Is Traditional SEO Dead?

Is it time to put a fork in the poor old SEO (Search Engine Optimization) bird that’s been maligned all these years by  posers, wannabees, hucksters who wanted to make a fast buck.

Lets face it, telling people you were in the SEO biz was a short cut to either dumbfounded looks (“what’s that?”)  or instant turn off, as they equated your skill set with Kurt Russel’s famous role in Used Cars.

We think the worm has turned and today’s unsung SEO hero or heroine is now morphing to a Search and Social Media Marketing geek.

In today’s Web 3.0 (dare we use the term) world the days of yore where SEO geeks razzled and dazzled the clients with talk of massive “Google Juice” traffic are just gone. The traffic is still there but getting it requires a different blend of marketing skills.

Google’s Caffeine is Game Changer

Google’s Caffeine Update is putting much more reliance on sites that are updated quickly and frequently - we are simplifying a bit for brevity.  Your site can be as pretty as  James Cameron’s Avatar but it still isn’t going to generate much traffic unless you update to a more holistic marketing  plan.

The important number is the caching dates; i.e. how frequently Google finds and indexes or lists your site’s pages. Rapid updates means your site is fresh and should be ranked higher than stale sites - Blogs are rapidly emerging as an essential marketing tool that compliments this new Web 3.0 world.

We are already seeing Keyword optimized Blog posts pop up in Google’s Search Results (SERPs in SEO geek lingo) within 24 hours after the Blog post has been made and augmented with another page of the client’s site right below the Blog post.

And, thank you Google folks (not so sound like sycophants), the pages are even now getting listed above Local Business Listings. This tells us Google has embraced Real Time Search and “likes” new and fresh content.

Social Media Reshaping SEO

So, what are the implications for Search Engine Optimization in this emerging Web 3.0 world? We think it’s incumbent for businesses or anyone that wants traffic to embrace Social Media Marketing.

Meaning, create fresh optimized content and push it out onto the web via any/all Social Sites and Processes - we couldn’t underscore how important Blogging is in this equation. And understand “Real Time Search” caveats - Twitter’s 19B searches per month is something any good marketer wants to latch onto!

Is Search Engine Optimization Dead?

We think traditional SEO as it was once done is dead - call the dogs and pour water on the fire and saddle up the buckaroos…….  What’s replacing SEO is SEO that is Social Media Optimized.

Meaning, you need a holistic marketing plan that recognizes the importance of a web site constructed with SEO Best Practices that also blends Social Media Marketing for Presence, Engagement, Conversation, Real Time Search Ranking, etc.

No brickbats from you SEO geeks please - we still believe in SEO services but are now embracing a broader call to arms……….. Questions:  Tweet or Contact Us - we welcome an opportunity to help you.

Social Media Etiquette

Today’s always on Social Media driven world does have some hidden and not so hidden Social Media Etiquette rules of the road.  Here is our take on Social Media Etiquette you want to be aware of:

Social Media Blurring Lines

You have a “self” that you use on any Social Media Platform, albeit Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or others. Unfortunately, the lines are blurring for all of these platforms, depending on your focus, type of company you work for and how you use them.

But, one way to categorize these Social Media Profiles is by attaching a “self” to each of them and trying to build a presence that is consistent with this focus.

But, it’s not always easy to do this, as your “Friends” on Facebook may start blurring via your personal account. Associates down the hall or across the globe may start throwing things up on your wall that force you to commingle your personal and professional “self” - there are no easy answers, other than to say you need to be aware of the upside, pitfalls, rewards, cool things that may happen (or not) by blurring you Social Media Self!

Social Media Etiquette on Twitter

Twitter is rapidly morphing to a Broadcast and Engagement Platform - it affords a wonderful opportunity for any individual to build a personal presence or business to build strong brand awareness and much more.

Just like Facebook, it’s important at the outset of staring your digital journey on Twitter to decide if your Social Media Strategy is to focus on a personal or business account - or both, many digerati have multiple accounts as well as businesses.

But, you need to integrate some personality to come across as being real on Twitter (like other Social Media Platforms) - throwing in some personal bon mots  is essential to building personality. Again, the lines can easily be blurred - be aware and Tweet accordingly.

Twitter Rules of the Road

  • Don’t Direct Message people unless you know them or “DM” them in Twitterspeak
  • RTs or ReTweets are the currency of the realm on Twitter - you show someone that you value their communications by RTing their Tweets. But do it judiciously.
  • Give credit where credit is due - many people copy URLs from other Tweets and push them out as their own; this is bad Ju Ju as they say on Treme Street in New Orleans - enough said.
  • It’s great to use the @LinkedMedia to push a Tweet to someone thanking them for a digital mention or to give them visibility via your Twitter Account.

A big thank you to all of our Readers, speaking of etiquette, we appreciate your following our Digital Muse! If you want to Follow us on Twitter www.Twitter/LinkedMedia

Best SEO Tools

At this juncture we are grizzled SEO Veterans and have the click scars to show for it! We were recently responded to a LinkedIn Question about “best of breed SEO tools” that are indispensable to us all. Here’s our short list - check back at a later date for a longer list.

1) Aaron Wall rocks the SEO world and anyone who disagrees with this sentiment would have to be on a distant planet. His Toolbar is one of the best SEO Tools in the world and his integrated training services and community are an excellent resource as well.  He has a freemium model - if you are new to SEO we’d strongly suggest signing up for all of his services.

2) SEOMoz has a suite of some of the Best SEO Tools and we recommend them as well. They have a number of free applications and paid tools and tutorials.

3) Market Samurai has an extremely powerful application and their technology is like jumping into an Aston Martin with a top ten Formula One driver - you better hang on for the ride.

The rivers deep, fast flowing and you have to spend some time getting your arms around this technology - it’s not for the faint of heart or the novice by any means. It’s much more than an SEO tool - will give you significant insight into your competitive position, keyword rankings, content sourcing and strategy, competitive analysis and much more.

4) We would be remiss if we didn’t touch on Google’s Aanlytics Program as one of the Best SEO Tools!  Yes, it’s the defacto industry standard - but 85% of most people who use it for Web Site Analytics have no idea of the raw power available. It’s inherent reporting and analysis tools alone are extremely powerful.

For example, we see far too many clients that worry about a ranking for those “all important” top tier Keywords who don’t understand the significant value and wonderful traffic generation (highly qualified) via Long Tail Keywords that can be found easily running basic reports via Google Analytics.

5) Compete is well worth the modest subscription fee required to really run a competitive analysis on a competitor’s site - their robust feature set has grown the last 12-24 months and we use them on a regular basis to monitor search and traffic rankings for client sites and direct competitors.

6) Get “Real Time Search” savvy!  If you are harvesting information on the web we would strongly recommend understanding how to do real time searches via Twitter and Google that are Keyword and Hashtag driven.

7) While you are looking at Organic Search Engine Rankings you may want to look at Pay Per Click to see what a competitor is doing here as well. SpyFu has a freemium model and their paid services are powerful, insightful and will save you a great deal of time setting up a Pay per Click campaign and monitoring what your competitors are doing.

8) Another everyman/everywoman best of breed SEO Tool is Wordtracker - it’s the Swiss Army Knife of Keyword Research and they’ve recently added Link Builder and Wordtracker Strategizer, two excellent modules that extend the functionality of their SaaS (Software as a Service) services. This UK based company has been around for ten plus years and we couldn’t say enough good things about them - great team of friendly and courteous Keyword Geeks par excellance.

So, that’s eight of our Best SEO Tools that we use and recommend - no animals were harmed during the writing of this blog post………….if you are a Mashable writer in residence feel free to mention us on the front page.

Value of Social Media Connections

Everyone is talking about Social Media Marketing today but no one has a real good handle of the value of a Social Media Connectors: Follower (Twitter), Fan (Facebook) or Check Ins (Gowalla).

We’ve seen valuations across the board that rate these social media digital entities or connections from under $5. to $300. This is ridiculous - how can you ascribe a number to a specific type of Social Media Digital Connection point - your dealing with moving targets, with shifting landscapes behind them.

Ad Rates Measurement

Some have tried to propose valuations based on  fancy formulas using spreadsheets (bet this went over well in the VC pitch sessions) about impression rates (CPM in Ad Speak) as being the best measurement tool, compounded by lifetime values, demographics, time of day, multiple visits, ancillary visitors/Friends or Followers, etc.   We won’t even bore you with the formulas, as we are in violent disagreement.

Just because Facebook charges an advertiser a $5-20 CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impression) rate to show ads on your account doesn’t mean you can extrapolate the number of Friends in some way to link to the Ad Rates in some linear fashion.

But, as soon as Twitter for example, starts pushing out sponsored Tweets  this will blow the smithereens out of any complex formula done today. And, trust me they will commoditize (to a certain extent) their networks in some way moving forward as they drive to revenue generation.

Bottom Line Social Media Value

So, where’s the bottom line value in Social Media Connections?  Our simple answer says its pretty easy to figure out. How much traffic did you generate for your site, what per centage of this traffic took some specific action (purchase, newsletter sign up, register for webinar, etc.) and how did they engage with your brand. Google Analytics will fill in this particular formula.

To understand some core metrics, review site bounce rates of individuals from specific Social Communities and Social Media Marketing Campaigns.  Yes, there’s great residual value created by referrals to others in a Followers community; but right now it’s hard to ascribe value to these entities with any real accuracy.

Your brand value, market segment and positioning also impact  the value of Social Media Connections. Here’s why: a  “Friend” on Facebook “connected” to Porsche is going to have much more value than one associated with Toyota - based on brand value, suggested retail price points and we hate to say it, the position of the brand in a moment in time.

The bottom line, value of Social Media Connections is a moving target, driven by market circumstance that may or not be driven by the brands uptrend or downtrend - BP or Toyota come to mind for the latter, with Apple for the former. These “big picture” items greatly impact the Value of Social Media Connections!

Ignore the hype - it all comes down to basic old school measurements (conversions, visitors, purchases). We need to ground the business more in basic ROI fundamentals in order to really help companies value  Social Media Marketing and Connections.

Please connect with us on Twitter or sign up for our Newsletter ………..see you on the grid!

Do Social Media Experts Exist?

This is a very simple question with a complex answer and I think there is real truth in all online discussions about this, even though there is inherent contradiction in comparing these answers.

I’ve been in online advertising for thirteen years and for the past three years much of my work with clients and/or managing a virtual team has involved concentration on baseline Social Media Marketing; i.e. Blog, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Bookmarking, Profile Development, Content Syndication, Analytics, etc.

Outliers are Experts

Would I claim to be an expert? I’m not sure but if you contrast my skill set (and my team’s) with what Malcom Gladwell has espoused in his Seminal Book “Outliers”.

I do have 10K (plus) hours of blood sweat and tears in online marketing, which certainly gives me a level of proficiency like tens of thousands of others who have helped to build the online advertising industry.

Social Media Moving at Warp Speed

I also agree with others, Social Media Marketing is moving at warp speed and it’s difficult to keep up with the tremendous advances in technology, processes, cross pollination/syndication, new platforms, companies, etc. Real Time Search is a good example of this - we are just now starting to understand how to factor this in to our marketing campaigns for clients.

Defining A Social Media Expert

Throwing up a Facebook, Twitter or Flickr accounts and sprinkling in Hub or Squidoo Pages is not a Social Media Expert in my book. The easy part in many cases is the Social Media Marketing - understanding how to quantify and complement this with Domain Strategy, SEO Best Practices, good solid Web Site Design, Content Development and Syndication, Blog Platform and Writing, PR, an understanding of Analytics and how to adjust Social Media & Online Marketing in real time ads significant value.

I think you have to dig below the surface to find real “experts” in the field and I disagree with Radian6 CEO’s recent statement about “there are no Social Media Experts.” That’s the wrong answer in response to the wrong question - many Social Media Experts are grizzled online advertising managers who were using CompuServe Accounts in the late 80′s and were on AOL when it was only a couple of hundred thousand users.

We all get lost in the sex and sizzle espoused by the latest PowerPoint presented at the hottest trade show and the herd rushes to embrace another discipline, platform, “expert” - etc. It’s the ongoing “celebrification” of Social Media Marketing, which is not a good thing.

What Companies Really Need

What companies really need are holistic digital practitioners who understand the big picture, have some technical skills and most importantly, can help a firm navigate through the choppy digital shark filled waters with a detailed marketing strategy that is flexible, customer driven and concentrates on such fundamental ROI measurements such as Leads, Traffic, Purchases, Downloads, Views, Newsletter Sign ups, etc.

Let’s not confuse motion with action - Social Media Marketing, whether it’s driven by “Experts” or anyone for that matter doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Yes, the field is new and there is no shortage of folks on Twitter claiming to be experts who aren’t - there are (again) tens of thousands of great marketers who have a good feel for the medium and more importantly, how to integrate Social Media with other disciplines.

In this challenging global economy we need marketers who can help companies define strategy and tactical implementation - enabling them to get to market with the right product at the right price through the right channels - let’s not get lost in terminology and finger pointing. Let’s help each other…….