How to Future-Proof Your SEO Initiatives
The practice of search engine optimization (SEO) is attractive to nearly every enterprise today and for good reason - not only does it provide a valuable touchpoint with consumers on their path along the brand journey, the benefit is nearly unmatched when compared to other channels (at least when it's done in a sustainable manner).
There is plenty of guidance on every facet of SEO - much of it fueled by years of experience - from and on every corner and crevice of the Web. The industry's thought leaders delve almost religiously into the details and minutia of both the art and science of the practice. Changes made based on each and every verifiable suggestion, however, won't always lead you to the promised land of a first page ranking (or a first place listing). There's much that goes into achieving some modicum of success with search engine optimization, and making a few adjustments here and there simply won't do it. A better course of action is to understand what really influences search result positioning - and there are but two: links and content.
Link Relationships: The whole underlying principle of Google's algorithm is that web pages with more citations are those deemed to be most important. It's impossible to make it any more clear than this - find ways to earn those citations, the links from other Web properties which will indicate to Google (or any search engine for that matter) that the website is relevant, interesting and trusted. You can't just go out and get links though (you probably already knew that, of course). The way to achieve links is to start with developing relationships with those that have the power to bestow them on your site. Don't just sponsor one event - align your company with a related cause, initiative or group. Don't just submit a post to an industry forum, participate regularly in online conversations with no other aim that to provide support. Link building is an active and dynamic process that demands the attention and respect of marketers and a commitment to building relationships.
Content Matters: Those responsible for search engine optimization will quickly find that without some content (and good content at that), building links is going to be a real challenge. Fortunately, there are plenty of content forms, and plenty of ideas that must be addressed that can guide SEOs through this important aspect of the practice. Need to educate a user base and explain something in great detail? Take your time developing long-form (several thousand word) articles complete with images. Want to entertain an audience, consider video (which has incredible share-ability and index-ability as well). Thinking about developing something that really engages an audience? How about slideshows, infographics, even immersive applications. Really, the list of content types is endless - you just need to remain committed to producing content that speaks to your audience and doing so in a way that educates, entertains or engages.
Keep in mind that future proofing SEO initiatives may not yield an immediate benefit; these things take time! Fortunately, you're not building for today but rather for tomorrow and the benefits available by establishing a digital presence useful today and tomorrow is the only sure fire way to future-proof your SEO efforts.