I’ve been in the search marketing business for nearly five years now, and in that time period the organic search marketing and SEO industry in general have both completely changed. SEO used to be about figuring out how to make Google think you were more authoritative and popular by getting inbound links all over the web, creating authority back to your website. Often, this led to a lot of a businesses being viewed as more popular than they actually were, and often SEO was being conducted on shady site after shady site. And it was easy. Too easy, in fact. And because it was so effective, it led to SEOs sticking with what worked and essentially gaming the system because it was painless — and because Google couldn’t understand the manipulation very well.
That day has changed.
The search marketing world has evolved so much in recent years that an SEO from 2009 would barely recognize it as the same industry as it stands today. While there are still best practices of on-page SEO that will probably always hold true – such as making sure title tags, meta descriptions, headers and images are optimized – the art and science of off-page SEO is dramatically different.
Very few off-page SEO tactics are the same today as they were five years ago. Link building, while still incredibly valuable, requires significantly more work. Not only does it require the production and publication of original, compelling content, but the outreach and posting process is more difficult as guest blogging and contributions are being reviewed very carefully by Google. Unlike five years ago, today’s SEO also involves a very social aspect for ranking well. Social mentions of your business online, reputation, reviews and the value a business brings to others are paramount metrics for getting great rankings in search results.
The Shift from SEO to CVO
Today, the most savvy inbound marketers are making a change centered around one concept: optimizing and providing value for the searchers themselves, as opposed to optimizing for search engines. Off-page SEO has moved from optimization for search engines and “spiders” to optimization for real readers and live people. In fact, at Lift Division, we no longer focus on what search engines want at all. We focus on what real people or searchers want to consume… which is value.
If I had my druthers, my inbound marketing peers would stop referring to the term SEO for off-page SEO at all. Unfortunately, most business owners are just starting to understand the concept of SEO, so I’m afraid changing the term may just end up confusing everyone. Regardless, I strongly believe we have moved beyond optimizing for search engines as an industry... at least for the savvy marketers. In fact, I believe we should strongly consider using the term consumer value optimization — because that’s what we’re doing with today’s off-page SEO, right? We’re hired by our clients to create optimal value for their consumer, and to organically pull in new leads and clients through their doors.
Think About It
Google is in the business of showing the best possible results to the searcher, right? They want you to keep coming back to their search engine, so naturally they must continue to deliver exceptional search results. In an objective sense, in order to rank higher in Google, simply leverage what you already know to define your digital marketing strategy. If you’re the most knowledgeable business owner in your location/industry, then prove it. Put your expertise online with a robust content marketing strategy, raise money for charity and spread the word, or aggregate positive reviews. After all of this, watch visitors flock to the value you’re providing.
Because let’s face it: We know Google’s business model revolves around finding the best companies for what you’re searching for. So why, then, would Google rank your business higher than others? What are you doing to make a mark? Are you providing value to your audience with compelling content on your blog? Is your team helping raise money for charity? Have you been published in news articles for great work you’ve done? How many positive reviews do you have? How much value do you bring to others? These, as well as a wealth of content on and linking to your website, are all vital components in Google’s ranking algorithm.
Content Truly Is King
Lift Division moved our offices across from the University of Missouri School of Journalism for one primary reason. We know that content truly is king when it comes to online marketing, and we know that producing great content with the help of the brightest journalism school students in the country would provide great value to our clients. Ultimately, this translates into more value for their customers, more conversions for our clients, and a wider client base to develop stronger relationships with. When it comes to effective marketing, content-based CVO is a win-win-win for all parties involved.