Website marketing for 2013: Is SEO still SEO?

Recently I’ve had quite a few clients asking new questions about search engine optimisation (SEO). I must admit that after 15 years of designing, building and promoting websites I do tend to spit the term out without comprehending that it may mean different things to different people. Just like the web, internet marketing is ever evolving. A quick glance online indicates that there are numerous new views about SEO and the best way to tackle recent changes to search engine algorithms, not to mention the growing potential of social media marketing.

Is SEO still SEO?There is absolutely no doubt that SEO is changing. I’ve seen articles recently that question if the term “SEO” is dead. Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Webspam, recently asked if SEO should be given a new name. Ultimately SEO as a phrase is not dead, I don’t believe it needs a new name and it’s never going to go away. However, with an eye on truly effective website marketing, and in the context of the ever changing world wide web, I believe that SEO should only ever be mentioned as part of a greater whole. This is a key change (particularly post Penguin and Panda).

“Search engine optimisation” has often been thrown around as a term that summarises website marketing. Effective marketing of websites has never related to doing just one thing however. So what should SEO be bundled with for 2013? Well I think that at the most basic level you can’t promote a website without all the following:

  1. Traditional search engine optimisation
  2. Natural link building (“natural” seems to be the new “organic”)
  3. Social media integration and marketing
  4. Content marketing

Obviously the above elements can all be considered organic, and there are paid solutions that can provide instant rewards, however, I’m only looking at non-paid long-term marketing solutions in this post.

SEO itself requires the ongoing analysis of website metrics, keyword analysis and search engine performance of site pages. Are people staying on a website long enough? Are a healthy number of users returning to the website? Are there individual pages that could perform better? Where do web pages feature in search engine results for a given number of search terms? Are those search terms accurate or could they be improved? The questions are endless, but these are all queries that need to be addressed on an ongoing basis and dealt with using a consistent strategy. However, if you carry out this type of SEO work and don’t bother with link building, social media marketing and improving your content, then your website will never perform well in search engines.

To get the best out of your site you must combine all four elements: ongoing SEO, continued natural link building, rolling social media integration and regular content development that has been planned in advance. These days content is at the heart of all this; get your content marketing strategy right and it makes everything else a lot easier. How? Great content gives you more to optimise and an increased spread of keywords for users to find when searching. Net result: improved chance of more site traffic. Inspiring content will interest people, make them stay on your website longer and give them a reason to come back. Net result: improved website metrics and more repeat visitors. Unique content increases the chances of people mentioning your website on social media platforms. Net result: free social marketing by word of mouth. Trustworthy and authoritative content means it’s easier to obtain links from other websites, plus webmasters and bloggers will be more likely to choose to link to your site without needing to be asked. Net result: more inbound links for less effort.

For me, SEO isn’t dead and doesn’t need a new name. SEO is what it is, search engine optimisation. However, if you’re planning website SEO for 2013, consider that the most effective use of search engine optimisation is when it is combined with natural link building, social media integration and content marketing. What’s more, get your content marketing strategy right, and link building, social media integration and SEO all become that much easier.

Fusiliers Museum of Northumberland website design

Fusiliers Museum of Northumberland, Alnwick
Designing the logo for the Fusilers Museum of Northumberland was a real privilege; so it is especially rewarding to be able to advise that the new website  launched today. The colour scheme, style, design and graphical elements were all very much inspired by visits to the museum, the tradition of the regiment and wealth of history that is on display in the Abbot’s Tower at Alnwick Castle.

To raise curiosity and to encourage a visit to the museum, the site design makes use of several randomised elements; each page loading a range of exhibits, photos, facts and snippets of information. As a charity, the museum needs financial aid to operate, so it was important to promote the need for support too. After photographing the displays and items at the museum (a lot of which were very personal and told their own unique story of war), one piece really stood out; a food tin that an ingenious soldier had turned into a mug. This item features on every page of the site, along side a request for support and a donation; a simple thing on it’s own, but compelling nonetheless.

And the feedback from the client: “Wow! Very pleased indeed with the concept. I think it’s excellent. The design and imagery are tremendous.”

Frozen fields

I went for a walk along the old abandoned Duns to Greenlaw railway line yesterday. As a result of all the recent rain, a huge swath of this field was underwater. The cold nights had frozen the flood waters a peculiar milky white colour, and in the bright full sun of the early morning the distant ridge eerily looked like a misplaced sand dune.