Social is based on serendipity, while Search is based on intent.
That means while people find things in social media through recommendations and referrals (that they weren't necessarily looking for), people use search engines to find something specific (which usually results in better sales).
The problem, is that there are constant changes happening in the layout of SEO and search engine result pages (SERPs). And if you're making these 3 SEO mistakes, then your results are going to be lackluster.
We're going to demonstrate these tips using a real-life example of a search engine result page for the phrase "hotels in Monarch Beach" - that I so expertly drew on a whiteboard. :) Click on the image below to enlarge. (And if you're looking for more, then this this free course can also help.)
Mistake #1: Picking Keywords at Random
As search engines (and search users) have become more sophisticated over the years, more thought needs to go into how you're using keywords and landing pages to target people at different times.
For example, the popular keyphrase "hotels in Monarch beach" is going to be really difficult to rank on for most brands. Some of the companies listed on this result page have recognized that, and are utilizing ads to get their name out there. But their advertising probably isn't very effective for a few reasons...
- Hyatt, for one, is advertising their main site on the result page for a keyword that is very specific. Their ad would probably provide them with a much better return had it been for one of their hotels somewhere in the vicinity of Monarch Beach.
- The Four Seasons has also decided to advertise for this key phrase... for their hotel branch located in Santa Barbara (3-4 hours from Monarch Beach). This probably wouldn't even be an option for someone who is already set on staying in Monarch Beach.
See where I'm going with this?
In order for keywords and ads to be effective, your website or page selection must match up with the user's intent - which is based on where they're at in the "customer journey".
Or else, you'll end up spending time and money on something that 99.9% of browsers will completely pass over (and rightfully so) because it doesn't fulfill their needs.
Mistake #2: Focusing ONLY on Google
Search encompasses way more than just Google.
Almost half of the websites that pop up for this keyphrase are from third party sites like Trip Advisor and Expedia (you know, the kind of sites that have a huge influence on whether or not someone will buy from you).
For this reason, it's crucial to optimize your positions on these websites. Think about where customers in your industry like to hang out. Are they on Yelp? Kayak? Urban Spoon? Wherever they are, you should be also.
Join these sites and do your best to build a platform on them. This can be done by running ads, getting extra reviews, uploading videos and pictures, etc.
Often times, taking advantage of these effective and high-ranking sales channels can be just-as or more effective than trying to rank organically or paying for ads.
Mistake #3: Keeping SEO in a Silo
Search engines are constantly evolving, and it's not just about specific keyphrases anymore.
It's not about putting a keyphrase in 100 different areas of a landing page. And it's definitely not thin, junky content that no one wants to read. It goes beyond all of these things.
Here's what I mean.
In Google's shopping app (and their local results as shown below), you're going to see reviews. Guess where these reviews are coming from? Google+. And one of the ways to show up on a search engine result page (SERP) is to do a better job of ranking in Google's shopping app. And one of the ways to do that is by getting reviews through Google+.
One last thing...
For this specific search engine result page, you'll see a ton of results for Dana Point (even though the rankings are for Monarch Beach). That's because search engines are starting to do a much better job of understanding context. They're relating things that are seemingly random. In this case, Monarch Beach is a location within Dana Point.
Search engines are getting better at learning and inferring examples, and will often provide users with websites that contain related concepts.
The tips listed above should give you a basic (yet important) understanding of how to take advantage of these changes. (And if you're looking for more, then here's 100 ideas.)
But when all else fails, think about how you (or any other person) is using Google to find basic information (are you clicking on ads, reviews, etc.?) and then formulate your own SEO strategies based on these practices.
And you certainly don't have to overwhelm yourself by implementing all of these tips at once. Pick one or two to focus on, and try them out! Don't be afraid to make tweaks when something isn't working exactly as you want it to.
The important thing here is that you're moving forward with the times, and not clinging to past tactics that no longer work.