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Update: Fixed MS Word HTML issue. Thanks to Jake for letting me know.
Search Engine Optimization or Strategic Website Positioning?
Search marketing veterans have seen the shift of SEO tactics moving from keyword density and page title optimization to the leveraging of PR-like tactics to conduct link-building (building rankings by having others link to your website) and to now even more complex strategies. At this point is SEO still SEO or has it outgrown that name? Maybe it is time to look at the idea of â€œStrategic Website Positioningâ€?
The maturing of the SEO industry has resulted in many changes. The top four has been 1) the further integration of PR-ish tactics like â€œlinkbaitingâ€; 2) the embrace of social media in social media marketing; 3) changing the metrics from rankings and to relevant traffic and conversion; and 4) thinking about usability and conversion optimization, not just search traffic generation.
All of these new changes will be unfamiliar to someone from the early days of SEO, which mostly concerned itself with placing important keyword on the webpages.
What Does Strategic Website Positioning Mean?
The Working Definition
The idea behind â€œStrategic Website Positioningâ€ is not original. Businesses create websites with considerations of what the website should be to their targeted audience.
The idea of Strategic Website Positioning is to think of search marketing (organic SEO and PPC), social media marketing and website development as an integrated approach, by asking questions centered around:
- How is your websiteâ€™s content, structure and usability fit with the intent of your audience?
- How does your website â€œfitâ€ in how people search (one-box searches on Google/Yahoo, Technorati, Oodle, vertical search engines)?
- How is your website positioned in Social Media Community? How do you want to participate?
From this we can build further questionsâ€¦
- â€œWhat are similar people tagging (or perhaps tagging with similar words) – Del.icio.us and Google Search Historyâ€ (SEOBook)
- â€œWhat are similar people reading? (Via My Yahoo! or Google Reader or MyBlogLog) – Graywolf recently highlighted how MyBlogLog can use your readers to show what community your site is inâ€ (SEOBook)
- â€œWhat words are associated with your brand or site? What sites are associated with those words? What searcher intent is associated with those words? What else are they searching for?â€ (SEOBook)
- What Terms Are Your Competitors Using? On their website, on their copy, on their AdWords campaigns?
Content Building based on Community Positioning
Building on the above, but including:
- Content Funneling (See Emergence-Media on “Building Content for Branded and Non-Branded Search“)
How is your website catering to your target audience in general product research, comparative shopping and purchasing mode? How can you be considered an authoritative source for each?
- What is the approach on new sources on online content like blogs and widgets?
Social Media Assessment
- How Visible are You in Social Media Websites?
How â€œpopularâ€ are you online? Do reputation management? See how communities, blogs, reviews and del.icio.us describe your website?
- How do you want to Participate in Social Media Websites?
Do video promotions? Community building? Virals? Podcasting?
Search Engine Positioning
- Getting on One-Box Search (See Google on Travel searches, Website Searches)
Are you using Google Base to get listed on Googleâ€™s Real-Estate Seach?
- Getting on Vertical Search like Technorati, Oodle, Kayak, *Shopping Search Engines*
Beyond the big search engines Google/Yahoo/MSN/Ask, what about the specialized vertical search engines?
Greater Marketing/MarComm/PR Integration
- Sharing â€œKeywordsâ€ Knowledge:
Does some department have consumer studies on what words people use to describe your product?
- Integrating Offline Ads with Search:
Whatâ€™s your slogan, hook, that song playing in the background of your commercial. Is that integrated into your search strategy?
Conclusion: SEO Needs a Conceptual Reset and Reboot
I could go on and on, on the list above. They are not hard and fast categories, but they are the type of questions that need to be asked. They maybe best laid out in a mindmap (see Emergence Mediaâ€™s SEO Mindmap from last year).
There are many folks trying to tackle what the new SEO exactly is. Todd Mailcoat has placed it forward as â€œNew School SEOâ€, pointing to various other tactics that beyond traditional SEO: Social Media Marketing, Video Promotion, Community Participation et cetera. Aaron Wall has looked at the community (a more precise type of link authority and PageRank) as the next possible area where more search engines will determine relevancy.
Whatever it is, conceptual we need to rethink how we think of SEO. Itâ€™s not just about using WordTracker to do keyword research anymore, so our frame of thought has to change too. â€œStrategic Website Positioningâ€ is an attempt to reset that thought. Once we figure what exactly SEO will be, there comes the next step: How do we explain it to our clients?