A common request our SEO department receives is: I would like to rank for keyword a, b, and c for a domain I registered for my business. Can you help?

Unfortunately, SEO does not work like that anymore. SERPs have changed dramatically after Google Penguin, Google Panda and Google Hummingbird algorithm updates were unveiled.

While before the top results of search engines were filled with optimized websites, this is no longer the case. Search results are now based on what’s best for users and providing them with the best experience possible. Top spots are given to Google+ Local Business Pages as well as blog articles that review products and services.

Let’s glance at a few examples.

Example #1: “Best Sunglasses”

Google Search Best Sunglasses

Google Search Best Sunglasses

What do you notice?

Only a few results take you to a product page; Amazon.com (#2). The rest of them are articles about the best sunglasses, pairs of sunglasses to wear during summer and the best sunglasses for health eyes etc.

Example #2: “Sushi Restaurants in North York”

Google Search Local Sushi Restaurants in North York

Google Search Local Sushi Restaurants in North York

What do you notice?

The top search results belong to businesses that have invested in Google+ Local Listings. The rest of the results take consumers to review sites, such as Zomato, Yelp, Yellow Pages, TripAdvisor.com, and Blogto.com. Not a single result on the first page [organically] links directly to a restaurant’s page.

Example #3: “Buy a cheap TV”

Google Search Buy a Cheap TV

Google Search Buy a Cheap TV

What do you notice?

The top results are product pages. But they also happen to be pages of established brands like Walmart and Sears. There is also an article that explores the process of buying a cheap HDTV. Not one result is of a SMB that wants to compete with big brands.

Our SEO Findings:

It’s becoming almost impossible for smaller brands to get ranked for major keywords on first pages of Google. Google’s SERPS are being dominated by everything but SMBs and their products and services pages, including big corporations, review sites and blog/news posts about the product and services being searched for.

Is SEO Dead?

Absolutely not! As long as people are using Google and other search engines to find stuff, SEO will be alive. What we are trying to say in this article is that what you were doing in the past to get rankings must stop. The landscapes of SEO have changed and it’s time for you to change your strategy as well. Here are your options:

1. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

PPC advertising can drive real results for all types of brands, both big and small. As its name suggests, the advertiser only pays when an interested consumer clicks on the advertisement. Unlike SEO, you are guaranteed and can pay for top spots, as long as you follow the guidelines and do proper keyword research. As well, unlike with SEO, PPC advertising results are delivered almost immediately once the ads go live.

2. Write Blog Articles

You seldom see people link to or engage with products and services pages. The same could not be said about articles that review products/services or inform consumers about industry related news. Focus your blog content and link-building strategies on creating articles that deliver what Google and its users want to see. By creating value, you open yourself up to more shares and backlinks.

3. Create Brand Awareness

As we saw, top results are generally reserved for established brands and websites like Yelp, Amazon, YouTube, Google+ Local, Facebook, and Quora etc. Each platform has its own unique benefits and in most cases consumers bypass search engines and go directly to those sites. By featuring your brand on these sites, you are amplifying your reach and improving the probability of being found online.

My advice is to be on all social media platforms and sites where you know your consumers are. So if you are a restaurant, you may want to open an account on Facebook, Yelp, Manta and Pinterest. If you are local contractor offering painting services, for example, sites like Angie’s List, Yelp and HomeStars are good places to start.

4. Do an Ask Me Anything (AMA)

Create accounts on websites like Reddit and Quora to answer questions, offer your expertise and establish an authority in your industry. These high ranking bookmarking sites are beehives of activity for niche personal brand builders.

5. Content Curation

You don’t have to create original content to be perceived as an authority. By finding and sharing content written by others enhanced with your thoughts, views and commentary, you provide a valuable service to your fans and customers. Directing people to quality nuggets of content as social media posts or email newsletters keeps you visible while growing your online reputation.

About iRISEmedia

iRISEmedia.com is a Toronto digital marketing and social media marketing agency, specializing in web design, SEO, social media marketing, online PR, and more. Our team helps clients increase their reach and profitability by developing and implementing customized and targeted online and social media marketing strategies. We service clients in Toronto, Ontario, the GTA and throughout Canada as well as globally.



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