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The future of SEO?

For the last two years, the field of search engine optimization has been largely fueled by keywords and their rankings. It’s all about getting on the first page. However, last month, Google announced that they will not be providing over 80% of keywords that site traffic come from, making the job of internet marketers such as ourselves quite difficult.

However it is important to realize that the Internet is thriving, and therefore online marketing is also alive and well. There is a lot of value to websites beyond ranking keywords, and now Google is rewarding sites that focus on important topics such as design, content and authority. Now that keywords are not provided, in order to rank highly in search results, it is more important than ever to become an authority on the topic or product your business is selling.

In SEO, the new goal is to drive traffic to pages by being a source of authority, and not just based on keywords alone. Now it is important to create quality content in the form of copy, blog posts and images and promote the content to interested audiences through social media. It also helps to develop relationships with other sites or bloggers that are influencers on your topic and think of ways you can work together to create more content.

As for design, it is more important than ever to have a technically-savvy site that is both visually savvy and a source of great content. It should be easy for all search engines to load. It should also be easy for people to navigate your site and learn information from it. There should also be links to social media profiles if applicable so that people can refer to them as reference to how others view your company. These profiles can also rank highly in search engine results as representative of your company.

Therefore, the future of SEO lies not in keywords but with content and becoming a source of authority on your chosen topic.

What social networks are best for my small business?

Social networks are here to stay; there is no doubt about that. Social media is an important part of any marketing strategy and a great way to engage customers, build loyalty and outreach to new leads. As a small business owner, you may be wondering which networks are most appropriate for you. Below we’ve listed some of the most popular social networks and how they can represent your company or brand on-line

Facebook

With 900 million users worldwide, it’s hard to argue that a having a Facebook presence is a bad idea. Around 50% of people in the U.S. have Facebook account, so there is a great chance that you can reach out to potential customers via this social network. Create a fan page for your company and share photos, news, updates and other critical information. Also ask questions to actively engage your customers and encourage them to comment to start a two-way conversation. Facebook Advertising is also a great tool to build likes, grow your community and generate leads. With the updated Timeline, Facebook is also a great tool for branding as you can show the entire history of company with pictures, milestones and events.

Twitter

Twitter is best for real-time updates, and instant feedback from customers. With Twitter, you can write short, 140-character messages to create buzz on your company or product. Twitter is great for announcements, news, promotions and resolving customer service issues quickly.

Google+

Google is the most popular search engine tool on the Internet, so it is very important to also have a presence on its social network. Although Google+ is young, its relation to search engine giant Google makes it very important for businesses that want high SEO rankings. According to SEO Moz, there is a correlation with +1s and higher search rankings. Further, if your business has a location relevant to your services, it is important to be on Google+ Local so that you can highlight customer reviews and ratings.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the social network for professionals. It’s used most often for job networking, information and leads. LinkedIn is a great way to introduce yourself to key people in an industry. You can also show your expertise through discussions on LinkedIn Groups. If your company is in the B2B business, being on LinkedIn is crucial to your success.

Instagram

If your product is very visual, Instagram is a great social network for advertising. Photos can be treated with unique filters for a whole new perspective on engagement. Hashtags coupled with photos can also be great tools for promotions and contests.

YouTube

YouTube is another Google property that has an important part in your SEO strategy. YouTube videos are often ranked quite highly in search rankings, so if your product has a video demonstration, it is likely to be seen by those searching. Also, many creative videos have the potential to go viral quickly on this social network. You can also make video testimonials including your satisfied customers.

Pinterest

This new social network is very popular among women of 18-65. If your customer demographic includes women, this highly visual bookmarking tool would be a great way to display graphic content and share information such as recipes, fashion tips and more.

Tumblr

Many mistake Tumblr for just another blog; but it’s about the visuals rather than writing or articles. If you have a lot of visual content, memes or video, Tumblr is a great tool for sharing viral content.

By ST8 Creative

Social networks are here to stay; there is no doubt about that. Social media is an important part of any marketing strategy and a great way to engage customers, build loyalty and outreach to new leads. As a small business owner, you may be wondering which networks are most appropriate for you. Below we’ve listed some of the most popular social networks and how they can represent your company or brand on-line

Facebook

With 900 million users worldwide, it’s hard to argue that a having a Facebook presence is a bad idea. Around 50% of people in the U.S. have Facebook account, so there is a great chance that you can reach out to potential customers via this social network. Create a fan page for your company and share photos, news, updates and other critical information. Also ask questions to actively engage your customers and encourage them to comment to start a two-way conversation. Facebook Advertising is also a great tool to build likes, grow your community and generate leads. With the updated Timeline, Facebook is also a great tool for branding as you can show the entire history of company with pictures, milestones and events.

Twitter

Twitter is best for real-time updates, and instant feedback from customers. With Twitter, you can write short, 140-character messages to create buzz on your company or product. Twitter is great for announcements, news, promotions and resolving customer service issues quickly.

Google+

Google is the most popular search engine tool on the Internet, so it is very important to also have a presence on its social network. Although Google+ is young, its relation to search engine giant Google makes it very important for businesses that want high SEO rankings. According to SEO Moz, there is a correlation with +1s and higher search rankings. Further, if your business has a location relevant to your services, it is important to be on Google+ Local so that you can highlight customer reviews and ratings.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the social network for professionals. It’s used most often for job networking, information and leads. LinkedIn is a great way to introduce yourself to key people in an industry. You can also show your expertise through discussions on LinkedIn Groups. If your company is in the B2B business, being on LinkedIn is crucial to your success.

Instagram

If your product is very visual, Instagram is a great social network for advertising. Photos can be treated with unique filters for a whole new perspective on engagement. Hashtags coupled with photos can also be great tools for promotions and contests.

YouTube

YouTube is another Google property that has an important part in your SEO strategy. YouTube videos are often ranked quite highly in search rankings, so if your product has a video demonstration, it is likely to be seen by those searching. Also, many creative videos have the potential to go viral quickly on this social network. You can also make video testimonials including your satisfied customers.

Pinterest

This new social network is very popular among women of 18-65. If your customer demographic includes women, this highly visual bookmarking tool would be a great way to display graphic content and share information such as recipes, fashion tips and more.

Tumblr

Many mistake Tumblr for just another blog; but it’s about the visuals rather than writing or articles. If you have a lot of visual content, memes or video, Tumblr is a great tool for sharing viral content.

The Marriage of Search & Social Marketing is Upon Us

This write-up from Search Engine Land is really something. The marriage of search engine marketing and social media marketing. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Both marketing efforts are dependent upon producing quality content…it’s about time they got together. After reading this article, Ask us about our Search & Social Marketing package.

“The search and social graphs have made giant strides in the recent past. Even two years ago, people were skeptical about the relationship between search and social media. Fast-forward to 2013, and we are now faced with a complex and large search and social ecosystem that offers a world of opportunity to SEO marketers while transforming their role.

Several forces are behind this transformation. The relationship between social and search has changed. Social is now also being consumed locally and in multiple formats such as video.

Social engagement is becoming more dependent on quality content and the relationship between social and mobile, making it essential that marketers dig deeper into search, social, local and mobile data to understand how it can impact rankings.

Today, I would like to focus on five key developments that have fueled this rapid change while in parallel, sharing data and results from the BrightEdge 2013 Search Marketer Survey that was sent to over 4,500 brands and provided insight into how marketers are leveraging the change in the search and social media relationship in 2013. (Disclosure: I’m the founder and CEO of BrightEdge.)

1.  Social Media Data Fuels Most Of Big Data Growth

Social media comes in multiple data formats. In my last article, I talked about the importance of Big Data and it’s relationship with search marketing. Over the last two years, 90%of global data has been produced by digital and social content.

The adoption of smartphones and tablets, and generation of location data primarily drive the growth of social data. A breakdown of how this forms part of the big data picture is highlighted below:

from “Big Data In Small Pieces – Facebook Graph Search” by Andy Betts

2.  Growing Relationship Between Social Signals, Rank & Content

To get a sense of the magnitude of the opportunity when it comes to tapping social networks as a channel for sharing content, it is useful to look at the following statistics:

•1 billion Facebook users

•200 million Twitter users

•200 million LinkedIn users

•135 million active users on Google+

•3.3 billion pieces of content shared on Facebook each month

•5 billion Google +1’s a day

Source – 2012 Internet in numbers

Social signals do impact rankings. Google CEO Larry Page said as much in his speech at Zeitgeist Americas. Of course, there are challenges in search engines gaining access to social signals that may not be publicly available. However, signals like +1s and Tweets do influence which pages are most relevant for keyword searches.

Danny Sullivan articulates the importance of social signals in search, especially Google Plus:

Anybody who cares about ranking well on Google absolutely needs to be using Google Plus. It’s so integrated with everything that they’re doing, and we can see that it can have some direct relations now as well. It’s stunning to me that people still don’t do that, and I think the people who are doing it now are going to be well ahead of others.

Social media marketers now have a huge opportunity to impact SEO, improve search rankings, and increase revenue generated through organic search. Focusing on the content of social media activities to uncover the exact areas that will boost SEO and offer actionable recommendations to increase visibility on search engines is becoming a key priority for search marketers

Over 80% of search marketer respondents from the BrightEdge survey stated that in 2013, they will focus more on social media as a productive channel to improve rank. The more the search and social teams work together, the greater the synergies in terms of rankings and sharable content. What is shared ranks, and what ranks is shared.

Moreover, content related to social engagement is the most important type of content that marketers are prioritizing in 2013. Seventy-eight percent (78%)  of the marketers surveyed stated that they will be focusing on this in 2013.

3.  Rise In Correlation Between Social Sharing & Search Performance

Understanding the exact correlation between social sharing of your pages and rank is growing in importance. It is essential, as marketers further integrate social media and SEO strategies.

Identifying this correlation and analyzing the content being shared helps marketers reinforce what’s working while adjusting social sharing activities that do not have a positive correlation.

Measuring and managing this correlation is proven to work. TinyPrints saw a 47% increase in rankings by integrating its organic search and Twitter strategies based on a clear understanding of this correlation.

At a conceptual level, this is about integrating SEO metrics with Social data. While the above discussion is about using Social for the benefit of SEO, the converse is valuable, too. I had discussed this in my earlier post, Take Twitter Campaigns To The Next Level With SEO Data.

Social media marketers trying to engage users on Twitter can utilize synergy with their SEO counterparts to:

1.Understand which topics (keywords) tracked on the SEO side are trending on Twitter

2.Identify existing pages/content already mapped to these keywords from an SEO perspective

3.Share these pages through Tweets that contain the language (keywords) used to describe the trending topics.

4.  Search, Social, Local & Mobile Are More Intertwined Than Ever

According to Google, 20 percent of all Google searches have local intent and 40 percent of Google mobile searches have local intent.  The phenomenal growth of local and mobile search and usage has meant that in order to innovate and optimize for mobile search, understanding local search is vital in 2013.

Over 75% of search marketers surveyed stated that that optimizing for local search will be more important this year.

What’s more:

•Mobile accounts for 13% of all global Internet traffic

•Over 1.3 exabytes of global mobile data traffic was generated per month in 2012.

•There are over 1.1 billion global smartphone subscribers

•There are over 5 billion mobile phone users

Hence:

Mobile & Tablet Search Optimization Is A Key Priority In 2013

As marketers optimize for local and more and more people access local information via mobile and tablet,s we have seen an increase in focus on optimizing for multiple device types.

Eighty-eight percent (88%) of search marketers from the BrightEdge survey stated that optimizing their site for mobile phones and tablets will be more important this year. This will generate even greater volumes of social data for search marketer to take advantage of.

As with desktop search, many marketers now look at mobile data and rankings to see how their own campaigns and their competitors’ are performing, and how that ties into their Web analytics.

With tablets, there will be different conversion metrics, different keywords to optimize for, and other considerations. For example, Adobe, a client and BrightEdge partner, produced the visual below on optimizing for tablets.

5.  Innovation In Search & The Social Graph Is Progressing Rapidly

Facebook’s launch of Graph Search signifies the fusion of data and social innovation. Facebook Graph Search allows you to search and be presented with results based on your personal social graph (Likes and connections). The information you are served from Facebook’s Big Data set is relevant to what your friends and connections like, and SEOs will adapt accordingly.

Depending on marketer goals for social engagement, different marketing organizations prioritize different social media channels. Looking at the survey results, we can see that Facebook and Google+ are key areas of focus for the search and social marketer this year.

Conclusion

2012 saw a rapid increase in the amount of search and social data that we use. The growth of local and mobile search has fueled the accessing and sharing of this data. In 2013, marketers are focusing on hybrid, content-driven search, social and mobile media campaigns and innovating in line with the rise of local search and social graph development.

Keeping pace with change is key challenge, but also, as the survey data suggests, a key opportunity for the search marketer this year.”

Adapting to Exponential Technologies

One of our clients, Peter Diamandis, touches on the advantage small entrepreneurial businesses have over large corporations when it comes to adapting to new technologies. Peter says, “Exponential technologies are causing such a disruptive force, changing at a rate so rapidly, that the large lumbering companies are unable to keep up.” So to all the little guys out there, take heart! Your nimbleness and smallness is your advantage, because you can keep up with the rate of change.

Is a funny, famous female the formula for viral content? Maybe not, but it sure helps.

Facebook’s most recent “feel good viral story” “Two Girls and a Puppy” has got us thinking about the nature of viral content. If you’re not hip to the story: 2 little girls begged their Dad for a puppy until he jokingly agreed that if they could get 1 million ‘likes’ on Facebook, they could get a puppy. It didn’t take more than a few hours for puppy loving social media users everywhere to ‘like’ their page 1 Million times. Was it the power of puppies that pushed their page into viral history, or was it something else? While there is no formula for posting viral content, there are a few proven guidelines that seem to help. Our friends over at SEOMoz just published a blog post that details what type of content goes viral and why. In a nutshell:

Write long, in-depth posts. A detailed, in-depth post indicates thoroughness and thoughtfulness. It tells the reader that the author cares about the topic enough to spend ample time researching and writing about it. 2 University of Pennsylvania professors looked at the New York Times’ most emailed list to see if they could determine what caused people to share an article. They found that word count was more closely correlated with sharing than any other variable examined. This isn’t exactly relevant to our puppy post, but valuable nonetheless.

Inspire anger, awe, or anxiety. Content that inspires high-energy emotions is far more likely to be shared. If you are angry about a topic, write about it. If you are amazed by something, write about it. If you are anxious for something, write about it. If you are sad about something, don’t write about it. Content that inspires low-energy emotions like sadness is less likely to be shared, according to the SEOMoz post.

Prove you care. This is related to your writing style. If you write like a robot with no emotions, nobody will share it. Piggybacking off the “inspire anger, awe, or anxiety” point, make sure that your writing style shows how passionate you are. Readers will feed off your passion, but they can only feel it through the way your content is written.

Practically useful, surprising, and interesting. This comes as no surprise, but content that is surprising, interesting and practically useful receives more shares than boring stuff. This is a no brainer, but it’s interesting to see which of these inspires more sharing:

2013 in terms of Search, Social, Mobile & P

2012 proved to be a real trip for those involved in the world of digital marketing, which we most certainly are. Between Google’s consistent algorithm updates, the unflinching rise of mobile, the marriage of search + social, and every online marketing expert getting a “content marketing” tattoo on their face, there is a lot to reflect upon. But as we reflect we are also looking forward because the nature of the digital world doesn’t slow down or take a break, it mercilessly and progressively moves forward, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Search – Tomorrow, 1/3/13, marks the 17 year anniversary of the phrase “content is king.” No doubt you are familiar with the phrase, but perhaps not the context in which it was introduced. Bill Gates wrote an article on January 3rd, 1996, titled‘Content is King‘, which touched on his first assumptions of how the web would handle the massive portal of content it made available. I wonder if Bill knew his phrase would ring true almost 20 years later as SEOs and online marketers alike fight for top placement on the almighty Google SERPs…

Anyway, as Google rolled out their Penguin and Panda updates in 2012, a seismic shift in the way we view SEO was introduced. Content really has become king, in terms of your website’s relevance/authority online. Google puts an extremely high value on genuinely interesting content that is shared through social networks, blogs, etc..If you are producing this type of content, you are more than likely experiencing growth online, specifically in terms of search and social metrics. These updates birthed the new idea of link earning rather than link building, a notion that is widely accepted as best practice in the SEM community.

As we welcome 2013 with open arms, we will consider the excitement and opportunities the new year holds for search marketers. There are plenty of articles and posts surrounding what search engine marketing will mean in 2013. As a general summary, see Search Engine Watch’s Critical Components to SEO Success in 2013 and SEOmoz’s 10 Predictions for Inbound Marketing in 2013.

Social – Social media marketing is a blurry term for most. Actually, for many SMBs, it’s not even blurry, its just a blob they can’t quite figure out. The broad nature of the term encompasses any branded social action taken online…how vague. However vague this term appears though, for those who’ve mastered it, there are endless benefits. 2012 brought to our attention the marriage of social media and search marketing. In other words, Google and other search engines started taking notice of the value of a brand’s social media presence in terms of relevancy/authority and rewarded this presence with better rankings. It makes sense if you think about it. A brand who is fostering valuable relationships with their consumers online must have some sort of relevance and authority within their niche, so why shouldn’t they be rewarded for it?

As this marriage blossoms into a beneficial relationship for brands, we should consider what 2013 will bring in terms of social media marketing. Social Media Examiner’s 21 Social Media Predictions for 2013 From the Pros is a great list, as well as this awesome infographic from Twin Engine:

social-media-marketing-takes-flight

Mobile – If you had any doubts about the rise of mobile strategy for brands, put them to rest. When Google comes out with a “Mobile Playbook“ for companies looking to learn and master mobile marketing, you know its real. Mobile marketing is the central focus for a growing number of marketers, as 87% say they are planning to increase their emphasis on mobile in 2013. Also, mobile local advertising was forecast to reach $24 billion in 2016. Search Engine Watch’s article, The New Mobile SEO Strategy, highlights some interesting points regarding mobile & SEO tactics as the new year rolls in. In terms of the future, The Mobile Marketing Conference website says that Mobile Marketing is projected to exceed all others as the most influential advertising medium of all time in the near future.

Public Relations – It’s been interesting to watch the relationship between PR and SEO grow. As SEO made the inevitable shift into content marketing, PR became increasingly relevant and important. The idea of ‘corporate storytelling’ emerges as a PR must in 2013 in order to create great content. In turn, this content is shared and your SEO efforts are boosted. The synergy between PR and SEO can have fantastic benefits for brands who are fully taking advantage of this. Search Engine Watch’s article, 10 Reasons Why Public Relations is a ‘Must-do’ for SEO in 2013 gives a great description of this relationship.

2013 is here, and it’s bringing a whole slew of online possibilities for brands to grow and connect with their consumers. We are proud and excited to be helping brands grow online, and we look forward to a fantastic year ahead!

Coca-Cola Content 2020 – A Whiteboard Masterpiece

Coca-Cola explains how they will take advantage of opportunities in the new media landscape where content is king. These 2 videos detail how the company will move forward from creative excellence to content excellence. This content will emphasize a commitment to making the world a better place, at the same time driving business objectives for the company.

Enjoy the compelling story Coke’s Jonathan Mildenhall, VP Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence, tells as it is complimented by incredible whiteboard artwork. Overall, this makes for a very worthwhile 17 minutes…

Part 1

Part 2

Coca-Cola explains how they will take advantage of opportunities in the new media landscape where content is king. These 2 videos detail how the company will move forward from creative excellence to content excellence. This content will emphasize a commitment to making the world a better place, at the same time driving business objectives for …

Link Earning is the New Link Building

Here is a great video post by our friends over at SEOMoz. With Google’s recent algorithm updates it has never been more important to earn links directly with relevant content rather than building them in the more traditional sense. Rand says, “You can earn links very, very directly if you create the kind of content that you know someone wants to share, wants to link to, would embed, would write about or blog about, include in their press or their research or in something that says something nice about them.”

2012 Adobe Design Achievement Awards Winning Work

5,000 entries from 70 countries. 41 finalist narrowed down to 16 winners. Needless to say, the 12th annual Adobe Design Achievement Awards (ADAA) provided an incredible amount of stunning student work to browse.

Judging panel member Fernanda Saboia, creative director at Brazilian creative agency Tatil Design, said, “Students’ accessibility to technology gives them so much freedom to test, experiment and really take risks in their efforts to create something very original. It is so beneficial for students to get recognition like this at the beginning of their career as it gives them the confidence to continue to innovate and push the boundaries of self-expression.”

Here are a few of our favorites:

Motion Graphics Winner, Michael Rigley

Heart Lift from ADAA Gallery on Vimeo.

See the ADAA’s full gallery here.

Read more: Digital Arts Online

17.59 Quadrillion Calculations per Second? The Power of Titan, the Supercomputer.

A new vocab word for you: Petaflop. A Petaflop is one quadrillion calculations per second.

Oak Ridge National Lab’s Titan supercomputer is capable of performing 17.59 petaflops per second. As incredible as that sounds, it’s hard to wrap your brain around exactly what these supercomputer’s are calculating at these outrageous speeds.

“Titan is part of a trend in supercomputing to mix graphical processor units with general purpose chips in order to max-out system performance,” says Wired Magazine. I’m still lost, so I went searching elsewhere for another answer.

I found a helpful article at ExtremeTech.com titled, What Can You Do With a Supercomputer? Check it out:

“For the most part, supercomputing is used to model simulations or perform brute force calculations. Supercomputers are research tools. Historically this was weather forecasting and aerodynamics, then nuclear weapons simulations and radiation shielding modeling, and in recent years the emphasis has been on cracking decryption and molecular dynamics modeling.”

Oak Ridge says it will use Titan to crunch numbers for computer simulations studying energy, climate change and materials. Read more in Oak Ridge National’s official press release here.

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