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Friday, 30 March 2012

Should Your SEO Guru Vacate Their Throne?

If you have been religiously over-hyping your keyword content in the hope of getting a higher search ranking then Google's recent's pronouncements should be of concern.

Google is working on making SEO matter less important, or to put it another way less time consulting.  To quote Mike Cutts, Distinguished Engineer, Google Inc, at a recent SXSW session:

"The idea is basically to try and level the playing ground a little bit, so all those people who have sort of been doing, for lack of a better word, ‘over-optimization’ or overly doing their SEO, compared to the people who are just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site, we want to sort of make that playing field a little more level. So that’s the sort of thing where we try to make the website…the Googlebot smarter, we try to make our relevance more adaptive, so the people who don’t do SEO, we handle that, and then we also start to look at the people who sort of abuse it, whether they throw too many keywords on the page or whether they exchange way too many links, or whatever they’re doing to sort of go beyond what a normal person would expect in a particular area. So that is something where we continue to pay attention, and continue to work on it…we have several engineers on my team working on that right now.”

This statement has made more than a few people nervous; will Google come down hard on sites that are using SEO Optimisation techniques?  The answer is probably yes for those who go overboard building up their keyword density.  On the plus side, those who are newbies in the web site publishing world will have a greater chance of search visibility.

The fact remains that search still remains a vital consideration as this infographic shows.  While social media works best for promoting brand awareness and interactivity, search works best for local business visibility and most importantly, lead generation.

Less is More

And if you are relying on the tried and true engagement through email then the outlook just got a little bleaker.  Recent research shows that that global email deliverability declined by 6% to 76.5% in the second half of 2011.  According to the report this is due to more stringent ISP filtering and deteriorating sender reputations.

The old adage that less is more seem to hold true as an increased volume of emails contributed to the fall in delivery rates. The more 'stuff' we get in the inbox the more likely we are to flag messages as spam rather than unsubscribing. In the Asia Pacific region for example only 67% of email reached its intended inbox destination.
Source: Return Path
All communications need to focus on quality content, not quantity. In addition, to improve email pick up rates the following should happen:

  • Adjust the frequency of your mailings sending our fewer but with more interesting and engaging content. It is also advisable to have someone coordinating this activity so that various departments or individuals aren't sending out separate and divergent email to the same subscriber database.
  • Clean up you email data base and target content to audience. Relevance is a key factor in getting your email opened.
  • Aim to build your reputation through whatever channels you choose as being 'the definitive source'
Users are now getting more savvy in their message filtering.  Return Path also conducted another study in the latter half of 2011 which showed that 93% of Gmail subscribers now have priority inbox set up but  21% of mail arriving through the Gmail system is delivered straight to the spam folder.
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