this metric. 

Our focus has been more causation focused in terms of landing pages, conversion (in the form of lead submission) and ultimately sales (when the right tools are in place). Correlation is important, but its (always been) about tangible PROVABLE ROI.

Comment by Ryan Smith on September 27, 2013 at 11:18am

Thanks for the links Alexander; you support David's point perfectly that you have to understand the differentials of each client's vertical.  All those dynamics and little nuisances to apply.

I don't mean to stray further OT, but just to illustrate the point sufficient to put this misunderstanding to rest in favor of returning to the OT, let's give the same treatment to another broad old high-demand, high-profitability industry:

Healthcare Keyword Research: How It's Different

Healthcare Link Development: How It's Different

Healthcare Website Architecture And User Experience: Why It Matters... Microdata Markup for the Healthcare Industry

If you look through those, you'll notice something -- they essentially say the same things as they would for any other industry including automotive, because the strategic framework and tactical toolkits really don't change between industries.  You're right though, retail automotive is different and special, just like every other industry.

I didn't mean to imply that automotive marketing is no different than any other industry, but the SEO practices are absolutely the same on a meaningful level.  Certainly when you zoom in far enough on any particular concern, all the little dials you can fiddle with are going to be turned a little up or down from vertical to vertical, but it's the same control board and the same circuits power either effort.

My firm, among many unrelated projects in many unrelated verticals, is actually in the business of developing an optimized platform for auto dealer websites.  We're partnered in this effort with a veteran auto-industry-focused marketing agency, but we're still supplying the search strategy and best practices oversight because it's not an industry-specific knowledge area.  We're very interested in learning about auto dealer marketing, but from what we've seen of the state of the art in dealership sites, we're even more interested in teaching -- both clients and marketers alike, so that we may collectively, cooperatively raise the standard in this industry.

If anyone feels threatened by this, then I would suggest rather than examining their heads (or mine), they instead examine the source of their fear around the idea of increased competition.  It's supposed to be an opportunity to diversify and thrive, not divide and accuse.

It's a good thing the SEO industry doesn't treat newcomers this way, otherwise I don't know how any of us would have learned!

Comment by Alexander Lau on September 27, 2013 at 10:52am

That's easy to say, but difficult to put it into practice. There are very few non-automotive marketing agencies that are successful and / or make a big impact in the automotive world.

Comment by David Addison on September 27, 2013 at 10:49am

Anyone disagree?  I sure don't.

"Having a great understanding of auto retail and using shoddy digital marketing practices are far worse than having great digital practices and limited auto retail understanding."

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