Q: How important is an active presence on social media sites to SEO?
A: It’s all speculation… but we know that search engines like Google®, Bing® and Yahoo!® can and will crawl social media sites looking for links and information. If you participate in social media, chances are that Google and the other search engines will be able to find those links and try to establish a relationship. Similarly, having social media buttons on your pages helps tremendously. According to SearchMetrics, the most powerful ranking factors for the past two years have been Facebook® “likes” and pluses on Google+™.
Q: What are two of today's top trends in the SEO world?
A: The two biggest trends in SEO today are content and social media. Search engines want the most relevant and natural result to be at the top of their pages. They are also looking for ranking signals that can’t be faked or gamed. Social media is a fantastic tool that can be harnessed for that purpose.
Content, on the other hand, can be faked, scraped, and generated. The great thing about Google is that it’s getting smarter at detecting that stuff. You can see evidence of this when you do Google searches and it highlights similar words to the ones you were using. This makes it harder to fake content and in turn provides better search results for the average user.
Q: What free or low-cost tools can help with SEO?
A: There are a lot of tools out there… many of them are horrible or cause more confusion. I do like SERPS and a Google Chrome™ extension called Yslow. You can give SERPs, which tracks rankings for keywords, a free spin with a 14-day trial. And, although it might be a little too technical for the average website user, Yslow can tell you everything that’s fouling up your SEO from a website speed perspective.
You can also read the SearchMetrics Blog and the MOZ Blog for lots of fantastic information. The MOZ blog also features a great whiteboard Friday video.
Q: What's your best advice to small business owners who want to rank higher on search engine results?
A: So my advice is actually advice that I give everyone regardless of SEO. Be passionate about what you do and never cut corners. I always find that people try to be overly competitive and cut corners where maybe they should have stayed true to themselves and their brand. The truth is that cutting corners, when it comes to SEO, will get you in trouble. That can come in the form of a penalty or in missed rankings. So the next time you have to create a page or a website, try making it the best you can. Take time writing the content, provide the best experience you can to your visitors, and stop trying to game the search engines.
Want to hear more from Jim? Go here to learn about the SEO importance of backlinks, images, keywords and more.
Connect with a SCORE mentor for free guidance!