Google SEO Update: Your Website MUST Be Mobile-Friendly & How Squarespace Might Help

Having Your Website Be Mobile-Friendly Is No Longer Optional

I’ve been writing about how important mobile-friendly websites are for almost two years. Between smartphones and tablets, my website is seeing almost 20% of its traffic come from mobile devices. Industry standard is more like 30% and often more. That should be reason enough to make sure that your site is optimized for “the mobile experience.”Mobile-friendly websites are no longer

However, now, there’s another major reason to address this issue. Google has just announced (in a relatively unprecedented manner, i.e. in advance) that within the new search engine algorithm update that’s coming on April 21st, 2015, “we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal… (and it) will have a significant impact in our search results.” 

In other words, beyond not being user-friendly to mobile browsers, your website will very likely LOSE web traffic if it is not mobile-friendly. And, this change in search results will be most dramatic among those searching and finding your website via mobile devices.

But none of us wants to lose ANY visitors, do we?

Are You Ready for Mobile-Friendliness and Mobile Search?

There is no single approach to having your website become mobile-friendly. And, the bad news is that most approaches add cost and complexity. The exception is turnkey systems like Squarespace.

Overall, your approach to mobile-friendliness will vary depending on your website authoring and delivery platform, and this is a moving target that few small businesses understand.

If you are using WordPress, for example, there are themes that are “responsive” which means their layout varies depending on the width of the device being used to view the site. This is a good thing, and that’s the way that our ComBridges.com website is currently done. It works, but there can be complications. For example, when you update content or want to make layout changes of almost any kind, you must consider how those changes will look in mobile. It’s an easy thing to overlook, but if you are committed to WordPress, then for many small businesses, responsive is the way to go.

Another approach is to build your website with “mobile first” within the architecture of its construction using CSS components from the ground up (including a custom theme if you are using WordPress). For example, I’m currently supervising design and production of a website pro bono for a large non-profit and I’m very pleased with the results of this approach. It looks great on mobile and on the desktop, but this approach does add significantly to the cost of the site. And, it’s really only viable for new websites or a complete redesign. Because of their limited resources, few small businesses want to make that kind of investment.

And, some businesses actually do a separate version of their website for mobile viewers, sometimes using a mobile plug-in and sometimes a separate app. While this can optimize “the mobile experience,” this also means maintaining a separate version of the site. So, every time you do an update of any magnitude, you have to update the mobile version; thus, the cost for maintaining this kind of website increases. Again, not so good for small businesses with limited resources.

But, there is a low cost solution that is as bullet-proof as any technology will allow…

Squarespace to the Rescue

Recently, I’ve been doing more and more websites for small businesses using Squarespace. I like the simplicity of the system, the elegance of the templates, and now, mobile-friendliness is another key benefit. As Squarespace explains in this 2013 blog post, Mobile Is a Big Deal… Why Isn’t Your Website?:

“Comprehensive website solutions like Squarespace do all the work for you by providing templates that are designed with beautiful, functional mobile use in mind.”

The trade offs are that there are far fewer templates on Squarespace than there are WordPress themes and not all of the bells and whistles features, but most. So, if you agree with me that the templates that Squarespace does have are elegant and modern, then one advantage that you get is that you know your website is built from the ground up (like a more custom mobile site) with mobile-friendliness in mind. And, as you go forward, you can rest assured (within reasonable limits) that your website updates will not break the template or theme, another blessing of operating within a closed system.

Other Actions You Can Take to Address the Google SEO Update

No matter what approach you decide to take, there’s no doubt in my mind that being mobile-friendly is no longer an option. Your organization needs to look good on mobile devices for both mobile browsers and, now, for Google and the other search engines.

No matter how you proceed, I highly recommend you (or your web master) check out this post from Search Engine Land which offers a very practical set of steps you can take to assess and improve your website’s mobile status, starting with a free test. As they say in their post’s title, “Take These 3 Actions To Get Ready For Google’s Mobile Search Update.”

Here’s the “1, 2, 3” bottom line:

  1. Identify & Improve Your Mobile Web Optimization Status including use of Google’s free “Mobile-Friendly Test” tool. Click here to get a mobile-friendly assessment of any webpage.
  2. Assess Your Mobile Web Search Visibility & Traffic Behavior
  3. Establish Your Mobile Web Search Competitiveness & Monitor Your Performance

Tech-savvy details for this kind of evaluation are included in that post.

Done-For-You vs Done-WITH-You

And, for those of you who may not have heard, if you are interested in a Squarespace website, ComBridges is pioneering a collaborative process we call “1-to-1 Get It Done Websites.” It saves money and time. Please click here to learn more about this innovative approach.

And thanks for reading!

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Thanks in part to all the blog comment spammers, comments are turned off on this blog (at least for now). However, PLEASE, I would LOVE to hear from you, including any comments, criticisms, suggestions or whatever, via any of the social networks linked at the very top of this page. Thanks.[/alert]

Learn How Compelling Visual Content Can Increase Your Social Media Marketing ROI

In a blog post over two years ago (see Social Media Goes Visual: Why Pinterest is More Than You Think), I started calling the next frontier of social media marketing, “The Visual Web. This morning, I extended this conversation with a Google Hangout interview with Ekaterina Walter, the author of “The Power of Visual Storytelling.” Here’s that 30 minute conversation:

Fundamentally, humans are predominantly visual creatures, and according to a study from National Formosa University in Taiwan, this is reflected in our computer environments—especially in this age of social media!

Bottom line, you may produce the most compelling written content for your business blog and social media marketing efforts, but if you don’t have the right visual content to make it more engaging, you may never see decent conversion rates.

Here are some basic tips (with more to come) as to how to effectively use visual content to engage readers and get a better ROI:

Vary Your Media

To effectively promote content in social media, mix up what kind of visual content you’re using.

  • Photos. Whether you’re using your own photographs, stock photography or a digital vector, you’re going to need a relevant image(s) to go along with your content. Case in point: Marketing blogger Jeff Bullas reports that articles with images get 94 percent more views, and on Facebook, photos get 84 percent more click-throughs than their counterpart text-based posts, according to Kissmetrics. Failing to add a photo can mean a major loss of conversion. Also, let’s face it—the article just looks nicer with an image or two.
  • Video. Integrating video into your social media campaign not only grabs people’s attention, but it helps you stand out as an authority in your field. To create customized video about your area of expertise, use a marketing service like ComBridges or just shoot and upload via YouTube, or use Google Hangouts On-Air as I have done above. If you simply need royalty-free stock video, try a site like Shutterstock.
  • Animated GIFs. Sites like Buzzfeed, Distractify and Tumblr use animated GIFs frequently. These sites get shares into the tens of thousands and views into the millions. With the widespread use of broadband, these kinds of images are far more high-tech and user-friendly than they used to be. They’re a great way to market pop culture events or tutorials without requiring the user to watch a video. If you’re trying to get a quick point across, use a GIF.
  • Infographics. Your target audience may not want to read a wall of text. Instead, offer them quick and easily accessible information (with credible sources) in the form of a visually engaging infographic. In fact, infographics have become so popular in recent years, you can search for just about any topic you’re interested in followed by the word “infographic,” and chances are, there is one available.

And all of this is just the beginning. In future posts, I’ll write more about things like Instagram, Pinterest, SlideShare and more. Please subscribe via the links above to be notified.

Keep Color Psychology in Mind

Because “The Visual Web” is all about graphics and images, color is key. Color sets off certain signals in your brain, even if you’re not aware of it. For example, the color red is exciting and stimulating, while blue is considered calming and trustworthy. Take a look at different business logos and advertisements as you’re driving down the street. Note what kind of an emotional appeal they have for you. Use this same type of approach in your social media efforts. Depending on the emotional response you want to convey, choose your imagery and colors within the content carefully. Visual.ly has a great infographic on the psychology of color that can help you make good color choices for your social content.

More to come! I look forward to your feedback and your shares. 😉

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Why You Can’t Ignore Google+ for Local SEO and Social Media Marketing

google+ logoGoogle+ now claims more than 300 million active users every month, boasting more than 58 percent growth over the past few months, according to USA Today. Although Google+ has a long way to go to match Facebook’s 1.19 billion monthly users, its rapid adoption rate and sprawling community makes it clear that Google+ is not merely another social network nipping at the heels of Facebook and Twitter. Google’s social centerpiece has become a powerful social tool for marketers and businesses looking to increase their brand values and expand their visibility.

Personally, I find Google+ to be less noisy with a higher quality of professional level engagement and features like Google Hangouts On-Air and its photo sharing features that make it more attractive than other social networks.

But, even more importantly, the Google+ social network has several features that deliver significant SEO value beyond what other competing networks can provide:

Google+ Authorship Creates Social Authority

Google authorship is a search ranking concept that aims to stratify content and web pages according to the credibility and authority of their authors. With Google Authorship, content creators use small bits of code to attach a page to its author. But in order to do this, you need to have a Google+ account.

For this reason, a Google+ account can bolster your credibility online—not just within the Google+ network, but in search rankings as well. Thanks to Google Authorship, as your credibility grows, as measured by your clicks, followers and other variables, content can become more prominent online by having your name attached to it.

The ‘Like’ Button That Boosts SEO

Facebook has its “Like” button, Twitter has favorites, Pinterest has re-pins. But none of these directly affects the SEO of your content. This is where Google’s +1 feature is so valuable. The +1 button can be easily integrated into any web page or piece of content, and Google’s search algorithm uses it to assess the quality and popularity of content. Each time you receive a +1 from another Google+ user, your SEO ranking improves. As a result, users are rewarded for creating content that is valuable to their followers and the benefits go beyond what any other social network can provide. We call this earning authority the old fashioned way, and Google agrees. Because it’s fueled by authentic value, this kind of quality content that people want to share is the only sustainable social media marketing strategy.

Generate Feedback Through Community

For all its value in affecting SEO rankings, Google+ is still an effective platform for engaging consumers and generating feedback to improve your overall product positioning and awareness. For example, you can set up Google+ Communities to create spaces where you and your customers meet and exchange ideas, information and other comments. Similarly, you can join communities on the network and make new connections with other professionals, gathering new ideas and possibly some valuable business connections. This opportunity is somewhat analogous to LinkedIn Groups, but the added SEO benefits and a more rapid growth rate would seem to give Google Communities an edge.

This kind of community-based engagement can take more traditional text-based forms, or in multi-platform media. Google+ facilitates video-based engagement, which is where it differs from most other major social networks. Of course, this increases the demands placed on your Internet connection. Managing your social media efforts requires a fast Internet connection, and it’s particularly important with Google+, where media-rich content is widely used. If you plan on streaming video to run Google+ Hangouts, you’ll need a fast connection to make sure your video doesn’t skip.

Google Product Integration

As most people know by now, Google offers a wide array of products and services for businesses and consumers (from Gmail, AdWords and YouTube to Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Local and more). Most of these are available for free. What they do require, in many cases, is a Google+ account—at least to access all of the features of these products. The good news is, Google does not require a Gmail address. Your Google+ information can follow you wherever you go (including via Authorship as discussed above), simplifying processes and helping various Google products deliver better services.

With Google Maps, for example, your Google+ profile can establish your default location, recall your search history and display saved map routes. In a similar way, your Google+ account can and should also be integrated with your YouTube channel (you have one, right?) YouTube integration and connectivity is yet another benefit of Google+ participation; and one that can be expected to expand over time. 

Likewise, every local business (businesses with an actual physical location), in my opinion, MUST have a Google Local listing. Not to do so is leaving money and web traffic “on the table.” 😉

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FYI, ComBridges is currently adding capabilities to enhance local SEO listings and social media integration across 50+ local web directories including Yelp. Please use the form below if you would like more information:

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Also, thanks to Sidney Peters for his writing assistance in crafting this post. Sid is a UK transplant who develops apps for social networking sites. He is also training for a marathon.

 

Why I Embrace the Morphing Medium of Internet Marketing & Benefit from Major New SEO Trends

I’m increasingly enjoying my role as an Internet marketing strategist. Yes, of course, I delight in making a difference by helping businesses sort out how to produce the best results for their particular brand of enterprise. But, it’s also fun to dance with such a lively partner. 😉 Marketing Strategy signYes, Internet marketing is a lively medium. And, what makes it especially lively is (now and for the foreseeable future) it is a constantly moving target, a morphing medium, and a communications environment where change is not only constant. It must be embraced to be enjoyed.

I’m “all in” because it’s my sincere pleasure to stay out in front of the latest changes. For that reason and in order to try to be helpful, I think it’s time to update you on a couple of major developments in the world of online marketing and search engines in particular.

Next Generation SEO Social Signals

As I wrote several months ago (see “This Ain’t Your Mama’s SEO“), search engines are placing increasing importance on “social signals,” indications such as links, likes and +1’s via posts in social media that indicate real appreciation for your content.

I have also long encouraged participation in Google’s social network, Google+ (and if you want more information about how your business can benefit, visit their business pitch page). I even spelled out why I think Google+ is important in my book, “Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts Every Business MUST Know.”

Now, especially when it comes to the all-important Google search results, one social signal has risen above the rest. The latest leading edge social signal is getting Google+ posts with links to your content (blog posts or whatever) to receive +1’s (Google+’s equivalent of a Facebook “like”). In two recent research posts that included reputable analysis of what helps your content rise to the top of search results (something that every marketer wants or should want), the Google +1 has become arguably the most valuable and important search ranking factor, rising even above unique IP in-bound links!

In the Moz.com post, 2013 Search Ranking Factors, the +1 is second only to “Page Authority” to which +1’s are a contributor and which, in any case, is not a specific strategy but more an indicator of success for your page’s online visibility. In the Search Metrics2013 SEO Ranking Factors study, +1’s came in well ahead of another social signal, Facebook Shares. This social signal came in as the #2 ranking factor, but it’s worth noting, I think, that a +1 is just a click and thus easier to get than a share which requires more effort and usually a comment.

In any case, there can now be little doubt that one of the most important things you can do to gain search engine visibility for your web pages is to get people to +1 them on Google+. Of course, this speaks once again to the requirement that you create high quality content that people will actually WANT to share (more on that below). And, if your business is not actively posting (and promoting) its content on Google+, what are you waiting for?!?

SEO Beyond Keywords: Think Pages that Build Topical Authority

Beyond the rabid conversations about “branding” is the more fundamental, at least in SEO terms (pun intended), of building an authentic topical authority—that is an authority that is focused on a specific, relevant topic. This kind of content can be highly regarded by search engines based on its quality, especially when that includes your marketplace’s support via social signals (i.e. Google+ +1’s, Facebook shares, and the like. 😉

In the old days of search engine optimization (SEO), it used to be all about keywords and links; and don’t be fooled, these things are still very important. But another important development in the world of SEO is that Google has recently made clear that it is no longer sharing the data that it used to share regarding which keywords are bringing traffic to your website. This report found inside Google Analytics, for example, is now showing “(not provided)” and has become a major buzz in the Internet marketing world. Among many other posts, for example, here’s Search Engine Watch’s post, “What ‘(Not Provided)’ & Google Hummingbird Mean for Small Business SEO.”

Recommended Reading & Here’s Why

My best practice recommendations are reinforced by the more Big Picture approach taken in the excellent Moz.com post by Ruth Burr, “What is SEO Now That Everything is (not provided)?” I offer this link as a personal suggestion for “recommended reading.”

I like it because she moves the strategic conversation beyond the more common attempts to rank pages for specific keywords. Rather, Ruth focuses on the more meaningful objective of building authority around specific topics. Again, of course, this includes relevant keyword phrases, but it takes a broader and longer term perspective in order to deliver a more more valuable approach. It does this through a foundation of sustainable building blocks like links from credible sources and social signals that may or may not be keyword specific. Ultimately, it’s the relevance of the source not the link text that makes the biggest difference.

As she says:

The real killer of the keyword-driven approach isn’t (not provided), though. It’s Google’s increasing devotion to semantic relationships between topics and entities on the web. Author Rank, personalization, and the Knowledge Graph have added new elements to consider: Now, in addition to what your content says and who links to it, Google also cares about who created it, what else they’ve done, and who’s shared it. (my bolds)

From an Internet marketing strategy perspective, this means, as Burr says, “we need to shift our focus from getting traffic from keywords to getting traffic to pages.”

There is just no getting around the requirement for well-focused, high-quality content that is relevant and valuable for your market niche.

And so it goes. Change is constant, and I see no alternative to embracing the adventure.

I’m happy to help, and I look forward to your comments and feedback as well as to any opportunity to be of service to you and your company.

The Heart of Online Marketing: My Google Hangout (Video) with Jay Baer

Internet marketing and social media are discussed by Jay Baer in our first "Talk Walker" video interview via Google Hangouts On-Air

Yes, online marketing does have a heart. It’s the people.

In particular, it’s the people who contribute real value by what they do and who understand that what works, more than any particular technique in our New Marketing environment, is authenticity.

In fact, Jay Baer’s new book, Youtility says this quite well in it’s sub-title, “Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype.”

I’ve been following Jay for a long time via his blog, Convince and Convert, and his many other content marketing initiatives (please see this YouTube video’s description for more links). Jay is also one of the most sought after keynote speakers on the subjects of Internet marketing and social media, author of two books, the leader of a successful consulting company, and much more. We are honored to have him as our guest. Thanks again, Jay.

This 20-minute video interview was conducted via Google Hangouts On Air (the fastest way I know to conduct this kind of online video interaction), and this is the first in our new series of “Talk Walker” videos that will shine our light on people who are bringing real heart, authentic contribution and real value to the Internet marketing arena. Jay is the perfect place to start.

We look forward to your feedback. And if you like, please share, Like on Facebook and YouTube, and all that other good stuff. 🙂 Thanks! 

Facebook Marketing Meets Google Hangouts: How to Expand Your Video Audience

Our live Google Hangouts On Air webcast as it appeared live via our Facebook Page

Our live Google Hangouts On Air webcast as it appeared live via our Facebook Page

Sometimes I learn best by just going for it and trying new things. In this case, not only did I learn a new capability with Facebook Pages, but I also learned a new way to expand a video’s reach. In the hope that this trick is useful to you, I’ll explain how and what I did.

The day before our last 3 Geeky Amigos Takes on Facebook Marketing live webcast via Google Hangouts On Air (please find this video embedded below), I happened to see a local Internet marketing “guru” pitching the ability to create a “simulcast” of a live video Google Hangout via a Facebook Page. Sadly, this dude and his presumably “JV partners” were pitching their ability to create this functionality like it was a breakthrough so that you would buy their app for building Facebook pages with video embeds. 

I liked the idea, but I suspected it wasn’t that hard to do. Given that my pals and I do 3 Geeky Amigos as kind of informal R&D sharing event… as well as because it’s fun for us to learn and share how to use tech stuff like Google Hangouts On Air (and this IS a great platform for producing and recording live video conversations because they instantly publish to YouTube)… about a half-hour before the semi-regular (Tuesdays at 3pm PT) start time of our webcast, I started trying to figure out how to do this kind of “simulcast.” 

As someone who does know how to create custom, interactive Facebook Pages for clients, I use an online app called GroSocial. So I wasn’t starting from scratch. However, I checked with my contact at GroSocial and he hadn’t heard of anyone doing this before; and he encouraged me by saying, “cool idea!” 

Bottom line, Google Hangouts On Air provides an iFrame embed code so that you can post your live video “event” inside any web page. GroSocial has an iFrame module so that you can embed any iFrame inside a Facebook Page. Once I aligned those pieces in my mind, linking them together was a piece of cake.

Thus, voila! In just a few minutes, our webcast was live on Google+, YouTube and Facebook all at the same time (and of course it lives on via YouTube and anywhere else that we choose to place this embed code and could have been live simultaneously on any number of webpages. Thank you, Google.) In other words, it could have been live on our website as well. All I would have needed to do is to create a blog post or new page and use that same embed code. Pretty cool, eh?

I explain and show more via the recording of this webcast below. Enjoy and let me know if I can help you to expand your video, social media, or any other form of Internet marketing reach… anytime, anywhere.

What is certainly clear is that what I started calling “The Video Web” years ago is really gaining fresh momentum. 🙂

Webinar Video: Internet Marketing Success in 4 Easy “Booster Rockets”

Webinar via YouTube: Internet marketing... success

Last week, we recorded a live webinar as part of the re-launch of New Marketing University (NewMarU.com). I entitled it, “The 4 Booster Rockets of Internet Marketing Success” and we covered four key areas that are high leverage for any small business that wants to expand the effectiveness of its online marketing, including why these strategies are important and an overview of how we approach them.

The good news, if you are just passing by, is that I felt that this webinar was such a valuable introduction to how ComBridges approaches these kinds of innovations in Internet marketing as well as a taste of the kinds of useful information that will be available more and more via NewMarU.com, I decided to post this recording free and open to all on YouTube with no email registration required. In fact, this 45-minute video webinar is embedded below on this page so you can just click and enjoy it right now. 😉

In case you want to know what’s covered without watching anything, we discuss the following four strategic Internet marketing tactics:

  • Lead capture and lead nurturing along with the need to design a sales funnel process
  • Truly interactive Facebook Pages that go “beyond the Like”
  • Authentic engagement and what makes video content marketing more effective
  • Cost effective small business mobile apps to reach the rapidly increasing number of website visitors using smartphones and other mobile devices

All this and more in only about 40 minutes plus Q&A. Please check it out and comment, here or on YouTube. And if you want more, click on the “YouTube” logo to subscribe to our YouTube channel or register at NewMarU.com. Thanks! We look forward to hearing from YOU.

This Week’s “3 Geegy Amigos” Tech Talk Show via Google Hangouts

3geekyamigos-logo

We had fun today and I think there’s lots of useful information for you, as we live recorded this week’s episode of our new tech talk show, “3 Geeky Amigos” (live almost every week, Tuesdays at 3pm PT). We learned a lot including how to do lower-third graphic titles inside of Google Hangouts On Air and talked about everything from iPhone apps to Gmail’s upcoming interface update, Moz.com to free WordPress training, Internet marketing (of course) to social analytics software and even a little bit of Twitter’s Vine video app. Note: All of the links that are mentioned in this edition are right there for you in the YouTube video’s description. So click on the video title in the embedded video below if you want the links. Audio-only version also offered below, just in case that’s more convenient. You can even download that one.

Enjoy and we’d love your feedback!

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New Experiment: Weekly Tech Talk Google Hangout with “3 Geeky Amigos”

3geekyamigos-logoOf course, we are all always learning; and another “always” is that I’m always telling myself (and others) that I need to do video on a much more regular basis.

I’ve also been attracted to the streamlined production efficiencies offered by Google’s Hangouts On-Air which not only provides a nifty and unique interface for group video chats, but a seamless integration with YouTube so that when you choose to record your Hangout, the “On-Air” part auto-magically posts the recorded video conversation to YouTube.

I’m also lucky to have some wonderful, knowledgable (OK, fellow “geeky”) friends who are excited to join my in this high tech video playpen (or I guess the tech term is “sandbox”). In this case, my co-hosts are Taylor Fogelquist of Active Ingredients and Peter Klein of Empower Your Brilliance.

The result is a new weekly tech talk show that we’ve dubbed, “3 Geeky Amigos.” You can join us live at 3pm PT every Tuesday afternoon (except June 18th). We’d love your feedback. Please tell us what you’d like us to explore. What would be most useful or interesting to you?

Here’s the first episode embedded below. It’s more of a “rehearsal” than a “premiere.” I’m confident we will keep getting better and better as we find the flow of this new media environment and get YOU involved. 🙂 And, we hope you will also join us this Tuesday at 3pm PT.

This Ain’t Your Mama’s SEO. Tuning Into “Social Signals” and More.

Anyone who pays attention to search engine results—which is pretty much anyone who does any kind of search engine optimization (SEO) or Internet marketing—knows that the world of SEO is changing rapidly. Even big time properties like NYTimes-owned About.com have publicly confirmed precipitous drops in traffic because of Google’s most recent updates to their algorithms (called “Panda” and “Penguin”). And more of these changes are coming from Google very soon.

The Changing Face of SEO Strategies

We all know that change is almost always challenging, and I know that many of those who dance around the edges of Internet marketing frequently back off due to completely understandable experiences of overwhelm. There’s just so much going on. But that doesn’t change the fact that it really is a “brave new world.” In all honesty, I can only promise more changes at an accelerating rate.

The (hopefully) good news is that I’m here to bring you up-to-date and to help if I can. So here’s the latest:

Expanded Influences: Beyond On-Page and Off-Page Factors

In my book, “Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts Every Business MUST Know” (which I am now referring to as “The Essential Primer on Internet Marketing”), I break SEO, or search engine optimization, down into two main areas.

Briefly, the first area is On-Page Factors. These are things you can do to your web pages, from its content to things like HTML <title> tags, and much more.

The second area, Off-Page Factors, are probably more important and provide influence to search engine rankings based on the links TO your site and its pages from other websites. Search engines consider the willingness of other reputable websites to link to your site as a kind of “vote of confidence” that essential boosts its credibility.

While I’m just skimming the surface of these two components of SEO, the big news that I am reporting here—to those of you who don’t monitor this space in a professional capacity—is that there is now much more to SEO than On-Page Factors and Off-Page Factors. This is increasingly so, and in the spirit of the Big Data trend, there’s no question that this world will continue to become increasingly complex.

In order to keep this single blog post digestible, if not bite-size, I’m going to provide a high-level overview of the new components of SEO and offer links that deliver what I consider to be a valuable in-depth illumination of these new SEO factors.

Welcoming Social Signals to the Internet Marketing Mix

The biggest new ingredient is called “social signals” and it’s where the social media explosion meets the world of SEO. Just as search engines have used links as Off-Page Factors to determine a website’s influence, Google and the other search engines are now using you and/or your company’s social media activities including re-tweets, comments, likes and shares as indicators of your site’s value, especially as it relates to the keywords being searched in areas relevant to your expertise or market.

For more on this I recommend this excellent overview of the meaning and importance of social signals from SEOmoz: 
http://www.seomoz.org/blog/your-guide-to-social-signals-for-seo

You may also want to check out this thoughtful SlideShare, The Future of SEO from Rand Fishkin:

At the end of the day, it’s all about quality content

There’s no question that this is a moving target. But the good news is that Google is being consistent in their approach. They do their best to penalize those who try to manipulate search results, and they do their best to reward those who develop an authentic following, a positive reputation over time, and thus, real influence. Those people have always been known as “authorities” and they naturally exude that “social signals” that the search engines value above all else.

The real bottom line is that the best way to get good positions in Google’s search results is to earn those results the “old fashioned way” … by being valuable. This means consistently publishing content—whether written, recorded audio or video, or photography or other visual media. There is no substitute for quality content (known now as “content marketing”); and this will increasingly be the only true leverage in search engine results.

We are here to help

Finally, a bit of shameless self-promotion: We continue to evolve ComBridges SEO and social media marketing services. For example, we can manage your campaigns and provide strategic guidance. Please let us know how we can help.