shutterstock_200231792From established corporations to fierce young startups, search engine optimisation is valued and feared in equal measure – it’s an art and a science; a proven way to ensure you stand out in a tough market, but it has to be done right. But what defines ‘right’?

It’s not just about keywords anymore. SEO methods have had to evolve and become more sophisticated in the face of savvier, more cynical customers. It’s all about authentic content.

Content marketing: write blogs (like we do)

To start powering up the page ranks, blogging is a great way to talk to your customers about your industry, product or service – while including the keywords they’ve searched for, and that Google will recognise.

The trick here is not to rush into creating waffly, irrelevant and unreadable content for the sake of eyeballs on screen; blogs, by their very nature, are conversational and informative rather than dry and technical.

For each blog entry, at least 3 keywords are recommended; they’re best woven throughout natural-sounding text.

Don’t overlook brand building for SEO

Blogs on social media and building brand identity on company websites are great, but don’t overlook the rest of the web for building credibility, influence and publicity elsewhere.

Public relations and brand marketing should be a key focus in your strategy as well as social media for getting the highest online search rankings.

In a 2013 ‘Whiteboard Friday’ report by industry stalwarts Moz, a survey of over 100 SEO experts found that brand publicity on the web is one of the most overlooked aspects of SEO by many businesses. As founder Rand Fishkin said: “If you’re not building a brand on the web, that could be seriously hurting your SEO”.

Going local is just as important as going large

You may want to rule the world, but that’s not easy if, in SEO terms, even your mother doesn’t know who you are. According to 2015 research by seoClarity about a Google format update, local search results still rank top the majority 93% of the time, compared to just 25% in older analyses.

When looking at the positive impact of the update, the report stated that there was a “huge opportunity” for bricks-and-mortar businesses and local service providers to boost their online presence. That’s because “for years [they] lacked the budget, expertise, and cachet of larger competitors – and can now leapfrog their well-heeled web-only competitors and jump into the #1 spot by focusing on local SEO and optimising their local business listing.”

Content is king; social media is queen

Content and social media reign hand in hand. Empires can be carefully built on social media, and torn down with a mere flex of a hashtag. Create engaging content which is shared by people; this in turn gets more recognition from Google, Bing and co, which are now indexing tweets. Social media profiles are considered one of the top online results when searching for a company’s brand name, so make your content relevant to your brand image.

Don’t forget to engage people who aren’t spending money on your company’s products, though. Look around your office for enthusiastic brand ambassadors, employees who can share their enthusiasm and knowledge with the wider world. Encourage them to post images, status updates, competitions, and topical debates to get customers focusing on what your brand can offer to them and spark interest.

Facebook and Twitter are more or less search engines themselves, making social the new SEO of modern age online marketing. Make sure that your SM strategy is rock-solid.